HC Deb 21 May 1896 vol 41 cc201-7

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires:—

The expression "rate" means a rate, the proceeds of which are applicable to public local purposes, and which is leviable on the basis of an assessment in respect of the yearly value of property, and includes any sum which, though obtained in the first instance by a precept, certificate, or other instrument requiring payment from some authority or officer, is or can be ultimately raised out of a rate as before defined.

The expression "rateable value" in the case of the county rate, or any other rate, levied according to any annual value not being rateable value as stated in the valuation list, means that annual value.

The expression "valuation list" means a valuation list under the Unionist Assessment Committee Acts, 1862 and 1864, or, in the metropolis, under the Valuation (Metropolis) Act, 1869.

The expression "spending authority" means any of the local authorities in England mentioned in the schedule to this Act.

The expression "occupier" includes owner where the owner is rated in place of the occupier.

The expression "Local Taxation Account" has the same meaning as in the Local Government Act, 1888.

The expression "prescribed" means prescribed by order of the Local Government Board.

The expression "agricultural land" means any land used as arable, meadow, or pasture ground only, or as woodlands, market gardens, nursery grounds, orchards, or allotments, but does not include land occupied together with a house as a park, garden, or pleasure ground.

The expression "year" means the local financial year, that is to say, the twelve months beginning on the first day of April, or where the spending authority do not make up their accounts to that day, on the nearest day thereto to which they do make up their accounts.


moved to omit the words "or as woodlands," contending that these words would relieve landowners exclusively.


hoped the Government would agree to the Amendment, as it was impossible to put this forward as a benefit to the tenant farmer.


was glad, if only for once, to be at one with the right hon. Gentleman, and he should accept the Amendment; which was thereupon agreed to.


moved to insert after "gardens" "cottage gardens not exceeding one acre in extent." This he urged would greatly benefit the labourers, for whom the Party opposite professed so much sympathy.


had sympathy with the proposal, but suggested that the words should be "cottage gardens exceeding one quarter of an acre."


expressed his readiness to accept this Amendment, which was agreed to.


moved to insert "woodlands or" after "includes."

Amendment agreed to.


moved the omission of "occupied together with a house," and the insertion instead thereof of the words "used and enjoyed."


said, he had made various concessions to hon. Gentlemen opposite, but he hoped the hon. Member for Plymouth would not press this Amendment.


recommended the hon. Gentleman to press the Amendment, for the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for West Monmouth, in the only Amendment he had pressed and got accepted, that which excepted "woodlands," had deprived all his neighbours in the New Forest of benefit under this Bill.

Amendment negatived.


moved the Amendment which stood in his name, namely, after "pleasure grounds," in line 28, insert "moor, woodlands, or warren, or any land kept or preserved exclusively for sporting purposes." He was sure not many words of his were necessary to explain the meaning of the Amendment. His object was simply to exclude certain land which was not primâ facie agricultural land. They were told the Bill was to relieve an acute form of agricultural depression. His Amendment would exempt from benefit racecourses and other mere pleasure grounds. No one could say that racecourses were agricultural enterprises.


said ho would be glad to go a long way to meet the hon. Member, but he did not like to exclude moor or warren. He had never seen a moor on which there was a sheep run. Surely the hon. Gentleman's object would be attained if after "pleasure ground'' there was inserted die words "or any land held or preserved mainly or exclusively for sporting purposes."


asked if the words the right hon. Gentleman suggested would include the Doncaster racecourse.




did not see why the ratepayers of Doncaster should not receive relief because they happened to occupy land which was used during a certain portion of the year for racing.


thought the concession was a very fair one. He owned he did not think the owners of race courses had any claim to exemption from rates.?

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.


was in hopes the right hon. Gentleman would accept the principle of the Amendment he now had to move. If the right hon. Gentleman would kindly say he would, he would not press any form of words. If the right hon. Gentleman would go back to the Amendments of Clause 5 he would find there an Amendment standing in his name. It was not in order in that place, but he was happy to believe it was in order here. He would not take up time by arguing the question, but move to add after the last Amendment— Or any land which to the knowledge of the Committee or Council settling the list basis or valuation has been offered or advertised as building land.


said, that with regard to land that was under advertisement as building land, there would be no difficulty, but such land was often let and used purely as agricultural land. ["Hear, hear!"] Moreover, the land which was advertised or offered for building land was sometimes very poor land. Under the circumstances he could not see how such land used as agricultural land could be excluded from the operation of the Bill, and therefore he could not accept the Amendment.


