HC Deb 30 April 1913 vol 52 cc1178-9
52. Sir J. D. REES

asked if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that a company formed in Nottingham last year to introduce and work machines made only on the Continent purchased over an acre of land on a highly developed estate, built a factory and fitted it with machines, thereby bringing additional trade to the city, whereupon the company was served with notice of four assessments for Undeveloped Land Duty for 1909–10, 1910–11, 1911–12, and 1912–13, for £2 4s. 4d., in respect of each year, whereas the company was not even in existence in the first of such three years, and as soon as it acquired the land it began to develop; whether the delay in making the valuation was the fault of the Government officials concerned, although the Commissioners have decided that the company is responsible for the payment of the whole outstanding duty prior to the time when building began; and whether, in these circumstances, he will order that the assessment made shall be cancelled?


In the past some delay in the valuation of undeveloped land has been unavoidable. The consequent postponement of assessment is contemplated by Section 19 of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, under which the duty referred to by the hon. Member, as restricted to the period prior to the development of the land, is properly charged on the owner for the time being who acquired the land subject to its liabilities. I see no reason to cancel the assessment.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the work of the Land Valuation Department is being so conducted that assessments of Undeveloped Land Duty, accompanied by demands for payment, are being made twice over for the same duties on the same properties for the same financial years under different references, by which means landowners, unless carefully checking these demands for payment of duties, would be led to pay the same duties twice over; if not, will he investigate a particular case in the county of Monmouth, the Division of Newport, the parish of Maindee, in which two separate demands or notices to pay Undeveloped Land Duty, amounting to £20 4s. 8d., on the same property for the same years, have been served under two different references, one on 20th January, 1913, under the reference 66—72/5,557, and another on 31st March, 1913, under the reference 113 to 119/9,395; and will he take steps to prevent the multiplication of such incidents by allowing a fair and reasonable time for the work which has to be got through in the offices of the district valuers?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. Every reasonable precaution is taken to avoid mistakes of the description referred to by the hon. Member, but a few errors are inevitable in every undertaking of great magnitude. The duplicate demand in the case mentioned will be withdrawn.