HC Deb 13 May 1925 vol 183 cc1925-45

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


In dealing with the rating of machinery, the Minister invited us to deal with some of the effects of the Bill. I would like to point out that there are several serious defects in this Bill even from the point of view of the method of assessment and the rates of allowances. I think they will lay a burden on trades people and householders in this country, and they will do it in two ways. In the first place, they propose to relieve industrial property under the allowances that are going to be made in the rating of machinery. That must be made good, as other speakers have pointed out, by increasing the rate on all other property. The relief that is proposed for industrial property is not going to be of much benefit to some classes of property, particularly in the coal mining industry. In the coal mining industry to-day we are suffering more than in any other industry, except the shipbuilding industry, and because of the methods of assessing property, which has been in force more or less all over the country for the last 100 years, the proposed relief on what is know as a tenant's capital in this Bill, the Schedule will not be of much, if any, benefit to the colliers of this country

It is the practice to define industrial capital invested in collieries in two ways. First there is what is known as the fixed capital, which is treated legally and for rating purposes as part of the hereditament of the mine, and which, when the lease expires, becomes the property of the royalty owner. That has always been taken as rateable, and while there are numerous petty differences in the various coal fields as to assessing the value of this fixed capital for rating purposes, roughly we may assume it to be about 5 per cent. of that fixed capital. The remaining capital, which is equally necessary for the working of the mine, is known as the tenant's capital, and is that part of the capital of the mine which the tenant or the coal owner can take away with him when his lease expires. It is not fixed; it is not part of the hereditament which goes with the remaining minerals to the landowner when the lease expires. It may be likened to the furniture of a house. Under the leasehold system a house becomes the property of the landlord when the lease expires, but the tenant has power to take away the furniture in the house—and that is about all. It is known, and, I think, generally admitted, that the coal industry of Great Britain is now passing through a most trying period, and there does not seem to be a bright future ahead of it at present. I regret to find there is no prospect of relief for the coal-mining industry under these proposals

I come to the second defect in the Bill. It is quite obvious that you cannot automatically control the rate revenue of a municipal body in such a way as to give relief to a certain class of property. The revenue must remain pretty constant and you have to make good the relief given in one direction, by increasing the rates on other property. In that sense it is the small tradesman class and the tenants of the cottages who will have to make good the loss in this case. There is another serious loss which the tenant class of this country are liable to make good if this Bill becomes law in its present form. This point has not been mentioned by any previous speaker, and I particularly draw the attention of the Government to it. The poor rate assessment under the Act of 1869 permits certain compounding allowances to the house owner when he pays the rates instead of the tenant and an additional commission if lie undertakes to pay poor rate, whether the house is occupied or not. In addition to the compounding allowances under the 1869 Act there is another general allowance under the Public Health Act of 1875 in respect of houses of a certain annual value, and, broadly speaking, these two compounding allowances work out in different parts of the country at between 30 and 50 per cent, according to which sections of these Acts apply locally. Generally speaking, house owners take advantage of these compounding allowances because they are running practically no risk of empty houses. They have not run any such risk for years past and are not likely to run any such risk for years to come. We all know that whatever progress may be made with building, there will be an acute shortage of houses for many years to come. In place of these compounding allowances it is now proposed in this Bill to allow 5 per cent. to the owner if he pays the rates instead of the tenant and a further 10 per cent. if he undertakes to pay the rates whether the house is occupied or not. It would be safe to predict that the vast majority of house owners will take advantage of the full 15 per cent. off the general rates permitted under this Bill

I wish to have one point made clear, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary with his legal and expert knowledge in regard to rent law will make it clear in the course of the Debate. I am not quite sure from my limited knowledge of the legal phraseology employed in the Bill, whether the practice which has become case law in the courts of the land is to continue when this Bill becomes law, namely, that for the period of the existing Rents Acts, any compounding allowances allowed by rating authorities are not retained by the house owner as extra profit but have to be allowed by him to the tenant in a corresponding reduction. If that position is to be maintained well and good, so far as it goes. If it is not to be maintained, and the house owner is to be legally entitled, despite the existing Rents Acts, to keep the whole of that 15 per cent. as extra profit in his own pocket, then I have no hesitation in saying, calmly and deliberately, that it is going to create serious discontent in the country, and I venture to say that house owners generally may get a nasty experience and something much worse than the Clyde experience

