§ SIR FREDERICK DIXON-HARTLAND (Middlesex, Uxbridge)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that where the London water companies make new reservoirs by the permission of this House they claim the right to have the land they have taken for such purpose rated at one-fourth of the ordinary assessment, on the ground that it is land covered by water, and therefore the parishes in which such reservoirs are situated are in reality deprived of three-quarters of their rates; and whether he would insist that a clause should in future be inserted in any other Bill preserving the rights of the local authorities?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. CHAPLIN,) Lincolnshire, Sleaford
Land covered with water is, under the Public Health Act, 1875, in the case of a general district rate in an urban district and a rate for special expenses in a rural district, only liable to be assessed in the 723 proportion of one-fourth of the rateable value. If a reservoir of a water company is land covered with water within the meaning of the Act referred to, and I understand this question is to be the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal, the partial exemption is not the effect of any special provision in the Acts of water companies, but of the general Law. If an alteration of the law is to be made, it should, I think, be by general legislation, and I cannot undertake to interpose with regard to the Bills of the companies as suggested.
§ SIR F. DIXON-HARTLAND
I beg to give notice that in any future Bill the water companies introduce I shall seek to introduce a clause to ensure that there shall be no diminution of the rights of local authorities.