§ Mr. Wakefield (Swindon)
I beg to move, in page 12, line 9, at the end, to insert "being land."
The object of this Amendment is to make sure that, as is presumably the intention, only those properties which, if damaged, rank for compensation under Part I shall be liable to contributions under that Part. At present compensation under Part I is payable for war damage to land, as set out in Clause 2, line 4, but contributions are payable on every property—which is a much wider word—that is either assessed for Schedule A Income Tax or valued for rates, as set out in Clauses 13 and 14. Therefore, if there is anything which is not land, but which is a contributory property, the owner may be liable to pay contributions but not able to claim compensation under this Part. In addition, since "goods" are defined in Clause 68, line 41, as including all corporeal property not falling within the meaning of the expression "land," any such thing would come under the business scheme for chattels in Part II. The owner will thus have to be insured and to pay the premiums under Part II. Thus he will be in a position of paying under Part I and Part II and being able to receive compensation only under Part II.
It seems that there may be properties in this position—some of the works of public utility undertakers, such a s transformers, switchgear and meters in the street, or on a consumer's premises. Possibly electric lines and cables are in the same position. The network of wires of a broadcast relay company is possibly a case. The special receiving and amplifying plant is an even clearer instance. This plant certainly, and the network possibly, are plant and machinery in the ordinary sense. They are, therefore, expressly excluded from paragraph (a) of the definition of land as set down in page 30, lines 6 and 7, and since they are certainly not part of the carefully 853 restricted class of plant and machinery expressly mentioned in paragraph (b), lines 8 to 18, they are not brought back into the definition of land in that paragraph. On the other hand, they are, in many cases, "contributory property," under Clause 14, because they are rated.
It may well be that the Chancellor of the Exchequer considers this Amendment unnecessary. He may well say that what is assessed under Schedule A is land and, as the basis of rating is occupation of land, any rating in respect of the subjects to which I have just referred must rest on that basis. But I would like to draw his attention to the fact that while it is true that what is assessed under Schedule A is land, and that the basis of rating is occupation of land, land in this Bill has in one respect a special and rather narrow meaning, that is in regard to plant and machinery. The only plant and machinery included is the sort of plant and machinery described in the Valuation for Rating Order, 1927, and in Clause 41, page 30, line 11, there is a reference to that point. That Order, however, only set out the sort of plant and machinery which is taken into account in a rating valuation not made on a profit basis. Public utility undertakings are assessed on a profit basis and in their case the rating valuation will take into account things which are certainly plant and machinery, but not of the sort mentioned in the Valuation for Rating Order, 1927—such examples are receiving and amplifying apparatus, transformers of electricity undertakers fixed in the street, and possibly, but not quite so certainly, switchgear and wireless and cables erected on or over streets or over private property. These things are left out of the definition of land by the use of the words "other than plant and machinery," in lines 6 and 7 on page 30, and the reference to the Valuation for Rating Order, 1927, in lines 8 to 16. Therefore, they are "goods" under Part II, but as they are part of the subject of the Valuation for Rating Order, they are also part of the "contributory properties" under Clause 14. The result is that none of these things will receive compensation under Part I while they will be left to contribute under Part I and also under Part II.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Crookshank)
I am very sorry, 854 before this Amendment was reached, that my hon. Friend did not inform me—
§ Captain Crookshank
I must apologise; I thought it was a new one. All I can say is that it is a question of interpretation, and I am advised that the Amendment is unnecessary because of the definition in Clause 41 (1), which the hon. Member quoted, and, as it is an established rule not to insert unnecessary words during a Committee stage, I hope the hon. Member will not press his Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir Frank Sanderson (Ealing)
I beg to move, in page 12, to leave out lines 10 to 19, and to insert:the full amount of which is insured against fire risk.I am sure that the purpose of this Amendment meets with the general approval and approbation of the whole country, even if my right hon. Friend is unable to accept it. The Amendment seeks to alter the principle of the assessment of the contributions from that of Schedule A to the adoption of the principle of the life insurance companies, namely, that the contributions should be based upon the amount at which the property is insured against fire. It must be obvious, if this principle is adopted, that 75 per cent. or 80 per cent. of the difficulties which will inevitably arise under this Bill will disappear. We should have a simple method of assessment, and we should have a simple method of assessing the amount on which the contribution was to be paid, and, if we carry it one step further, we should have a very simple method for effecting settlements. What is it that is really suggested? I suggest there is little or no difference between a contribution to be made under this Bill and a premium which is made for fire insurance purposes. The suggestion is that for the purposes of this Bill contributions should be regarded as a premium. If the amount was assessed on the basis of the amount at which the property was insured for fire, then it would be possible for the insurance companies to collect the Government's contributions also and to hand them either to the Chancellor of the Ex- 855 chequer or to the President of the Board of Trade. I have two or three other Amendments on the Order Paper which cover more or less the same point, and I do not propose therefore at this stage to elaborate my point, save to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give it his consideration between now and the Report stage.
