§ (Mr. Stansfeld, Mr. Secretary Bruce, Mr. Goschen, Mr. Hibbert).
§ COMMITTEE. [Progress 15th July.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
(Valuation of land used as plantation, &c.)
(The gross value of any land used for a plantation or a wood, or for the growth of saleable underwood, or for both such purposes, shall be estimated as follows:—
—brought up, and read the first and second time.
§ Amendment proposed, in sub-section (a.) line 3, to leave out the words "in its natural state."—(Mr. Goldsmid.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'in its natural state' stand part of the clause."
§ MR. STANSFELD
explained that the words of the sub-section would be taken in their natural sense, and in the case of laud used for a plantation or wood, the value of the land would be assessed simply as if the trees were not there.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.611
§ COLONEL RUGGLES BRISE
moved, as an Amendment, in line 5, to insert after "natural" the words "or unimproved." He said if they were not inserted the clause would introduce a new principle into rating—namely, that you were not to be rated on what you have, but on what you ought to have. Many woodlands, indeed, would be rated at less than they were at present under the word "natural" only. What he and his hon. Friends complained of was, that land such as that alluded to was rated at its full value before any money was laid out upon its improvement. At the same time, there were many lands which, through long rest and the deposit of leaves, would, if cultivated, be as valuable as the lands by which they were surrounded; but the clause as it stood would require that these should be rated without any consideration for the outlay which would be required to bring the lands into a state of cultivation; and that suggested the question how far the principle was to be carried, and whether fens and marsh lands were to be assessed at that which might be made their value by a largo outlay.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 5, after the word "natural," to insert the words "or unimproved."—(Colonel Brise.)
said, he was not prepared to say whether the words proposed to be added would cover the difficulty. Upon consideration, however, he thought the words ought to be inserted. He would wish to see the right hon. Gentleman introduce into the measure some provision for making allowance for bringing the soil into cultivation, not that that would do away with all injustice, but it would render it less unjust. There would not be much difficulty in dealing with little bits of woods; but the clause would involve injustice in its application to large masses of woodland which could not be cultivated without large outlay for grubbing, farmhouses, and water supply, which in some cases there was great difficulty in procuring.
§ MR. CLARE READ
thought the word "natural" might meet all the right hon. Gentleman had in view, because the assessment committee would have very little difficulty in arriving at a just conclusion by applying the word "natural" in its natural sense. That word would 612 give more information than the word "unimproved." Farm buildings were not natural improvements. Where there was woodland surrounded by arable land people were very likely to consider it of the same value as the land by which it was surrounded; whereas the one when the trees were removed was in its natural state, and the other in an improved condition. They therefore should not be rated on the same scale; and when the woodland came into cultivation, it was but reasonable that an allowance should be made for the capital to be invested, with the view of bringing about that result. But as the words proposed by his hon. and gallant Friend could do no harm, and might do some little good, he hoped the Government would accept them.
§ MR. STANSFELD
opposed the Amendment, and considered the word "natural," being a comparative expression, met all the difficulties of the case.
§ MR. HERMON,
in supporting the Amendment, suggested that it would be better to use the word "unreclaimed," as having reference to the great cost of clearing the land of stumps and roots when the timber was cut down.
§ MR. CANDLISH
complained that the time of the House should have been taken up in the discussion of a matter so trivial, and opposed the Amendment. He should press the matter to a division.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 154; Noes 21: Majority 133.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to, and added to the Bill.
(Valuation and rating of rights of shooting, &c.)
—brought up,£ and read the first and second time.
§ On Question? "That the Clause be added to the Bill,"
§ MR. STAPLETON
moved, as an Amendment, in sub-section 2, division (b), after "exercised," to insert the 614 words "either the tenant or." His object was to ensure that where the owner of any right of shooting, &c., severed from the occupation of the soil did not receive rent for the land over which the right was exercised, either the tenant or the owner of the right might be rated as the occupier thereof.
§ Amendment agreed to; words inserted.
