Thursday, 12 April 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
18. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether it is acceptable that the State should effectively be running the Land Registry at a substantial annual profit of more than £12 million during the year 2000 while not providing the back-up services and staff resources needed by the office to enable it to give an efficient and timely service. [10847/01]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I am informed by the Registrar of Titles and Deeds that the income of the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds for 2000 amounted to £34 million for services provided and applications lodged.
I am further informed that the total direct expenditure in the registries for 2000 was £17 million. In addition, I am informed that the notional costs for superannuation, accommodation and services provided by other Departments amounted to £4.3 million and that the total cost of pensions for existing staff amounts to £2.5 million.
I am further informed that, under Government accounting rules and taking account of notional costs, the registries had a surplus of £12.7 million during 2000. However, under accrual accounting rules the real surplus of the registries amounts to £0.5 million.
As the Deputy will be aware, arising out of the current buoyancy in the economy, the intake of applications in the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds continues to grow at an unprecedented level with each successive year setting new record levels. The total intake of new cases for the year 2000 amounted to 161,844. This represents an increase of 29,485 over the 1999 intake.
In addition to the increase in property transactions, major infrastructural projects undertaken by the bodies responsible for systems and utilities, for example, Bord Gáis, ESB, Coillte, National Roads Authority, Bord na Móna, etc., have also placed considerable strain on the registry's ability to provide essential services. In the circumstances, the staff in the Land Registry have worked very hard to give the best possible service to their customers.
The Deputy will be aware that, to address this problem, I received sanction from my colleague, the Minister for Finance, to increase the staffing complement of the Land Registry by 82. The resultant appointments are being made following a recruitment drive by the Civil Service Commission which is beginning to pay dividends.
I assure the Deputy that every effort is being made by the management and staff of the Land Registry to address the arrears situation which has developed over a period of time, mainly due to the unprecedented increase in the levels of business. The Land Registry management are implementing some proactive measures to help deal with the situation. These include improvements to workflow, the training and development of staff, the use of new technology, the launch of an e-commerce service and the computerised data capture of folios and maps. I am confident that, with the appointment of additional staff and the programme of measures being taken, the situation will improve.
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