§ Sir K. Wood
I appreciate the considerations which my hon. Friend has raised and put so forcibly before the Committee. We did, in fact, give a great deal of consideration to this suggestion, as hon. Members know, before we brought this Measure before the House. It is most attractive at first sight, and, if there had been a simple and easy way of adopting this procedure, I should have been one of the first to adopt it. I have seen a number of deputations and a number of my colleagues during the last few weeks, and I think it may be said that to-day, at any rate, it is recognised that, with all its imperfections, the course that we have adopted in Schedule A is the best in all the circumstances. I have never disguised the fact that there may be many objections raised to it, but, on the whole, we think our method is best. We found that there was great difficulty if you attempted to use the fire insurance premium method. Some properties are not covered for insurance and there are numbers of cases where the owners prefer to carry their own risk. Then we found that in a number of cases the fire insurance valuation would be insufficient for the purpose, and in still other cases that the amount that would be covered would be excessive. In other words, it was almost impossible, as the basis for a Bill of this kind, to take the value that had been placed by the people themselves. As far as the collection of premiums is concerned, we were in a greater difficulty still, because in very many cases the person who normally takes out the insurance is not the owner of the proprietary interest. For all these reasons we reluctantly had to abandon that proposal, and I cannot promise my hon. Friend that the matter can be reconsidered at this stage of the Bill. I only wish it had been possible to adopt his suggestion.
§ Sir F. Sanderson
My right hon. Friend will be aware that, in the event of loss under a fire insurance policy, the onus of 856 value rests entirely with the insurer, and therefore there will be no difficulty should my principle be accepted. He stated that there are cases where property is not insured. I am sure he appreciates that the percentage of properties which are not insured for fire is very small.
§ Sir John Mellor (Tamworth)
I cannot help thinking that my right hon. Friend in coming to this decision, has been guided by what is the easiest administrative course rather than having regard to fairness and the general public interest. I think, in taking the course that he is taking, he ought to give a more closely reasoned statement for his decision. He has sought to dismiss any suggestions for alternative arrangements rather lightly as just being not very practicable and not so convenient as the course that he has adopted. In a matter of such great importance convenience ought to be a minor consideration. We all recognise that his Department is very hard-worked and naturally tends to adopt the line of least resistance, but if he is going to justify the course that he has taken, he should give us a much more reasoned statement balancing the pros and cons than he has done. It seems to me that our proposal avoids the gravest error of the Schedule A scheme. It avoids levying contributions on the site value. Surely no one can justify, in principle, levying a contribution on the site value, which is not in any way a risk. I think that, if for reasons which I wish he will give us fully, my right hon Friend decides that it must be the Schedule A principle, at least some attempt should be made to apportion the Schedule A valuation between the value of the buildings and the value of the site and to levy a contribution only on the value of the building. If he were to do that, I think he would be able to put forward a very good reply to the Amendment. Unless he is prepared to do something of that kind I really feel that the Amendment stands unanswered.
