HC Deb 27 February 1919 vol 112 cc2010-1

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £81,500, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1919, for Rates and Contributions in lieu of Rates, etc., in respect of Government Property, and for Rates on Houses occupied by Representatives of Foreign Powers, and for the Salaries and Expenses of the Rating of Government Property Department, and for a Contribution towards the Expenses of the London Fire Brigade.


I would like to ask on what basis these Grants-in-Aid are made. I have never been able to understand it. I have a large number of Government buildings in my Constituency—I do not know whether any of them are included in this Vote—but I never could understand why it is these buildings do not pay rates like anybody else?


That would really raise the question of policy, which belongs to the general Vote. The Debate on the Supplementary Estimates must be confined to reasons for dealing with the supplementary amount unless some departure of policy is involved.

Mr. BALDWIN (Joint Financial Secretary to the Treasury)

May I invite the hon. Member to come and see me on the point. The explanation of the increase we are asking by Supplementary Estimate is a very simple one. It arises entirely from the increased poundage from which ratepayers throughout the United Kingdom are suffering to-day. In making the Estimates last year we made what we thought was a liberal provision to cover any anticipation in this respect, but we found that our calculations were upset by the actual increases which occurred. In London alone the increases of rates which have to be paid by the Government owing to the increase of poundage amounts to something over £40,000. In the City of Dublin there has been an increase of 4s. 6d. in the poundage, which has raised the Government payment from £30,000 to £50,000. The only other item which I think might interest members of the Committee is that of the Appropriation-in-Aid, and it might interest many Members who have not been used in previous years to following the form of Government accounts to know that these appropriations consist of repayments which are made by the Ministry of Munitions on behalf of the Ordnance Factory, the practice being for the Ordnance Factory to make their charges inclusive of the cost of rates. It really becomes a mere book-keeping entry. In regard to the rates of houses occupied by representatives of foreign Powers, we have arrangements with them by which they pay a certain amount towards the rateable value for the premises occupied just as we do on behalf of premises which we occupy in foreign countries. This is the simple explanation of the additional amount we require, and I trust the Committee will allow it to pass.

Question put, and agreed to.