I think it is pretty evident that when you allow for the rebate on industrial properties in the Bill and for the increase which the other ratepayers will have to pay for the relief of industrial property, the rates will go up, generally speaking, throughout the country anything from 9d. in the £ to 2s. in the £ and even 3s. in the £ in some of the more necessitous areas. It is obvious that the Government have not made sufficient allowance for that burden. I suggest that the Government should, between now and the Committee stage, go into this matter carefully and see whether my estimate is right or wrong. If it is at all near the mark, the Government ought to leave the basis of rating alone until the period of rent control is ended so far as cottage assessments are concerned, whether that is to be three, five or 10 years hence. The impression has been left on my mind that the Government are out to relieve certain classes of industry at the expense of the bulk of the people. I suggest that the Government ought to relieve both industrial property and the trades people and the house owners and make good the loss by tapping the unearned wealth which is now going to the landowner in ground rents and mining royalties. Many millions are being extorted in this way by the landlord class from the people. This unearned wealth has been created by the social growth of the community and the benefits accruing from municipal enterprise and government

As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has pointed out, not one penny piece has ever been paid by the landlord class towards local rates from this unearned wealth. They ought to pay on the two principles of ability to pay and benefit received. They are able to pay, they should be made to pay and the relief of industrial properties should 1, met, not by putting the whole burden on the shoulders of the tenant class, but by making the landlord class pay for it out of the wealth which they receive but which they have done nothing to create. They get the benefit of the money spent by local authorities in the improvement of localities, in roads and so forth, and money derived from the increased value of the land consequent on these improvements should go to the relief of the community. I estimate that under this Bill in the whole area of the South Wales coalfield we are going to be saddled with an additional rating burden of about £1,000,000 per year. The South Wales coalfield is reputed to be the richest in the world. It produces the finest quality of coal and it has as enterprising coalowners and as fine a class of people among the miners as any coalfield in the world. Yet it is suffering most to-day from the depression of trade and, on top of the existing depression, we are asked to agree to this additional burden of £1,000,000 a year of rates. On behalf of the local authorities of South Wales I say they are against the proposals of the Bill, and I trust in Committee the Minister will consider the objections I have raised


It happened to be my good fortune this Session to he placed in charge of the introduction of that almost perennial Bill known as the Rating of Machinery Bill which was down for Second Reading to-morrow, but which will not be proceeded with, in view of the terms of the Government Bill now before the House. It would be presumptious of me to congratulate the Government on having reached the same conclusions as those reached by my friends and myself in this matter. We have both agreed to ignore the recommendation of the Departmental Committee as to the 25 per cent. Perhaps it was a case of intelligent anticipation on our part, but in any event we ought to pause for a moment to consider that we may no more see a Rating of Machinery Bill. Mine would have been the twentieth Bill of the kind, for 1 understand 19 Bills on the subject have been presented previosuly, but they all suffered the same fate through the eloquence of hon. Members on Friday afternoons, though one almost reached its Third Reading. We have in this Bill, however, proposals which we think are going to be of assistance to industry generally, if not to the coal mining industry, as the last speaker seemed to think. The Mover of the Amendment and the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Trevelyan Thomson) expressed the opinion that by this Bill we should only be shifting the burden on to the shoulders of the people who were least capable of bearing it. They missed the point of our argument which the Minister of Health has already put forward. We hope that owing to the reduction of the rates on machinery, par- titular industries will be able to get a measure of relief which will bring about more employment and the consequential reduction in the rates. That is the argument which we submit. It may not "come off "—that is another matter—but it is a legitimate line to take up. We welcome this Bill. Naturally from the historical and sentimental point of view we regret having to repeal Statutes going back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth, but the principle of the Bill is one to which we subscribe, and to which I think the whole Opposition also subscribe. Reading the reasoned Amendments on the Paper, the concluding passages of them brought to my mind an old quotation Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret. which I may translate as follows: Land taxes may be driven out by the pitchfork of electoral defeat but they still keep peeping out. In these Amendments I see such phrases as, "while welcoming a Bill which reduces," etc., and "whilst in favour of a Measure," and so on. In fact, the Opposition join with us in thinking that the Bill will simplify the collection of rates, promote a new form of valuation, reduce the cost of administration—which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Sir R. Sanders) has pointed out, will be of assistance to agriculture—and I, as one of the promoters of the Rating of Machinery Bill, believe it will help industry. We all, apparently, agree on these points, and I hope that the House will give a generous measure of support to the Government in this present undertaking


