"The objective of establishing the Trading Fund is to improve the
quality of services provided to the customers of the Land
Registry" said the Secretary for Planning, Environment and
Lands on 30 June 1993 when introducing the motion to establish
the Land Registry as a Trading Fund Department. "I can fairly
say that all professionals who have to deal with the Land
Registry are looking forward to the setting up of the trading
fund so that we can obtain the services expected of an international
financial centre" responded the Convenor of the Bills Committee.
How far has that objective been realised and those hopes fulfilled
over the first decade of the Trading Fund? A comparison between
performance standards in 1993 and 2003 gives a clear answer
to that question.
The table below compares the actual performance of the Land
Registry in 1993 before creation of the Trading Fund and the
performance pledges that we aim to meet this year before the
introduction of central registration and our new Integrated
Registration Information System (IRIS).
of land documents
of computerised land registers and records
of copies of land records
of copies of land records
working days for imaged copies with plans and 3 working
days for imaged copies without plans
Services' service at the Central Search Office
of computerised land registers
copies of computerised land registers via Direct Access
copies of land records via DAS
of copies of land records ordered via DAS
Dispatch within 1 working day
of Memorial Day Book applications
of Memorial Day Book diskettes by courier
Dispatch within 1 working day excluding Saturdays
||Approval of Monthly Memorial
Information on Mortgage Transactions applications
Monthly Memorial Information on Mortgage Transactions
diskettes by courier
Dispatch within 6 working days excluding Saturdays at
the beginning of the month
Note: Performance Pledges for Service Types '5' to '13' were
introduced after 1993/94.
Building Better Service
Improvement to service has followed from commitment to a number
of key factors.
Staff Training and Development
In March 1996, the Land Registry set up its own Training Unit
to enhance staff's learning capacity and support a culture
of self-development and continuous learning among all members
of the department. A Human Resources Management Plan was developed
in 1996 and communicated to all staff. It is regularly reviewed
and enhanced to encourage further improvement by staff and
to meet rising public expectations for quality service. An
in-house Learning Resource Centre has been established at
the Training Unit in the main office and remote learning facilities
provided to all branch offices.
In January 1997, a performance incentive scheme
was introduced. It aims to encourage increased productivity,
reduced process costs and stronger teamwork.
In 2002, a programme was begun to send Land Registration
Officers on attachment to Land Registries overseas that have
developed advanced systems. This aims to familiarise the department's
officers with the potential of new systems to improve registry
services. It also provides an introduction to the requirements
of operating a title registration which we aim to introduce
to ultimately replace the existing deeds registration system.
In September 1994, customers who previously had to come to
the various land registries to request searches of information
in the registers began to receive information in their own
offices. The 'Direct Access Services' introduced that month
allowed full computerised searching of the Urban land registers.
By September 1995 this service was extended to the New Territories
Town Lots and by April 1997 was extended to all parts of the
To assist customers carry out searches more conveniently,
in January 1999, the Central Search Office began to offer
a cross district search service. This was extended to the
New Territories Land Registry offices in October 2000, allowing
the public to visit any office and conduct land searches across
the whole territory.
To enable the Direct Access Services to cover
the whole of Hong Kong, a programme to convert all one million
manual registers kept in the New Territories offices into
computer records was begun in May 1994 and was completed in
In July 1996, work began to convert all 144 million
pages of land documents held by the Registry into digital
images for easy storage and retrieval. The work was completed
in just two years. All registered land documents are now recorded
on optical disks and can be retrieved and reproduced at high
speed to meet customer requirements.
To improve further the usefulness of documents to customers,
a programme to convert 3.5 million plans attached to land
documents into high quality colour images was begun in March
2002. The work proceeded smoothly and was extended to cover
the 539 volumes of Block Government Leases. These, together
with all existing plans, were completed in February 2003.
A range of information that assists analysts, estate agents
and conveyancers has been made available in electronic format
through diskettes or compact disks. Memorial Day Book data
has been offered on disk since 1995 and Monthly Memorial Information
on Mortgage Transactions since 2000. The Street Index for
urban properties was issued in compact disk format in 1999
and the Lot/Address Cross Reference Table for the New Territories
was published in this form in 2000.
As a customer service oriented organisation, the Land Registry
has set out systematically to improve the quality of its services
while maintaining an efficient, cost effective organisation.
In June 1998, the Land Registry secured support from the Secretary
for Planning, Environment and Lands for a comprehensive programme
of change to the legislation, organisation and information
systems employed by the Land Registry so as to deliver best
practice services to meet the expectations of the public and
the business community.
The key step in this strategy was to secure amendment to
the Land Registration Ordinance to allow the organisational
merging of the Urban and New Territories Land Registries.
This was achieved in July 2002, allowing the Land Registry
to initiate the contract for the Integrated Registration Information
System (IRIS) in August that year. IRIS will provide the technological
support for the organisational change. Both will be put into
operation together in early 2004.
The Land Registry has been required to achieve a 10% annual
rate of return on average net fixed assets. It has had to
pay dividends and notional tax on profits as well as repay
start up loans and find the resources to fund further investment
in facilities and equipment. The target rate of return has
been met in every year of our first decade. We have made no
increases in fees and charges since 1996. We have repaid $212.9
million in start up loans. We have already invested $426.2
million in capital projects to improve services and have committed
ourselves to a further $155.4 million for phase 1 of the strategic
Looking Back and Looking Forward
The preceding pages show that the Land Registry Trading Fund
has done much to live up to expectations placed in it by Government
and by the public when it was set up a decade ago. But satisfaction
of past expectations is not sufficient. At the heart of the
changes in the department over the last decade has been preparation
to do even better for the community we serve in the years