§ Mr. Denman (Leeds, Central)
May I ask one elementary question? Is it clear that, if a property is not liable either to Schedule A or to rating assessment, it pays no contribution? The point arises in connection with schools
§ Sir K. Wood
I did not want to be discourteous to my hon. Friend, but I made a statement on the matter on the Second 857 Reading of the Bill, and so I think, did the Attorney-General in his reply, and I did not want to trespass on the Committee's time again. In fact, if I had to consult the convenience of the Treasury, it would have been far better to cast this tremendous burden upon the machinery suggested by my hon. Friend. As a matter of fact, having to adopt Schedule A has made us at the Treasury assume a most serious and responsible burden. It was not a question of lightly putting the matter on one side without due consideration. Purely from the point of view of convenience to the Treasury, the suggestion would have relieved us of a tremendous burden.
§ Sir J. Mellor
I listened carefully to my right hon. Friend's speech on the Second Reading and to the Attorney-General's reply and read and re-read them. After doing all that I still feel that the matter has been dismissed very lightly. I have listened with interest to what he has said about convenience, but I still think the Committee has not really been treated to a very seriously balanced argument, pro and con, on the question of the fire insurance and the Schedule A basis, especially on the point of levying contributions on site values, because that seems to me a glaring anomaly.
§ Sir Robert Tasker (Holborn)
The Chancellor has pointed out the difficulties, one of which is that property is sometimes over-insured and sometimes underinsured. The same argument might apply with regard to assessments. Another difficulty is that some properties are not insured at all. It would be easy to put a Clause in the Bill to make the owner declare the value of his property and that would have the same effect as the Amendment. I disagree with my hon. Friend who talks about the Government following the line of least resistance, because by adopting Schedule A they are taking on a mass of work which is now done by insurance companies. I would ask the Chancellor to consider whether the machinery set up by the insurance companies should not be made applicable. The general public should not be put to all this trouble and expense of setting up machinery to determine whether property is over- or under-valued.
§ Sir F. Sanderson
I would remind my hon. Friend that the onus of proving the value of property is on the owner, and, therefore, my right hon. Friend would have no difficulty in that respect.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir R. Tasker
I beg to move, in page 12, line 19, at the end, to insert:Provided that property subject before the third day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-nine, to the operation of an Order declaring an unhealthy area to be a Clearance Area, shall be excepted from the operation of this Section.When property is condemned under a slum clearance or similar order the income to the owner ceases, and the only value left to him is the site value. That means the value of the property divested of the building, so that the authority condemning the building prevents the owner obtaining rent from it. It is, therefore, inequitable to call upon the owner to contribute something in respect of property from which he enjoys no income owing to the action of the competent authority.
§ Major Milner
This is a matter of considerable importance in Leeds, as in other industrial areas, where property has been condemned or otherwise dealt with under various public health and housing Acts, and it is desirable that we should have from the Chancellor some statement of the position. I am aware of all the considerations that can be urged against granting any compensation in respect of these properties, but we are here to try and do substantial justice. Not all these properties belong to substantial people; there are quite small people, widows and others, who have an interest in property which is in the various stages of condemnation. Their interests have to be considered. On the other hand, if properties have been condemned the owners, whoever they may be, can only look forward, and in the majority of cases can only properly look forward, to site value. The property is usually old and a substantial income has been earned from it over a long period. At the moment, however, some of these properties may have to be occupied for a few years and some income will, therefore, be derived from them. What will be the position with regard to compensation for these properties? If no compensation is to be payable except for merely site value, it would be hardly equitable to require the 859 owners to pay the premiums when they are not to receive any benefit. I rise to inquire of the position which the Chancellor takes up in this matter rather than to urge any particular course, except that even in these cases, although I and my hon. Friends have strong feelings about the majority of them, we have to see that substantial justice is done to those who own this class of property as to those who own other classes.