(who continued his speech under constant cries of "Divide" and interruption) said, he knew cases of land that was used as agricultural land temporarily, but that was really regarded as prospective building land, and was, therefore, worth £1,000 an acre. Surely such land as that was not entitled to relief under the Bill on the ground of agricultural distress. ["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Member had told him that he was the owner of land near a town worth £1,500 an acre and yielding £3 an acre rent. The right hon. Gentleman said a short time ago that he had no idea of doing injustice to anyone by this Bill, but in such cases as those he would be doing a great injustice, though, perhaps, unconsciously, by adhering to the Bill. [Loud cries of "Divide" and laughter.] He was bound to press this matter on the attention of the Committee until he got a satisfactory answer from the right hon. Gentleman. [Interruption.] If the rates on such land as he had referred to were halved, the Bill, instead of alleviating an injustice, would be doing a double injustice. ["Hear, hear!"] Much of the land claimed by the right hon. Gentleman an agricultural land was only such nominally; it was really building land, and was valued as building land by the owners, and it ought to be taxed on the annual value the owners asked for it. ["Hear, hear!" and, interruption.] The urban populations already laboured under great injustice through the insufficient and unfair taxation of land of this description, which, though of immense value, was charged only on the small rental paid upon it, because it was temporarily held. [Cries of "Divide!"] He would give the Committee an illustration with regard to land that paid no rates at all. [Cries of "Divide" and interruption.]


asked whether the hon. Member was in order in discussing the question of halving the rates on land that paid no rates at all? [Laughter and cheers.]


said, the hon. Member was not out of order, but he was certainly travelling wide of the Amendment. [Cheers.]


said, he had twice indicated that he would stop if he could obtain some intimation from the right hon. Gentleman that he admitted the justice of the Amendment. [Laughter and interruption.] He was bound to do, as every Member, whether landlord or not, ought to feel bound to do, his duty to his constituents for whom he sat in the House. [Laughter and cries of "Divide!"] He remembered a time when from his father's house—[loud laughter and cries of "Oh!"]—he could look over land which was now occupied by the town of Bootle to the sea. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Order!"] There were not then two houses in a line on that land. The whole of that large extent of ground was now covered with houses, most of which had been built on leases for 75 years. Those leases were now 50 years old. At the end of 25 years, therefore, the whole of Bootle would belong to the lessor, who would thus come into the possession of property worth 25 millions sterling on land which during the whole of the 50 years had not paid one penny towards local taxation. [Cheers and cries of "Divide!"]


asked the hon. Member to keep closer to the terms of the Amendment.


said, that if he appeared to be unduly persistent in this matter it was only because he wished to prevent further injustice being done in respect of land which was already too little taxed, or not taxed or rated at all. [Cheers and cries of "Divide!"] He would only further express the hope that before the Bill passed away from that House the right hon. Gentleman would further consider this matter, and endeavour by some means to exclude from the relief granted by the Bill laud which, though it might be held temporarily at a small rental, was estimated at high value as probable building land, and which already did not bear anything like a fair share of taxation. ["Hear, hear!" and cries of "Divide!"]


said, there was no subject with which the Committee could deal of greater importance to urban communities than that of the increasing value, and of the rating, of land near the towns. It was notorious that in recent years land near the towns had enormously increased in value, not through any efforts of the owners, but entirely through the growth of the populations. He supported the Amendment because it would be a monstrous injustice to the general taxpayer that land which was simply used for the moment for agricultural purposes, which was of enormous value, and which was intended for building purposes, should participate in the relief granted by the Bill. [Cheers and interruption.] He claimed in this matter to be the representative of large numbers of working men, who would be called upon to pay more than their fair share of the money which was to be distributed under the Bill. [Cheers and interruption.] He could not conceive that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill intended to include this very valuable land within the scope of the Measure. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to consent even now at the eleventh hour to take this matter into consideration. In the neighbourhood of our large towns there was an enormous quantity of land that was increasing every day in value, that increased value being given to it by the community. An owner using that increased value for his own benefit was really confiscating the proceeds of the labour of the people.


pointed out that the hon. Member was dealing with the Amendment in rather a general way, and was expressing objections to the Bill which he had expressed once or twice before. He invited the hon. Member to confine his remarks more closely to the terms of the Amendment.


explained that he had said nothing to exclude this question from further consideration. All he asked for was time in which to consider this Amendment, which, like many others, had been handed in without notice.


asked the right hon. Gentleman to consider, in connection with this matter, the Report of the Commission of 1885 on the Housing of the Working Classes. That Report was in favour of the acceptance of the general principle asserted by his hon. Friend who had moved this Amendment.


said, that after the conciliatory statement of the right hon. Gentleman he would ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn; clause, as amended, added to the Bill.

Clause 10,—

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