21. Mr. T. THOMSON
asked the Minister of Health if he will submit figures showing the approximate immediate effect on the local rates of the chief industrial towns in England and Wales as the result of the exemption of machinery from rates as proposed in the Rating and Valuation Bill now in Committee?
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Neville Chamberlain)
The Inter-Departmental Committee on the Rating of 780 Machinery reported that it was difficult to put forward an estimate of the ratio of value of relieved machinery and the total rateable value of an area, as figures are not as a rule available as to separate values placed upon land, buildings and machinery. On the basis of figures supplied by the National Conference of Assessment Committees for a selected number of places, however, they estimated that if the proposals of the Bill of 1923 were carried into effect the average increase in rates over the whole country might amount to 6d. in the £, and that in a few large towns it might reach to as much as 1s. 6d. The proposals in the Rating and Valuation Bill differ somewhat from those of the 1923 Bill, but the difference is not great, and I do not think they would materially alter the Committee's estimate. At the same time it must be remembered that the relief to industry must affect unemployment beneficially, thus reducing the charge upon the rates which has been a principal cause of their increase in the large towns referred to in the question.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that several towns have taken out figures, and that these show a considerably greater increase on the rates than he suggests? Would he have those figures investigated?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, Sir, I am aware of that, but, of course, those figures are very largely a matter of opinion at the present time, and I do not know whether any of them have taken into account the considerations which I mentioned in the last part of my answer.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in West Ham the borough treasurer has stated that, if the Bill is passed into law, it will mean an addition of at least 6d. to the rate in West Ham, and the rates are now 24s. and some odd coppers in the £?
§ Mr. CECIL WILSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the whole matter has been carefully investigated in Sheffield, with the result that it is estimated that there will be an increase of 2s. in the £ in the rates?