§ Mr. Denman
I have an Amendment down dealing with this point, but it differs slightly from it in that it removes the date beyond which the exemption from contributions is not to be asked for. There is no reason for exempting a pre-war and not a post-war house that has been brought within an earlier order. I support an Amendment of this kind because I see no reasonable chance of these properties obtaining any compensation. A cost-of-works payment is surely out of the question. That payment is only possible if the repaired building roughly exceeds in value the cost of works. Here the repaired building is declared in advance statutorily to have no value. In that case how can there be a cost-of-works payment? The value payment provision is somewhat odd. The value payment being related to a date in March, 1939, the building would, if the demolition order were prior to that date, have no value. If the order were subsequent to it the building would have had a value since 31st March, 1939. We should, therefore, get the ridiculous position of identical houses in different areas receiving different treatment, some being entitled to value payment and others not, merely because of the date of the order. When the war is over the demolition of these houses by the local authorities will continue. Suppose in a couple of years' time a man's house is demolished, he will be required under the Bill to go on paying his contributions for another three years. I ask the Chancellor to consider the feelings of a man whose house has been taken from him and who has received negligible compensation in respect of it, but who is required to go on paying the contributions. I want to make a practical suggestion. This is a small point, but there is strong feeling about it in certain localities. It is an intricate matter also. I suggest that 860 between now and the Report stage the Chancellor should give it the attention which it really requires to provide a satisfactory solution, and that he should deal with it by taking power in a new Clause to issue Regulations on the subject. I believe he could well work out a scheme.
§ Mr. Silkin
I should like to point out that the mere making of an order by a local authority declaring an area to be an unhealthy area or a clearance area does not of itself mean that the property is going to be demolished. A great many things can happen after such an order has been made. In the first instance, there has to be an inquiry.
§ Mr. Denman
Is the hon. Member talking about my Amendment or the Amendment which has actually been moved?
§ Mr. Silkin
I was saying that a great many things can happen after an order has been made by a local authority. It does not in the least follow that when an order has been made in respect of any particular property that that property is really condemned.
§ Sir R. Tasker
Once the local authority has made the order it is condemned as far as the owner is concerned, and he loses all rents, so that he gets site value only, though the local authorities still continue to collect rents.
§ Mr. Silkin
The hon. Member is quite mistaken, and I can well understand his bringing forward this Amendment if he was under such an impression. The making of an order by a local authority merely means that it is regarded prima facie as an insanitary property, but that order has to be confirmed by the Ministry of Health, and as a general rule it is confirmed only after a public inquiry, at which the owner of the property has a right to make his case that it should not be condemned. Therefore, the mere making of an order by a local authority has no effect at all. The owner goes on collecting his rents.
§ Mr. Silkin
Yes, it is so. Having been chairman of a housing committee for seven years, and occupied in doing this 861 work daily, I can assure the hon. Member that that is the case. Therefore, it would be absurd to regard the mere making of an order by a local authority as determining whether a contribution should be made by the owner in respect of the property. It may turn out that the local authority did wrong in making it. I do not want to put forward other objections, and there are more serious objections than that, but on the case on which the Amendment has been moved it clearly cannot be accepted.
§ Sir K. Wood
The effect of the Amendment is to exempt from contribution property subject to the operations of a slum clearance order. We all have the greatest desire to see cleared away areas which are in a disgraceful condition, but them are considerations which have to be taken into account in connection with a Bill of this kind in time of war, when the ordinary provisions of the Housing Acts either cannot or are not being put into operation in all cases. There is no doubt that behind this Amendment lies the fear that small property will be required to pay contributions despite the fact that in view of its being scheduled for clearance it is not likely to attract any compensation in the event of being damaged. It is to be noted that no countervailing Amendment was moved to Clause 2 to ensure that compensation shall not be payable in respect of such property. Therefore, the net result achieved by this Amendment would be that such property would pay no contribution but would have a full right to compensation, and I could not possibly accept that position.
