§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD,
in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that he did not intend to press the measure upon the House, but that he desired simply to make a statement with a view to some legislation at a future time. [The hon. Member here explained the provisions of the Bill, and entered into some details as to the mode in which he wished the existing law to be amended, particularly as to the mode of assessment.] In conclusion, he said, he would formally move the second reading of the Bill, with the view of hearing something from the Government on the subject, though he felt that there was no option but to allow the Order to be discharged. He was strongly opposed to the discrepancies, the anomalies, and the injustice of the present system, but he thought it would be better to wait for 1940 the introduction of a Government measure next Session, which he hoped would supply a general remedy.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. J. G. Hubbard.)
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
regretted that, owing to the present state of Public Business, he should have to move that the Order for the Government Valuation Bill should be discharged, as under that, the general measure, they might have successfully dealt with the particular case of the metropolis. He had been in communication with all parts of the country, and every local authority on the subject, and he believed there was a general approbation of the principle contained in the Bill, which was, if possible, to establish a system of uniformity throughout the country in the cases of valuation of property. He would not enter then into a discussion upon the question whether the charge should be on the rateable or the gross value. He was not prepared to say what might happen during the Recess, but the more he had considered the question, the more satisfied he felt that the plan he had proposed would be the least disturbing. It would be impossible for the Government to agree to the second reading of the Bill, which would apply to the metropolis a measure founded on a principle different from that applicable to the rest of the country.
§ MR. M'LAREN
entertained the same opinion, that the Bill required serious consideration; and he could say that in the City of Edinburgh, which he represented, the inequality of the valuation of property, as compared with the provisions of this Bill, would be unequal and unjust. He opposed the Bill on the ground that it was a species of class legislation, giving a remedy to the metropolis at the expense of all the large towns in the United Kingdom. Whatever was done in the way of putting the present system of valuation upon a uniform basis should be made to apply to the whole country.
§ MR. CHADWICK
said, that there should be a common measure of value which should be applicable to the whole country, and to all the taxation paid by the country—a thing which it was clearly possible to arrive at.
§ SIR GRAHAM MONTGOMERY
hoped that when any change was made in England, it would be in favour of a gross rateable value both for Imperial and local purposes. He desired to see adopted also the principle of valuation by counties and by parishes, as it was now in vogue in Scotland.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
was anxious that the question of valuation should be properly adjusted, so that irregularities and inequalities might be got rid of. The mode of valuing property both for local and Imperial taxation differed in the three divisions of the Kingdom. The Irish values were, in many instances, based on prices existing many years since; and in England, the county and local valuations were made on data varying with the counties and towns. In Scotland, on the contrary, the basis of valuation was uniform throughout, and had been so since 1854. On the whole the Scotch system was the best; but the supervision of the measure being vested in the Lord Clerk Register, he feared that in practice many irregularities took place which led to great inequalities. It was very necessary that some Department of the Government should attend to the valuing of property throughout the Kingdom. Unfortunately there existed great diversity of administration; the valuation of Ireland being under the Chief Secretary of Ireland, that of England and Wales being divided amongst the Treasury, Home Office, and Local Government Board, whilst that of Scotland was left to that overburdened officer the Lord Advocate; the result being that the valuation of property in the three divisions varied so greatly as to be totally unreliable from the absence of any uniformity in the data on which it was based.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
suggested that the Bill should be withdrawn, on the ground that inconvenience would be occasioned by a division being taken upon it. Of course, there was no chance of its passing, and it was useless to press it forward, for as his right hon. Friend had said no Bill 1942 could be sanctioned upon the subject, which dealt with the metropolis solely.
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD
said, he would assent to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, and withdraw the Bill.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn; Bill withdrawn.