HC Deb 02 July 1875 vol 225 cc918-9

, in rising to call attention to the practice of Overseers of Metropolitan Parishes delivering the notice of alleged increased value (the said notice requiring an appeal within twenty-five days of the date thereof) late on the evening of the 24th day, said, he could not help thinking that the overseers had consulted an attorney on the matter, and, if so, it might be true that they were within the law in what they did; but if this were so, their conduct weighed very harshly on the public. The notices were delivered so late that practically there was no power of appeal, and in many cases doubtless the persons served would pay upon the increased assessment rather than undertake the trouble and expense involved by the unduly late service of the notice. He wished, therefore, to ask the President of the Local Government Board, Whether such practice is approved by the Board; whether it does not tend to fraud on the part of the overseers; and on what data the fictitious statements of the alleged increased value are made? He did not bring the matter forward as a personal question, although he had been among the sufferers, but as a matter affecting the ratepayers as a body. It placed them in a very hopeless position, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to prevent this nefarious proceeding. He should be glad to hear the principle on which this increased charge had been made. It seemed to him that a considerable value was put down beyond the real and the money value.


said, it was clear that his hon. Friend had been made the victim of a very great wrong owing to an undoubted miscarriage of justice. If his hon. Friend had placed the documents in his (Mr. Sclater-Booth's) hands before bringing the matter forward, inquiry should have been made as to the accuracy of his allegations, although the Local Government Board had no control either over the overseers or the vestries in the performance of the duties imposed on them under the Metropolitan Valuation Act and by the assessment committees. If the overseers had served notice on his hon. Friend under the circumstances which he had stated, they had acted wrongly, and he might get satisfaction if he consulted his legal advisers. He thought the practice to which his hon. Friend had referred did not prevail generally throughout the metropolis. It was not his (Mr. Sclater-Booth's) duty to supervise the action of the overseers of the metropolis; but if his hon. Friend would give him the particulars of the matters of which he complained, and the documents connected therewith, he would be happy to make inquiries, and he had no doubt the overseers of the parish in which his hon. Friend resided would furnish all the information they could. No doubt the object of the Metropolitan Valuation Act was that the value of the property in the metropolis should be valued every five years, and as that value was constantly on the increase, of course the assessments were increased from time to time. In effecting that object it was desirable that the proper ratio of increase should be secured, and in order to discover it the rent actually paid must be a criterion. He thought that Act was an admirable model for the framing of a measure hereafter with regard to the valuation of the country generally. If there was no remedy in such a case as his hon. Friend had called attention to, he (Mr. Sclater-Booth) admitted that a remedy ought to be provided, and the matter should be inquired into for that purpose.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, "put, and agreed to.