Looking at the Amendment from the point of view of the merits of the case and the policy which lies behind the Clause, and looking at it from the point of view of the war and the provisions we are making in this connection, the first thing we have to notice is that slum property which is in existence and is occupied at the present time is just as much likely to suffer war damage as any other property. As I have said, we should like to see slum clearance expedited, but in view of housing conditions in war we have to put up with a good many things which we should not tolerate in times of peace, and the fact remains that in many areas these slum properties are still occupied and have to serve such purposes as they can. Therefore, there will undoubtedly be 862 many cases in which a property described as a slum will suffer damage which will have to be repaired, unfortunate as it is, for the purpose of providing accommodation for the people who unhappily have to live there, because there is nothing else which can be done in the circumstances. Therefore it is untrue to say that there is no value to be received by slum property in respect of this Measure, because in the circumstances which I have described there will be a number of cases in which cost - of - works payments will arise. Although we may not like to have to do it, having regard to all the circumstances the property will have to be repaired in the interests of the people who want to go on living there.
If we then take into account the other principle of the Bill, which is that all property owners must stand-in together, I think the Committee will agree that the slum landlord must not be allowed to contract out of his obligations merely because he thinks he is unlikely to receive much compensation. So far as he is concerned, this is the other side of the picture: undoubtedly the contributions he will have to pay in respect of the property will be small. My own view is that we have to consider this matter on the practical basis from the point of view of war damage. Therefore the landlord of this property must come in and pay for any expense, which will be limited. On the other hand, he will be entitled, in certain circumstances where it is necessary, to receive a cost-of-works payment, in order to maintain the property. That is the main consideration which I have in mind in connection with these proposals of the Bill.
§ Sir R. Tasker
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not really answered the argument. I was pointing out that the property owner will be without any income, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer is saying to this unfortunate owner, who is in receipt of nothing at all, "You shall contribute." You cannot order a man to contribute when he has no income at all.
§ Sir H. Williams
My name is attached to this Amendment. I thought I should not be here when it was reached, so I asked my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn (Sir R. Tasker) to move it on my behalf. I am not convinced by what the 863 Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us, and I ask him to look at this matter again. I am not the owner of slum property but I imagine that some of my constituents may be, so let us consider the matter for a moment. A man who owns property of this kind ought to go down on his bended knees every night and pray, "Please, Mr. Hitler, bomb my house," because the moment it is bombed his contribution ceases. Although there may be a certain amount for him in the shape of a cost of works payment, it is primarily not in the interest of the landlord but of the tenant. You are asking a man who has no financial interest, except in complete destruction, and who cannot get a thing if the House is damaged, to make a contribution. If I were the owner of slum property I would get all my tenants out and I would blow it up. It would pay me to destroy it in any kind of way. The Chancellor is asking a man to pay something in respect of property from which he gets no advantage whatever.
It is no use using the analogy about those who are in what are called safer areas. The only declaration of interest I can make in this matter is that I have a bill of £11 12s. against the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the War Damage Department, in respect of the tiles and windows of a small house which I had on the coast, and to which we evacuated an enormous number of children in the old days. In London, where I suffered damage both in my office and in my flat, somebody else has to make it good. A person who cannot get any compensation should not be called upon, whatever the circumstances, to make a contribution.
§ Mr. Benson
There are two or three points which stand out very clearly in this matter. One is that the cost of works payments will be very much higher in the case of slum property than in the case of well-built property. The amount of damage done to old slum property will be enormous. It will be damage like roofs being ripped off, and not merely windows broken, but window frames blown in. The cost of repair will be very high. The average cost of works payment will be very much higher than the contribution paid by the slum owner. I do not think there is any very grave danger that the owner will pay after his property has been pulled down by the corporation because, 864 after the war is over and at least for five years, we shall not be in a position to pull down houses. Our main job will be to provide new houses to replace those which have been destroyed. There will be very little actual demolition. Taking it by and large, the case for making a contributory payment in respect of clearance order cases, will be overwhelming.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Brigadier - General Clifton Brown (Newbury)
I beg to move, in page 12, line 31, at the end, to insert:Provided that in the case of either of such properties the contributory value shall be reduced by an amount equal to so much of any annuity in respect of the redemption of tithe rent-charge payable in respect of the property under Section four of the Tithe Act, 1918, as consists of interest.This is a small matter which I have put down in order to get it some consideration. The Schedule A assessment is fair, on the whole, but I do not think it quite represents the value of the property in the case to which I am referring. There is a certain amount of voluntary tithe redemption, paid under the Tithe Act, and it seems to us that it should be deducted from the Schedule A assessment, which does not usually allow for it. It may be done privately, but where the payment is made under an Act of this House the charge should be deducted from the Schedule A assessment, so as to make that assessment not too much. I wish to bring this matter to the notice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I hope that he will look into it.