§ MR. J. S. HARDY
moved, as an Amendment, in sub-section 3, line 1, after "land," to leave out "occupied under any lease or agreement existing at the commencement of this Act," and in line 6, after "entitled," to leave out "during the continuance of such lease or agreement." His wish was that not only during the existence of any lease or agreement, but also in the absence of any lease or agreement, the tenant-farmers should be entitled to deduct from the landlord on the next payment of rent the amount of rate paid in respect of the increase of rateable value caused by the gross value of the land being estimated as if the right of shooting, &c., were not severed from the occupation.
§ MR. STANSFELD
expressed his willingness to accept the Amendment, on condition that words should be inserted with the view of making the arrangement subject to any future contract or agreement between the landlord and the tenant.
§ MR. WYKEHAM MARTIN
thought the rate for game should be paid by the landlord, he therefore opposed the Amendment.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
feared that such an Amendment would not be for the interest of the tenant, because it would lead to the re-valuation of estates and an increase of rents.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ On Question? That the Clause be added to the Bill.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
protested against the principle of the clause, and contended that all land should be assessed irrespective of the purposes for which it was used.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.615
§ On the Motion of Mr. STANSFELD, new clauses (Rating of property occupied by local authority); (Saving of special enactments as to valuation); and (Repeal of 43 Eliz. c. 2, as to saleable underwood) agreed to, and added to the Bill.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported; as amended, considered.
§ MR. COLLINS,
in rising to move a new clause, providing for exemptions from rating of public elementary schools said, he desired to put the non-board schools on the same footing as the board schools, and the elementary schools on the same footing as the ragged schools with respect to exemption from rating. If it were right to exempt Sunday and ragged schools, which were not a public necessity, the case in favour of public elementary schools was far stronger, because the State ordered the latter to exist, and their existence was a saving of the money of the ratepayers.
§ Clause (Exemption from Rates of Public Elementary Schools,)—(Mr. Collins,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ On Question? That the clause be now read a second time,
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT,
who had on the Paper a new clause of a similar kind, supported the Motion. A great portion of the property of the country was exempt from taxation, such as places of worship and public roads, and therefore the only thing to be considered was, whether the exemption now proposed was a fair one. He contended that it was. Whatever the State required to exist must be considered a public necessity. The country could go on without hospitals; for if there were none, the man who could not be treated in his own home could go to the workhouse infirmary. But the law said that elementary schools must exist, and they should therefore be exempted from rates. If the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. C. Reed) were present, he (Mr. Talbot) would claim his vote on the ground that these public elementary schools were used as Sunday schools. There was no beneficial occupation; on the contrary, such schools were rather a source of loss to the managers. In some cases, the managers had to pay, not only a poor 616 rate and a highway rate, but a school board rate as well.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he wished to remind the House, that that was not a Bill to create exemptions, and such being the case, he maintained that the case of public elementary schools was entirely different from that of Sunday and ragged schools, which were exempt under the provisions of the Act of 1869; and the Bill merely allowed that exemption to continue. His hon. Friend, however, desired to extend the number of exemptions; but after the feeling expressed by the House in favour of rendering all property liable to rating, the Government could not consent to this proposal.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
denied that the Bill did away with all exemptions. It did not remove the exemption of Sunday and ragged schools, which might be considered the luxuries and fancy articles of elementary education. That being so, it would be most unfair that the great class of schools which by the Act of 1870 had been elevated into the position of national institutions should be liable to rates. He could see no logic or consistency in the exemption of the less necessary institutions, and insisting on the rating of the more necessary.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, that elementary schools were often the private property of the owners and conducted for their profit. It might be illogical to exempt Sunday and ragged schools; but the country had determined that they should be exempted. But if elementary schools should also be exempted, where were they to stop? There was no wish in the country for that unjust exemption, and he considered it mischievous and absurd.
