HC Deb 20 July 1944 vol 402 cc339-40
29. Sir George Jones

asked the Minister of Health whether he will take steps to ensure that a rated occupier of a house rendered uninhabitable through enemy action shall not continue legally liable to pay the rates on the said house during such uninhabitability merely on the ground that his furniture has not been removed from the said house.

Mr. Willink

The legal liability to the payment of rates can be altered only by amending legislation, for which, as at present advised, I do not think I should be justified in asking the House. In November, 1940, a Circular, of which I am sending my hon. and learned Friend a copy, was issued from the Ministry of Health with a view to meeting the circumstances then arising from enemy action, in London and elsewhere, and I see no reason to doubt that rating authorities will be able and willing similarly to meet the needs of the present situation.

Mr. Edmund Harvey

Could not the right hon. and learned Gentleman make provision under Defence Regulations, as this involves great hardship?

Mr. Willink

No, Sir. I am advised not with regard to legal liability for rates. But I will send my hon. Friend also the Circular to which I have referred.

Sir G. Jones

Will the Minister tell the rating authorities that they ought not to enforce payment of rates when the people cannot move their furniture owing to lack of facilities for transport and storage?

Mr. Willink

Perhaps my hon. and learned Friend will consider the terms of the Circular that was issued and discuss the matter with me if he considers it necessary.

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