§ The Attorney-General
The Schedule A assessment is arrived at after the deduction of the interest portion of the tithe redemption annuity. When I first saw this Amendment, I thought that my hon. and gallant Friend had probably overlooked that fact, but from what I understood him to say just now he may not have had in mind the ordinary annuity. He referred to payments which are a voluntary charge, outside the Act. The point is quite clearly raised by the Amendment. If my hon. and gallant Friend will give us the details, we shall certainly look into the matter. It may be difficult, in practice, to make provision in this scheme for voluntary arrangements of that kind, but if he will give us particulars of the class of case he has in mind, I undertake, without giving any pledge, to look into the matter.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir K. Wood
I beg to move, in page 12, line 39, at the end, to insert:() Where, apart from the provisions of this Sub-section, the contributory value of any contributory property would, under either paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of the last preceding Sub-section, be computed by reference to an amount corresponding to the value of the property for any period less than a full year, it shall be computed as if the said amount were increased so as to bear to the actual amount thereof the same proportion as a full year bears to the said period.In some parts of the country, and particularly in Scotland, where property is brought into the Schedule for the first time in the middle of a year, the assessment is written down proportionately. The Amendment, therefore, is necessary, because contribution will be levied on the full contributory value, however short the time during the risk period when the full value was in force.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In page 13, line 1. leave out "structures," and insert "works."—[Sir K. Wood.]
§ Sir H. Williams
I beg to move, in page 13, line 8, at the end, to insert:(4) A property which consists of a structure or work used exclusively as an advertising station for poster advertising shall not be Seemed to be a contributory property for the purposes of this Part of this Act but shall be deemed to be goods to be included in a business scheme under Part II of this Act.I have put down this Amendment following a conversation which I had with an old friend of mine who was one of my leading supporters when I was Member of Parliament for Reading. He was a large billposter. This is a curious situation. A hoarding is put up facing a busy street. The owner of the hoarding will pay to the owner of the land an annual rental, and the owner of the land will pay Schedule A tax on a piece of land on which the hoarding is erected. Then the hoarding itself creates a new form of property, which arises, not on its cost, but on the fact that a lot of people walk past, so that the real object which is being taxed under Schedule A is not the hoarding, but the people who are walking past and who may ultimately buy somebody's toothpaste. I am told that in some cases a hoarding the capital value of which is 866 £20 may have an annual value under schedule A of £100, in which case the owners would be subject to a premium of £10 a year in respect of something the capital value of which was £20. If a bomb fell, the chances are that damage would amount to less than £5, so that they would get nothing, and yet they are being called upon to pay a premium which is totally out of proportion to any kind of benefit which they can get. I cannot think of any comparable situation. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about a kiosk?"] A kiosk is the same sort of thing. The main income of a kiosk is derived from what is advertised on the outside and not from what is sold inside. A kiosk would probably come under this Amendment.
I think this should be treated not as property at all, but as the machinery of business. Therefore, my Amendment proposes to transfer it from Part I to Part II, in which case it would be dealt with on an equitable basis. I have gathered from a number of conversations which I have had with hon. and right hon. Members that the billposting community have been busy and have communicated with a large number of hon. Members, explaining that the situation in which they are placed has been made more serious, because I imagine that as a result of the shortage of paper every billposter in this country is running at a loss. At a time when they are running at a loss, to impose a charge which in relation to their turnover would be a heavy charge indeed would be greatly unfair, and, as we shall have an election after the war, we shall want our pictures put on the hoardings.
