HC Deb 11 July 1900 vol 85 cc1283-4

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

[Mr. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, N. H. Thirsk) in the Chair.]

Clause 1:—

Question again proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

I should like sonic explanation from the Secretary to the Treasury as to why Section 133 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, is excepted. This section is to apply to the case of post office sites with certain exceptions. I want to ascertain from the Secretary to the Treasury why these exceptions to the Lands Clauses Act are being made. Is the Secretary to the Treasury prepared to give us some explanation why Section 133 does not apply?


I should like to hear the hon. Member's explanation of it.


Then I will give it. Whenever the promoters of a building scheme take possession of lands and demolish houses they are bound under Section 133 to pay to the rating authorities in respect of land tax and poor rate until the property is ready for rating purposes again. They are bound in the interval between demolishing the buildings and the completion of the works to pay to the rating authorities the same rates as those authorities had received up to the time when the compulsory powers were taken. That is briefly what is pro- vided for in the Lands Clauses Act. I should like to know upon what principle the Government have acted in providing that this clause shall not apply in the case of the property of the Government. In the year 1845 the Government did not pay rates like other people, and they were under no legal obligation to make a contribution for rates. The Secretary to the Treasury knows perfectly well that the Government, during his term of office, have altered altogether their method of dealing with these matters, and they now admit that the Government must pay rates the same as anybody else. The Government have been giving effect to that system in England during the past two or three years, and having done that, what grounds have the Government now for turning round and saying that during the progress of these works, when they demolished the buildings and deprived the local rating authority of the rateable value they got before, they should not pay the rates? There was a reason for such a course some years ago, but there is no reason for it now. What would be the effect of this upon the vestries of London? You demolish a large building site, and the effect of your demolition will be that before your new buildings are ready for rating the vestry will be deprived of the rates which they otherwise would have received. I should be very glad if the Secretary to the Treasury would explain why the Government have taken this course.

MR. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S.W)

I beg to call your attention, Mr. Grant Lawson, to the fact that there are not forty Members present.


And may I call your attention, Mr. Grant Lawson, to the fact that hon. Members on the opposite side of the House have deliberately gone out?

The usual interval having elapsed, and forty Members not being present,

The House adjourned at ten minutes after Five of the clock, till To-morrow.