There must be many hon. Members who will really welcome the intention of the Government to simplify our whole rating system and to consolidate it along the lines suggested in this Bill. The sweeping away of the thousands of parochial authorities, the bringing together of the two main rates, the substitution of one recognised valuation throughout the whole country in place of the three and even the four valuations, and, I think, this attempt to do away with the enormous amount of litigation in connection with railway valuation, and to set up one national committee to do that work—all these things, I think, as has been said many times this afternoon—hon. Members of all parties appreciate very much. But when we come to Part II of the Bill, we are asked by the Minister of Health not to raise issues which are not immediately included in the Bill. Yet he himself has definitely raised the issue by going beyond the problem of structure, beyond this praiseworthy effort to simplify and consolidate the local rating system of the country, by actually interfering with the incidence of taxation in the shape of giving certain proposed benefits to those who own machinery under the various local authorities. He has, so to speak, lifted the curtain upon the whole problem of rating and valuation, and we feel very strongly that, if it be the intention of this Bill to confer benefits upon certain owners of machinery, then it is perfectly germane and logical for us to raise the whole issue of principle which is involved in that fact itself

We know that, from the point of view of business as well as from the point of view of the average householder in the country, there has been no time so serious in respect of local rates as the present. I remember 15 or 20 years ago, when I used to have to go to the police courts regularly to deal with the problems of unpaid water rates, unpaid general district rates, and unpaid poor rates, how in those days there were, in relatively small boroughs, hundreds of cases of honest working men and women who could not face their burdens of rating, and every hon. Member knows that that problem has grown still more acute in the last five or six years, and that the number of unpaid rates and of summonses in the Courts in respect of them are a tremendous local burden, sometimes involving quite serious additions to the rates. Therefore, at a time when the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to relieve the rates on machinery, we feel that these more general considerations are of great urgency and importance, and that it is not enough, in bringing a constructive Bill of this kind before the House, simply to deal with a mere fragment of relief, but that the larger issue of a much more substantial relief of the rates, not to a particular class, but to the whole of the ratepayers throughout the country, should have been brought within the purview of the Bill. We definitely suggest that there are important sources, sources which have been only too long neglected in the country, which this Government, in seeking to codify and reorganise the local rating system, ought to have taken seriously into account at this time. We refer especially to the big sources of untaxed land values, which have been for 40 years now a subject of contention in and outside this House. We feel, as a party, that the mere omission to bring these potential values on to the rating system of the nation is simply the continuance of one of the most fundamental injustices in our whole local taxing system. In my own constituency, for example, there has been opened up a few years ago the construction of a reservoir for the water supply of the inhabitants of the City of Sheffield. That land, for years out of mind, has merely been taxed as agricultural land. Sheffield has been busy growing for half a century, developing its metallurgical industries developing its university life, and building itself up as one of the big cities of Yorkshire, and when all that social, creative work has been going on for 40 or 50 years, you suddenly get the demand, for the service of the people, for a new kind of reservoir. A place is found, in a little valley, the land is taken over, and you find, if you inquire into the cost of purchasing that land, that it is, as in all similar cases, altogether out of proportion to the actual rateable value that has been levied on that land for the whole of the period

We feel that this system of neglecting a fundamental source of wealth for local rating purposes is a very serious omission from the present Bill. I find, from Parliamentary papers that I was looking through yesterday, that in connection with our urban authorities, out of a total of something over 4,000,000 acres of land, two-thirds of that amount is classified as agricultural for rating purposes, and yields, therefore, only ridiculously small sums for the local revenues. That means that a very oppressive burden is put upon the great mass of the ratepayers. From the housing point of view, and not simply from the point of view of an extension of rating, we feel that this method of improving the local incidence of taxation ought to be included in this Bill. When we remember the fabulous prices that are charged for land to-day in order to get houses built, land which is paying only 3s. and 4s. per acre, when we remember that landlords, when they gut the chance to sell, are charging 2500, £800 and even £1,000 and more an acre, at a time when they are paying practically nothing at all to the local rating system, we find it difficult to understand how the people continue to accept quietly such a system of taxation. Therefore, we want to raise this whole issue. The right hon. Gentleman has said, very plainly and definitely, that he does propose to give a certain amount of relief to a certain small class of local ratepayers. He has not made it clear where that relief is going to come from, and it seems perfectly plain that the burden is going to fall primarily upon the great mass a the ratepayers themselves

