HC Deb 02 April 1930 vol 237 cc1282-3
Viscount ELMLEY

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend Section Eleven of the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925. As amended by this Bill, Sub-section (1) of Section 11 of the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, would read as follows: The rating authority may by resolution direct that, in the case of all dwelling-houses in their area which belong to a class defined in the resolution by reference to rateable value and also, if rent is paid, by reference to the interval at which rent from time to time becomes payable or is collected, the owners thereof shall be rated instead of the occupiers. The scheme by which the owner of small cottage properties can arrange with a local authority to pay the rates upon those small properties is well understood. It is a scheme which works well, saving the local authorities expense, trouble, and delay in collecting rates, and saving the tenants concerned from being asked to pay half-yearly or quarterly sums which might make very heavy inroads on their weekly earnings. I believe this system is highly desirable as applied to residential property. Under the Rating and Valuation Act of 1925 the scheme applies to all kinds of properties irrespective of the nature and use of those properties. I would like to give as an example the case of a certain rural district in Norfolk where this system applies to mills, brush works, cider works, mineral water works, builders' shops, a railway station, and other railway properties, and sundry tithes and sporting rights. In the majority of those cases the owner and occupier are one and the same person, and such people merely pay less rates than they would otherwise pay if rated in the usual way as occupiers, because they would then have to pay the rate in full. Under Section 11, Subsections (1) and (2), of the Rating and Valuation Act of 1925 the tenant is allowed to take the compounding allowance upon giving an undertaking to pay the rates whether the premises are occupied or not, and that is a kind of undertaking which can quite safely be given.

I do not see how this state of affairs benefits any local authority at all. I think it is quite clear that in parts of England where you find that the rateable value of property is low, this loss of money to the local authorities imposes a heavy and needless burden on local public finance. I suggest that the real object of a compounding provision in the Rating and Valuation Act of 1925 would be quite adequately secured if those provisions are made to apply only to dwelling-houses, and not to other classes of property. I think this change has to be made sooner or later, and I do not see why it should not be made sooner than later. I believe that it will be welcomed all over the country by a great many local authorities.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Viscount Elmley, Mr. Christie, Mr. W. B. Taylor, Mr. Harbord, Mr. Butler, Mr. Holford Knight, Mr. Frank Owen, Mr. Alpass, Mr. Foot, and Mr. Kedward.