HC Deb 07 June 1860 vol 159 cc24-5

said, he wished to ask the President of the Poor Law Board, Whether the Instructional Letter from the Poor Law Commissioners to Parochial Officers, dated the 22nd day of June, 1837, has ever been withdrawn, or whether the practice of considering gross estimated rental as the landlord's rent, the landlord and tenant respectively paying their own proper charges, prevails in opposition to the instructions therein contained.


said, that in answer to the first part of the hon. Member's question, he had to state that the Instructional Letter of the Poor-Law Commissioners in 1837 had never been withdrawn. That letter had no further authority than the expression of the opinion of the Commissioners on the provisions of the Parochial Assessment Act. Its chief purpose appeared to be to indicate to the parish authorities upon what value of property they were to make their assessments, and so far the letter was quite clear, for it says that it is upon value after deducting all charges and expenses incidental to the occupation or ownership of property. But the point of the hon. Member's question he (Mr. Villiers) presumed was, that in that letter there was a reference to gross rent, which seemed to be at variance with the reply that had been given to the hon. Gentleman on that subject on a former occasion, the Commissioners apparently implying that the landlord paid what were called the tenant's taxes as well as his own. He did not think that the Commissioners' letter was very clear upon that point, and this appeared to have been the opinion also of the Poor Law Board in the month of May, 1859, for, upon having occasion to consider the real meaning of what is called gross estimated rental, they referred the matter for the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, and also of Mr. Tomlinson, who was counsel to the Board; and their opinion was to the effect that the gross estimated rental mentioned in the Schedule of the Parochial Assessment Act was the rent at which the property might he expected to let, the tenant paying his own rates and taxes, and they assumed that the column was filled up with a figure corresponding with that rent on a tenancy from year to year; and they then further stated that the rateable value was a deduction from that rental, amounting to what is required from the landlord for repairs and other expenses necessary to maintain the value of the property. What had been the prevailing practice in cities and boroughs among overseers in making their assessments had not particularly been brought under the attention of the Poor Law Board until the recent inquiries which were directed by order of the Government as to the number of persons rated under different denominations of value; and from the result of those inquiries it appeared that the practice of overseers in such places coincided more with the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown than with the Instructional Letter of the Commissioners of 1837.