We have been told to wait for the future for this extension of rating relief. But, if I may say so, we have already waited a very long time. A great party has used the language which has been used in this House this afternoon, in connection with the Amendment, for some 25 or 30 years. It is 40 years, I think, since a Royal Commission reported first upon this subject of taxation, arid then suggested propositions, which my party is advocating this afternoon, for the definite rating of land values and its incorporation in the local rating system. We feel that the time has come when, in so great and, if I may say so, so statesmanlike a Measure of revision, of co-ordination, of simplifying the structure of local rating, when the Minister himself has ventured to interfere with the incidence of rating, he might have gone further, and at least have set up a committee to take a valuation of the land of the country and hare given, if not compulsory powers, at least optional powers to those municipalities and cities in the country which care to go ahead with their taxing system to open up this new source of just and legitimate revenue, until they can get which they will never be able satisfactorily to deal with the pressing burdens that confront them now. I beg, on these grounds, to support the Amendment


I want to deal with a few points and to answer some of the questions which have been raised in the Debate this afternoon, but I should like to say, first, on behalf, I think, of the whole House, how much we have appreciated the speech of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Rennie Smith), who has just sat down, and who evidently has a great knowledge of many of the: matters mentioned in this Bill. I believe he defeated at the last Election a Member whom we knew very well in this House (Mr. Pringle), and it is refreshing to know that that division has returned a man of, perhaps, a different kind, but one who certainly contributes very much to the value of our debates. May I say that I think, having heard the whole of the Debate this afternoon, that I shall have the assent of the whole House, with perhaps one or two exceptions—I agree, of an important character—when I say that this Bill has received very general approval? If I went through the various Clauses and referred to the matters dealt, with in them, such as the institution of one valuation instead of four valuations, the reducing of the rating authorities of this country by more than 50 per cent., the important suggestion that is made of having one general rate for local purposes, instead of many, as we have at present, I think it could fairly be said that, so far as this Debate is concerned, most of the provisions have received, having regard, naturally, to the complicated nature of the Bill and the diversity of interests affected, very general approval indeed. We are obliged to the hon. Members for receiving it in this way I quite agree that in one or two matters considerable criticism has been made, and I want to deal with a few of the more important points that have arisen. If I am not able to answer all the questions, I am sure hon. Members will appreciate that we shall be able to do so when we reach the Committee stage of the Bill. The right hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan), who moved the Amendment, generally approved, 1 think, most of the portions of the Bill to which I have already referred, but he implied that in two respects, in connection with railways and in connection with the rating of machinery, he disapproved of the proposals in the Bill. Let me tell him, in regard to the railway provisions, that no further reliefs, so far as railways are concerned, are proposed in this Bill. He asked why the railway companies viewed the change in the Bill with joy, and I think I can answer that question to his satisfaction and to that of the House. The old principle, so far as the valuation of railways is concerned, remains, but the old method is certainly not preserved, and I can understand very well indeed—and I daresay the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) will bear me out in this—no railway company being aggrieved at the proposition made in this Bill, I hope in a proper and appropriate way, of their having no longer to deal with their lines and stations and all the rest of it in relation to parishes. When one thinks of the multiplication of work, and calculations, and documents that have to be. supplied under our ordinary system at the present time, one can understand that the railway companies, which have to keep expensive and extensive staffs for this purpose, are very glad to see this Bill

The Bill will simplify the valuation, and, certainly, relieve the railway companies—quite rightly—of a great deal of litigation, and it will improve the whole system. That is the simple position so far as the railway companies are concerned. The most important criticism I have met so far in the Debate this afternoon has been the criticism of the proposals in the Bill in relation to the rating of machinery. It has been asked, as it was by the last speaker, why should these he introduced into the Bill? It is bringing in a new incidence of taxation and a new method, which should he brought in by a Bill dealing purely with machinery. I think the answer to that, if one has studied this question of the rating of machinery and its history in this country, is, that the proposals in this Bill are really carrying out what, I believe, has always been the intention of Parliament. The real reason why people find their machinery rated to-day as they do is largely owing to what I may call case-made law

