THE UK Government has been urged not to privatise its Land Registry department, which employs more than 430 people in Llansamlet.
South Wales West AM and Swansea councillor Peter Black said there was no evidence the proposed sell-off would improve the service of the department.
Mr Black asked the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, to reconsider the plans during a question and answer session at the Welsh Liberal Democrats conference in Newport.
Mr Black — who spent 17 years working for the Land Registry — said the organisation was a major employer in Swansea, and had a good reputation for customer service.
He said: “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.”
The Land Registry is the government body which records the details of land ownership in Wales and England.
Its Welsh base is on Swansea Enterprise Zone, where it currently employs some 438 staff.
The Conservative/Lib Dem coalition is looking at ways of getting the private sector involved in running the department in a bid to save cash — options include a joint venture with private company, or letting a firm take over the running of the organisation.
The Land Registry currently makes around £100 million surplus a year.
The government’s plans have come in for criticism from local Labour MPs — Swansea East MP Sian James said she was “deeply concerned” about the proposals, while Swansea West MP Geraint Davies said if the Land Registry was turned over to the market, “the public will suffer higher costs and reduced security because the government has put political indulgence before public interest”.
Llanelli MP Nia Griffith said privatising the Land Registry would be “nothing short of daylight robbery”. The government has said no decision on the Land Registry’s future has yet been taken.