§ Sir Robert Bird (Wolverhampton, West)
I support this Amendment, and I will put briefly one point which the Mover did not make in his observations. A bill-posting business consists of a central office with warehouse or store attached, and it is assessed under Schedule A just as any other business premises, but bill-posting premises consist of very much more than that. In the case of large undertakings in the big cities the stations may run into many hundreds. Each and every one of those, as has already been pointed out, is assessed under Schedule A, with the result that the aggregate of those assessments plus the assessment on the central office—the ordinary business assessment— 867 amounts to a very heavy charge indeed. To-day there is very little b[...]l-posting, and it consists solely of old stock. Paper is neither procurable, nor would it be permitted, and the situation is that these businesses, which in normal times when they are prosperous bear an extremely heavy charge in respect of rates, to-day for the purposes of this Bill will have to bear charges in the form of contributions which are altogether out of relation to any damage which the hoardings may suffer from enemy action; I do not speak of central premises. I think that the Chancellor, if he cannot accept the Amendment in this form, should give very serious consideration to see that the principle of justice and equity which he has so often underlined should be observed in relation to this business.
§ Mr. Benson
I think this Amendment is perfectly reasonable, for this reason, that under this Bill the Chancellor intends to tax hoardings doubly. There is the landlord on whose property the hoardings are erected, and he will have to pay his contribution under his Schedule A assessment of the hoardings. Then apparently the bill-poster, who is also assessed under Schedule A, will for the same hoarding pay another but greatly enhanced contribution. As a matter of fact, although the bill-poster, who is the tenant of the site, pays under Schedule A, really his payment ought to be a Schedule D payment. His business of bill-poster is a trade or profession. Although for technical purposes—heaven knows why—he is assessed under Schedule A, the real tax is an Income Tax on a trade or profession, which does not come under this Bill. For those reasons, first of all, because there will be a double taxation, and also because the bill-poster's Schedule A assessment is purely technical, I support this Amendment.
§ Sir K. Wood
I think my hon. Friends have made out a case for consideration of this proposal. I do not commit myself to the actual form which has been proposed by my hon. Friends, but obviously this is a unique case, and I will look into the matter between now and the Report stage, and I will confer with any of my hon. Friends who are interested in the matter to see whether we can find a satisfactory solution.
§ Sir H. Williams
In view of the satisfactory assurance of the Chancellor, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Attorney-General
I beg to move, in page 13, line 13, at the end, to add:and for the purposes of this Part of this Act—These Amendments are designed to meet the case of new buildings, in regard to which it is possible that assessments might not be made until after 1st July, at the end of the contributory period, but which would at the same time relate back to 1st January when the buildings were completed. It is, therefore, proposed to insert these words in the Bill to make it clear that both the assessment and the valuation shall be treated as having been in force during the period for which they have effect.
- (a) an assessment under Schedule A shall be treated as having been in force during the period as respects which it has effect; and
- (b) a valuation shown in a valuation list shall be treated as having been shown in the list during the period as respects which the valuation has effect."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Silkin
What is the position of a property which is under construction and is incomplete. It is not assessed under Schedule A and is not included in any valuation and it therefore pays no contribution. Is such a property to rank for payment, because, if so, it seems unfair that it should not be subject to a contribution?
§ Mr. Snadden (Perth and Kinross, Western)
I should like to ask whether the deduction of tithes in England will be a deduction from the gross rental? In Scotland the tithe is not, as it stands, a deduction. Will the method of arriving at the next Schedule A assessment be the same for both countries?
§ The Attorney-General
My hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) is quite right. It is an anomaly; uncompleted buildings will rank for compensation, but there will be no contribution. The reason, of course, is a practical one. To introduce special machinery for getting contributions from buildings in the course 869 of erection would be to complicate the task of the administration which will already have quite enough problems to face.
Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.