What has been stated in this matter Go back to the year 1840—and this has been apparently overlooked by the Courts in many of the decisions that have been given—and note what is stated in the Poor Rate Exemption Act of that year. It exempted the inhabitants from liability to be rated as such in respect of stock-in-trade or other property. As a matter of fact the proposals in this Bill are little different from what is the law in regard to the rating of machinery in Scotland, and possibly, in Ireland today. Therefore one cannot but say, if you have regard to the whole position, that no new matter of principle has in fact been imported into this Bill. If one looks at the Report of the Royal Commission and the special Committees on the subject that have sat from time to time I think it will be found that they bear out a good deal of what I say. There was a certain well known case in the House of Lords, and another case in the Court of Appeal, the effect of which was that the cases went a great deal further than the authorities and, certainly, than Parliament, ever intended. I think everyone will agree, whatever view they may take of what ought to be done as to the exemption of machinery that, at any rate, the present position, so far as the rating of machinery is concerned, is impossible and intolerable. Two instances occur to my mind, which, I dare say, hon. Members at the present moment who are connected with industrial districts know about, where one rating authority is putting into practice a decision of the House of Lords, and the other partially putting it into effect. That is a perfectly impossible position for manufacturers who are competing for orders in the same area, for one is much more heavily handicapped than another. I venture to say to the House that, quite apart from the merits of these proposals in this Bill, no one can allow the present position to continue if you want to be fair and just It has been stated by several hon. Members and emphasised very strongly indeed by the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) that the provisions of this Bill will act very unfairly and harshly upon other ratepayers. I understood him to take as his instance the existing industrial conditions in Middlesbrough. At the present time, I suppose, the real reason for the heavy burden in Middlesbrough is its heavy unemployment. What is the best way to attack this? One of the best ways to attack the unemployment problem in Middlesbrough, I venture to say, is that of getting trade and industry in Middlesbrough going again. If you do that you will soon relieve your rates, especially those due to unemployment in that particular district. I am rather afraid that that point is not sufficiently appreciated by the critics of these proposals, for the relief in this respect will in the end be considerable, and help to lighten taxation and the rates. I venture to ask the House in this connection to take a long view. Only the other day I heard the Leader of the Opposition and other Members of the House say that the great burden on industry was the burden due to the rates, which means, so it is suggested that rates have to be paid though no profits are made. At any rate, this one matter will help them. The hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. Mardy Jones) dealt with the matter in relation to the mines. lie seemed to have some extraordinary figures, which I cannot accept, and he seemed to make out that there was an extra £1,000,000 in rates in his particular district


The hon. Member for Pontypridd referred generally to the district, to the whole area, and not to his constitutency alone


That may be so. I was wondering whether I heard the hon. Member aright, but as I am not a lightning calculator, I took the figures as I seemed to hear them. But what is the position of the mines at the present time? I suppose the greatest help you could give to the mines would be greater production. You are not going to get that unless you stimulate trade and industry


May I—HON. MEMBERS: "Order! Order! "] Mr. Speaker will call me to order, if need be. May I point out to the Parliamentary Secretary that in the mining districts, when the mines shut down there are no rates paid by the mines. But the miners who are unemployed still go on paying the rates


Then the best way in Which to get the miners employed again is to get more production in the country, to stimulate trade and industry, certainly as we are doing by the provisions of this Bill. I ask hon. Members to have regard to that particular aspect—I believe a very important aspect—of the proposals that we are making to the House. Whatever may be said of the present position, no one, I think, can allow the present inequalities and injustices in regard to the rating of machinery to continue. Conse- quently, anyone who has studied matters, and has regard to Scotland and Ireland, will see that it is carrying out the original intention of Parliament. Thirdly, we are dealing with the assessment committees, which, I think, is a very vital improvement. It will be of great benefit to the whole of the community

There is a criticism which arises in connection with these proposals which was put to me by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Wells (Sir R. Sanders). He spoke of the uneasiness manifested in certain parts of the country in regard to the demands we are making, and to the fact that under this Bill the revenue officer may, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman thought, have undue power arid be able to exercise undue influence. I have seen other documents with far bolder statements, in which it was said that this Bill is going to introduce a new rating inquisitor into the operations of the rating of this country. Ratepayers as well as taxpayers are to be left to the tender mercies of the revenue officials of the Treasury. That description is inaccurate, and really there is no foundation for it in connection with the proposals of this Bill. It is perfectly true that certain further powers are to be given to the officers—not of a very extensive character —but, after all, the suggestions of The local authorities have weight. appearance of the revenue officer before the assessment committee is an important matter indeed, but he stands in exactly the same position as the rating authority itself, and the ratepayers

Members of London divisions know that since 1869 surveyors and inspectors of taxes have possessed statutory duties in connection with the valuation of rates in London, including the right of sitting with the assessment committees, and of inserting their own gross values in the valuation lists. But everybody who has given a fair consideration to this matter knows that if you have one valuation, as we propose in this Bill, the revenue officer should have some method of putting the point of view of the Inland Revenue before the assessment committees at, every stage. But the decision, after he has had the opportunity of putting his case, rests with the local representatives. I venture to hope that after the explanation which has been given in the House that that matter will be cleared up, for, perhaps, the provisions of the Bill have not been sufficiently appreciated. But there is no foundation, at any rate, for saying that the proposals in the Bill at the present time mean that the Inland Revenue officer has an undue place or is able to exercise improper influence. There is another suggestion that has been made to the effect that there is considerable distrust in rural districts owing to the proposed abolition of the assessment committees. But I notice that even the Association of Poor Law Unions agree that there ought to be a change in that direction.

