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Monday, April 07, 2014

Fighting for local jobs

The Welsh Liberal Democrats Conference took place in Newport and was a great success. From my perspective though it offered an opportunity to take up a local issue directly with a UK Government Minister.

The UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable held a question and answer session so I was able to raise with him his department's plans to privatise the Land Registry, who currently employ 430 people in the Swansea area.

The Department of Business Innovation and Skills, which Vince Cable heads, is currently asking people to comment on whether the Land Registry should deliver its services at arms-length from Government through a privately owned company.

I told Vince that the Land Registry is an important employer in the Swansea area that makes a surplus which is reinvested in its business. It is an innovative and successful government-run business with a good reputation for customer service.

As a Trading Fund the Land Registry already has the flexibility to innovate and reinvest surpluses as is evidenced by its very successful sale and publication of quarterly house price information. It has also been for some time a flagship department in terms of customer service. There is no evidence that the proposal to privatise it will improve on that.

The present set-up is independent, transparent and accountable. The proposed change is not. The Land Registry is a staff-orientated department with a good record in training and continuing professional development. A private company would not make that investment and as a result the quality of service will suffer.

Hopefully he will take my views on board.
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