§ MR. DIMSDALE
said, he thought that if Sunday schools, which were principally supported by Nonconformists, were exempted, and elementary schools, which were principally supported by Churchmen were not, an advantage would be given to Nonconformists which was denied to members of the Church of England.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, that every public elementary school received a grant equal to half its expenditure from the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but Sunday schools and ragged schools did not receive a farthing.
said, on the contrary, that many of such schools received no public money whatever. He believed the refusal of exemption in this case would increase the difficulty of passing the Bill.
said, that after all their labour, he feared the Bill had got plenty of anomalies, if not of injustices, in it, and those who wished it to have a chance in "another place" should be anxious not to send it up bristling with more anomalies than need be. In a matter of that kind, it would strike everyone as an anomaly that one class of schools should be rated and another free from rate. He could not see why ragged schools ought to be exempted and public elementary schools rated, more especially when it was considered that the latter were in 19 cases out of 20 used as Sunday schools, and therefore he should vote for the clause.
§ MR. STANSFELD
rose to say in the most unmistakable manner, that it was impossible for him to assent to the clause, and he was not tempted by the suggestion that by doing so he might facilitate the passage of the Bill in "another place." It was not necessary for him to satisfy the House that Sunday schools ought to be exempted in order to justify him in refusing the clause. When the Bill was introduced it contained a clause abolishing the permissive exemption of Sunday schools, but hon. Members knew that they were compelled in this instance to yield to superior force. There was all the difference between continuing a statutory exemption which already existed and creating another by a Bill the object of which was to abolish all exemptions.
§ MR. REED
said, understanding that reference had been made to himself during his absence, he wished to explain that the object of the proposal which he made in 1870 was, that one-half the Sunday schools in the country should be placed on the same footing as the other half. All the Sunday schools attached to churches and chapels were previously exempt from rates, and a legal question having arisen with respect to the others, it became necessary to settle the matter by legislation. He did not come to the House to ask for exemption as a new thing in the case of Sunday schools.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 91; Noes 130: Majority 39.
§ Clause 6 (Abolition of exemption of property used for local Government purposes).
§ MR. CAWLEY
moved, as an Amendment, in line 40, to leave out from "otherwise" to end of clause. That qualification of the clause was surplusage, and the last three words were an invitation to the assessment committee to invent or imagine any purpose for which, in private hands, a building would command a high rental.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 40, to leave out from the word "otherwise" to the end of the Clause.—(Mr. Cawley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, the clause had been drafted by the best legal ability the Government could command, and he could not consent to any alteration. At best the words objected to were mere surplusage, and could do no harm.
suggested that the omission of the last three words, "for any purpose," would meet the difficulty.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, he had no objection to the omission of the words "for any purpose," as verbal Amendments which he would at a later stage propose would, if adopted, secure that the object of the clause should be attained.
was glad the words were to be omitted, as, if they were surplusage, as he thought they were, their retention might lead in the carrying out of the Bill to mischievous results.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On the Motion of Mr. STANSFELD, Amendment made by leaving out, at the end of the clause, the words ''for any purpose."
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 7 (Payment of poor and other local rates for Government property, and scheme for defining and valuing the same).
§ MR. CAWLEY
moved, as an Amendment, to omit lines 28 to 35, inclusive, containing words which provided that the acquisition, appropriation, and use 619 of Government hereditaments should be taken into consideration by the assessment committee in dealing with the rating of Government property.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 27, to leave out from the word "mentioned," to the word "together," in line 36.—(Mr. Cawley.)
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 42: Majority 105.
§ MR. CLARE READ
hoped the Government would adopt some mode of rectifying an omission in the Bill with regard to the liability of a tenant to assessment in the case of timber. He had moved an Amendment on the subject which the Government were willing to accept, but through some oversight it had not been inserted in the amended Bill. He only asked in this case what was admitted in other cases—namely, that the tenant should be entitled to deduct any increase of rates arising out of the operation of the Bill from the landlord.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, it was proposed to read the Bill a third time on Monday, and in the meantime it would be reprinted.
§ Bill to be read the third time upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 250.]
§ And it being now ten minutes to Seven of the clock, the House suspended its Sitting.
§ House resumed its sitting at Nine of the clock.