8.0 P.M.

They have stated in the suggestion that they have made to the Ministry, that the power of Poor Law assessment committees should remain unimpaired, but that such committees should be enlarged by the admission of representatives from other spending authorities and the commissioner of Income Tax, but that in all cases members of the assessment committees appointed by the boards of guardians should constitute a majority of the assessment committees. So really the issue now is in regard to the majority of the assessment committees. It is agreed that the committees have to be extended in their personnel, but what the boards of guardians desire is to retain a majority on the committees. When it is realized that 99 per cent. of the expenditure to-day is chargeable upon a larger area than the parish, it is seen that that is an impossible position, however much one may appreciate the work done by the guardians. No one desire to decry it. I hope the House will agree that in this Bill we have given due representation to the Poor Law guardians. A real effort has been made to meet the position. The hon. Member for East Fulham (Colonel Vaughan-Morgan) has put a case which involves a criticism of the proposal in the Bill that there shall be one valuation for all purposal in the Bill that there shall be one valuation for all purposes. I think it is fair to say that apart from that criticism, and, perhaps, the criticism of one other authority, there is not a single authority in the country which does not approve of the important principle of one valuation for all purposes. We have, for instance, received the approval of the National Conference of Assessment Committees, the Association of Poor Law Unions, the Association of Municipal. Corporations, the County Councils Association, and a body which I should have thought would have been particularly anxious to look after the interest of people who, it is said, may be affected by the proposals of the Bill--the National Federation of Property Owners. That Federation sent a communication on the question of the constitution of assessment committees and in it stated: The Federation wishes to support and emphasise the view that both the gross and rateable value should be entered in the valuation lists. The experience in London has justified the proposals that we now make. In another communication which we have received from the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Committee, 1924, it is stated that The system in London has worked well for half a century. I agree that we must have regard to some of the difficulties that have arisen, and this we shall do in Committee, if that be at all possible without destroying the principle of the Bill. It will be agreed that, having regard to the practical agreement of everyone with the principle of one valuation, it would be impossible now to make any variation of the kind suggested. Such a variation would go right against our main proposals

There is only one other point I desire to make, and that is in reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Pontypridd, who spoke about the collection of rates by owners, and referred to some point, which I am afraid I did not directly appreciate, regarding the Rent Restrictions Acts. I can say to him that there is no proposal in the Bill which will in any way vary or alter the Rent Restrictions Acts. If we wanted to alter the Acts we would have to do so by express enactment. I do not think the hon. Member can have appreciated the proposals of the Bill in connection with the collection of rates by owners. All that we are suggesting in the Bill is that owners should be made liable to account for the rates actually received by them. If they collect the rates on that basis then they will receive a small percentage. Under the provisions of the Bill they would simply be responsible for the rates received and no more. On the question of what is called compounding, everyone who has had experience will agree that many of the conditions now are of a very extravagant nature and that alterations and reform were certainly necessary

I will say a word or two on the Amendment. As I understood the right hon. Gentleman who moved it practically agrees with the main portions of the Bill, except in relation to the rating of machinery. To my surprise, he and the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said that in some way or other some further proposals must be made involving the rating of land. The House must have regard to previous experiments made in this same connection. I think the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has a very short memory. He has many qualities, and that may be one of them. He may remember the somewhat similar proposals that he made in connection with a famous Finance Act, and how very disastrous, especially to house building, was the effect of his proposal. I was very surprised to hear the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough talk about the taxation of land, in view of the present shortage of houses, because with the single exception of the effect of the War I suppose that nothing has brought about a greater accumulation of difficulties in connection with housing than the proposals of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs in his Finance Act of 1909-10. Wherever you go the small builder and investor will tell you that he was frightened away from house building by those proposals. An hon. Gentleman said that the present situation will bring about a most fabulous price for land in connection with house building. There could be no more complete misconception. At present the cost of the land in connection with the

average worker's house provided under the Housing Acts is simply £20 per house. That has been the average price all over the country for every house that you see


