HC Deb 19 June 1930 vol 240 cc733-6

The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. MARJORIBANKS:

In page 18, line 24, to leave out from the word "section" to the word "shall" in line 26.


I should have a great deal to say on this matter, but I have received an assurance for the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we shall have a future discussion on matters concerning London on Clause 26. I put down the Amendment in order to discuss the Schedule which makes little or no provision for London, but as we are to discuss this question on Clause 26 I do not propose to move the Amendment.


I understand that the hon. Member does not move.

Motion made, and Question proposed: "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I desire an explanation from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the meaning of Sub-section (2).

In that Sub-section there appear the words: So far as may be I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to explain what is the purpose of those words. The exact reason for their inclusion is rather obscure, and I should be very much obliged if he would explain their purpose.


The reason is in order that appropriate methods may be adopted for dealing with the question of property which arises more recently than the previous year. In ordinary circumstances the value taken would be that of the preceding year. In some cases, it is the nearest to the preceding year or the property may have only come recently into effective existence. It is just to cover these cases that these words are included.


Is not that covered by the ordinary procedure? Is this separate from the ordinary procedure?


it would apply to the year of valuation itself and is intended for the purposes I have indicated. For these reasons, the words are inserted.


I apologise to the Financial Secretary, but I want him to make it clear that there is no alteration in procedure and that the ordinary procedure will be adhered to as heretofore. He is not introducing any new method?


I can assure the hon. Member on the point. It says that the assesment is to be on the valuation of the preceding year, while in the case of new property there is no valuation of the preceding year. The Clause is intended to meet cases of that sort.


Would it not be possible between now and the Report stage to find words to carry out the explanation which the Chancellor has just made? If he is dealing with the specific case in which there is no valuation for the preceding year, and therefore no value can apply, why does he not put those words in the Clause instead of using words which may mean almost anything? In general terms, it suggests that where convenient something shall happen, and where it is inconvenient it shall not happen. Surely, we might have some more precise words to carry out the explanation which has been given instead of the very vague words? I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make it clear what is the purpose in putting in these words at all. Let him put in words which are appropriate to his explanation so that anybody will be able to understand what is the scope and limitation of this matter. I do suggest that, although it may not be very easy always to define precisely what is the intention of every Clause of the Finance Bill, it is surely better to put in some words which will really explain what are the exceptions which are being made. The right hon. Gentleman made it very clear to the Committee that the only thing in his mind was the case where there was no previous valuation, and I suggest that between now and the Report stage words to that effect should be put into the Bill.


I gather that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in mind cases where property which has been practically valueless becomes, by reason of something that is done to it, something of value and that that is the case which he wishes to meet. There is the case of a property which, though nearly valueless one year, becomes of considerable value in the next year. That property is to be valued on the previous year's, valuation "so far as may be." It may be valued "so far as may be" on the value of the previous year, although that value is very low. [HON. MEMBERS: "Or non-existent."] I am not dealing with the case of property to which no value whatever has attached, but with the case in which there has been a very big change in values. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in those circumstances wants a new valuation in the actual year under consideration, instead of acting on the valuation of the previous year, but those words will not effect that purpose.


I think that the hon. Gentleman is now discussing an Amendment which is on the Paper to leave out those words but it is the Clause as a whole which is before the Committee.


With respect, I submit that, while there is no Amendment before us, the hon. and gallant Member for Fulham (Lieut.-Colonel Vaughan-Morgan) on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" asked for an explanation of the effect and purpose of those words and it to that explanation that I am referring. I suggest that those words will not do what the Chancellor wishes to do and, as I say, I am not referring to cases where there has been no value, but to cases where there has been a negligible value and where the property has afterwards acquired a real and substantial value. It would be quite possible, although it might be absurd and not in accordance with the intentions of the Chancellor, to value a property on which £10,000 had been spent on the value which it had in a previous year before that money had been spent upon it. I think that those words require further consideration.


In the case of a building which is about to be erected, how is it possible to arrive at any value except by an utter guess? The practice in London is not to make a value until the building is erected. Further, provisional lists of valuations are always issued beforehand which would seem to cover the point raised in this Clause.


I think it is perfectly clear that those words "as far as may be" refer to cases in which no assessment exists, that is, to practically new property, though there may be some exceptions. My objection is that the words are a little obscure but I think the principle is a well-known principle. An old valuation could only be applied "so far as may be."

Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" put, and agreed to.