HC Deb 16 November 1948 vol 458 cc187-8
20. Mr. Digby

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he is aware that district valuers have been asked to assess the development charge on any improvements to agricultural cottages, carried out under the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, for record purposes only, since such cottages are exempt from development charge; and whether, having regard to the fact that this delays the carrying out of the work and to the waste of time involved, he will give instructions that development charge need not be assessed at present in cases where buildings are exempt.

Mr. Silkin

Agricultural cottages are not in law exempt from development charge, but where a subsidy is payable under the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1946, the charge is not collected while the cottage is reserved for members of the agricultural population. If the cottage ceases to be so reserved the charge becomes payable. It is for this reason, and not for record purposes, that the charge has to be assessed.

Mr. Digby

Would it not be much more sensible to save the manpower involved, by making assessments only when a charge is actually payable? In actual fact in present circumstances, in a large number of cases it may never be payable at all.

Mr. Silkin

One has to safeguard the position, which, unfortunately, is only too common, that these cottages are acquired by persons for week-end occupation.

Mr. Charles Williams

What happens when a cottage is occupied by a retired agricultural labourer?

Mr. Silkin

That is a legal question, of which I must have notice.