That is about £240 an acre


I have reminded the House what were the results of the last land taxes. We should give due considerations to facts rather than to aspirations in this matter, though it may be a painful thing to have to do. The maximum yield of the land taxes was £1,800,000, and I very much regret to say that, according to the Report of the Board of Inland Revenue, the cost was £5,000,000. If the Minister of Health adopted the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs I think he would be met with a much bigger volume of objection. The people of the country would rightly say to him: "You have already made this experiment. Instead of getting anything out of this taxation in the past we have had to pay heavily for it." This Bill is an attempt, and a big attempt, to deal with difficulties which have confronted local authorities and everybody who has worked in municipal life for many years. It is the greatest attempt to deal with the situation, and I confidently appeal to the House to give the Bill a Second Reading now

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 285; Noes, 129

Division No. 100.] AYES [8.15 p.m
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Bethell, A. Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T Betterton, Henry B Burman, J. B
Ainsworth, Major Charles Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Burton, Colonel H. W
Albery, Irving James Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Butler, Sir Geoffrey
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Blundell, F. N Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Calne, Gordon Hall
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Campbell, E. T
Ashmead-Bartlett, E Boyd-Carpenter, Major A Cautley, Sir Henry S
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Brass, Captain W Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)
Atholl, Duchess of Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Cecil. Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn(Aston)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Briggs, J. Harold Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Ladywood)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Briscoe, Richard George Charterls, Brigadier-General J
Balniel, Lord Brittain, Sir Harry Chilcott, Sir Warden
Barclay-Harvey, C. M Brocklebank, C. E. R Christie, J. A
Barnett, Major Richard W Brooke, Brigadier-General C.R. I Churchman, Sir Arthur C
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Broun-Lindsay, Major H Clarry, Reginald George
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W Brown, Maj. D.C.(N'th'l'd., Hexham) Clayton, G. C
Bann, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Cobb, Sir Cyril
Bennett, A. J Buckingham, Sir H Cochrane, Commander Hon. A.D
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Connolly, M
Berry, Sir George Bullock, Captain M Conway, Sir W. Martin
Couper, J. B Holland, Sir Arthur Radford, E. A
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Holt, Captain H. P Ralne, W
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Homan, C. W. J Ramsden, E
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Rawson, Alfred Cooper
Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend) Hopkins, J. W. W Rees, Sir Beddoe
Crookshank, Col. C. de W.(Berwick) Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Remer, J, R
Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro) Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N Remnant, Sir James
Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert Howard, Captain Hon. Donald Rhys, Hon. C.A.U
Curzon, Captain Viscount Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Rice, Sir Frederick
Dalkeith, Earl of Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, whiteh'n) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd) Hume, Sir G. H Roberts, E. H. G.(Flint)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J.H Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Roberts, Samuel(Hereford, Hereford)
Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton) Hurd, Percy A Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)
Davies, Sir Thomas(Clrencester) Hurst, Gerald B. Ropner, Major L
Dawson, Sir Philip Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Mldl'n & P'bl's Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A
Dean, Arthur Wellesley Iliffe, Sir Edward M Russell, Alexander West(Tynemouth)
Dixey, A.C Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H Rye, F. G
Doyle, Sir N. Grattan Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S Salmon, Major I
Drewe, C Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Sandeman, A. Stewart
Duckworth, John Jacob, A.E Sanders, Sir Robert A
Eden, Captain Anthony James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Sanderson, Sir Frank
Edmondson, Major A. J Jephcott, A. R Sandon, Lord
Edwards, John H. (Accrington) Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D
Elliot, Captain Walter E Kidd, J. (Linlithgow) Savery, S. S
Ellis, R. G King, Captain Henry Douglas Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)
Elvedon, Viscount Knox, Sir Alfred Shaw, Lt.-Col A. D. Mol. (Renfrew, W)
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R Shaw, Capt. W. W.(Wilts, Westb'y)
Everard, W. Lindsay Lloyd, Cyril E.(Dudley) Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Fairfax, Captain J. G Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Simms, Dr. John M.(Co. Down)
Falle, Sir Bertram G Loder, j. de V Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ Belfst
Fanshawe, Commander G. D Looker, Herbert William Smith R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc' dine, C.)
Fermoy, Lord Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Smith-Carington, Neville W
Fleming, D. P Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Smithers, Waldron
Forrest; W Lynn, Sir R. J Somerville, A. A(Windsor)
Foster, Sir Harry S MacAndrew, Charles Glen Spender Clay, Colonel H
Foxcroft, Captain C. T Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Stanley, Col. Hon. G.F.(will'sden, E.)
Fraser, Captain Ian McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Stanley, Lord Fylde)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E Maclntyre, Ian Stanley Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony McLean, Major A Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Ganzoni, Sir John Macmillan, Captain H Storry Deans, R
Gates, Percy Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H
Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Stuart, Crichton-, Lord c
Gee, Captain R Macquisten, F.A Stuart, Hon. J.(Moray and Nairn)
Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham MacRobert, Alexander M Styles, Captain H. Walter
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Glyn, Major R. G. C Malone, Major P. B Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Goff, Sir Park Manningham-Bulier, Sir Mervyn Thomson, F. c. (Aberdeen, South)
Gower, Sir Robert Margesson, Captain D Tinne, J. A
Grace, John Meller, R.J Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P
Greene, W. P. Crawford Merriman, F.B Waddington, R
Greenwood, William (Stockport) Meyer, Sir Frank Wallace, Captain D. E
Grotrian, H. Brent Milne, J. S. Wardlaw- Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Guest, Capt Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Warner, Brigadier-General W. W
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Gunston, Captain D. W Moore, Sir Newton J Watson, Rt. Hon. W.(Carlisle)
Hacking, Captain Douglas H Morden, Col. W. Grant White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple
Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Hanbury, C Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Murchlson, C. K Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Harland, A Nelson, Sir Frank Winby, Colonel L. P
Harrison, G.J.C Neville, R. J Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Hartington, Marquess of Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Nicholson, William G (Petersfleid) Wise, Sir Fredric
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Nuttall, Ellis Womersley, W. J
Haslam, Henry C Oakley, T Wood, B.C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Hawke, John Anthony O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W.R., Ripon)
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M Oman, Sir Charles William C Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge Hyde)
Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Pennefather, Sir John Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Henn, Sir Sydney H Percy, Lord Eustace (Hasting) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L
Henniker-Hughan, Vice Adm. Sir A Perkins, Colonel E.K Wragg, Herbert
Herbert, Dennis(Hertford, Wattord) Peto, Basil E.(Devon, Barnstaple) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T
Hilton, Cecil Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S J. G Pilcher, G TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Price, Major C. W. M Major Hennessy and Major Sir Harry Barnston
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Batey, Joseph Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Beckett, John (Gateshead) Buchanan, G
Alexander, A. V (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Benn, Captain Wedgwood(Leith) Cluse, w. S
Baker, J. (Wolverhamplon, Bllston) Briant, Frank Compton, Joseph
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Broad, F. A Cove, W. G
Barr, J Bromley, J Dalton, Hugh
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Kelly, W. T Snell, Harry
Day, Colonel Harry Kirkwood, D Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Dennison, R Lansbury, Gearge Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Duncan, C Lawson, John James Stamford, T.W
Fenby, T. D Lee, F Stephen, Campbell
Garro-Jones, Captain G M Livingstone, A. M Sutton, J.E
George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd Lowth, T Taylor, R. A
Gibbins, Joseph Lunn, William Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Gillett, George M MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon) Thomson, Trevelyan (Mlddlesbro. W.)
Gosling, Harry Macklnder, W Thorne, G.R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) MacLaren, Andrew Thurtle, E
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Tinker, John Joseph
Greenall, T March, S Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Maxton, James Viant, S. P
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Morris, R. H Wallhead, Richard C
Griffiths, T.(Monmouth, Pontypool) Murnin, H Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Groves, T Oliver, George Harold Warn, G. H
Grundy, T.W Palln, John Henry Watson, W.M.(Dunfermilne)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Paling, W Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Potts, John S Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Hall, G.H.(Merthyr Tydvil) Richardson, R.(Houghton-le-Spring) Westwood, J
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Riley, Ben Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J
Hardle, George D Ritson, J Whiteley, W
Harris, Percy A Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell) Wignall, James
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Saklatvala, Shapurji Wilkinson, Ellen C
Hayday, Arthur Salter, Dr. Alfred Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Hayes, John Henry Scrymgeour, E Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Hirst, G. H Sexton, James Williams, Dr. J.H.(Lianelly)
Hirst, W.(Bradford, South) Shiels, Dr. Drummond Williams, T.(York, Don Valley)
Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Short, Alfred(Wednesbury) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Sitch, Charles H Windsor, Walter
Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Siesser, Sir Henry H Wright, W
Jones, Henry Haydn(Merioneth) Smillie, Robert Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Jones, J. J.(West Ham, Silvertown) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Jones, Morgan(Caerphilly) Smith, H.B. Lees(Keighley) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Smith, Rennie (Penlstone) Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. T Kennedy

Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee