HC Deb 24 March 1953 vol 513 cc622-4
4. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether, in order to provide additional sources of revenue for local authorities, he will introduce legislation for the abolition of the derating of industry and agriculture.

Mr. H. Macmillan

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) on 17th March.

Mr. Fletcher

Is the Minister aware that since then rates have gone up all over the country, and it is essential to provide local authorities with additional sources of revenue? Will he not agree that the conditions which may have justified the derating of industry in 1929 are no longer applicable?

Mr. Macmillan

This is a very large issue, and I hardly think that the hon. Member would expect me to deal with it in Question and answer.

Mr. Sparks

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the case no longer exists for relieving prosperous industrial enterprises of 75 per cent. of their rates whilst ordinary householders, traders and small shopkeepers have to pay 100 per cent.? As a result of derating legislation rates have risen substantially in many areas. Will the hon. Gentleman look into the matter again?

Mr. Macmillan

I think the House would agree with me that I could hardly be expected to deal with such an issue by Question and answer.

7. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what representations he has received from local authorities during recent months in favour of the continued derating of industrial property.

Mr. H. Macmillan

None, Sir.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Minister aware that all the responsible associations of local authorities are unanimously in favour of the ending of the arrangement at the earliest possible moment, and is the Minister going to ignore that point of view and stand idly by while the whole structure of local government virtually collapses?

Mr. Macmillan

No, Sir, the hon. and gallant Gentleman has been guilty of false logic. People do not usually petition for the maintenance of the status quo.

Mr. Gibson

In view of the now admitted need for additional finance for local authorities, and the fact that the circumstances which led to the introduction of the original derating Act no longer exist and have not existed for many years, will the Minister give early consideration to getting rid of this particular infliction on local authorities?

Mr. Macmillan

As I say, this is a large issue. The House must not forget the large grants made in lieu of derating which would have to be reconsidered in the event.

Mr. Mellish

Is the Minister aware that there is a special problem facing some of the smaller boroughs in London, where the income from a Id. rate is infinitesimal. The derating Act affects them in a vicious manner and they are finding themselves in an impossible position. Will he please look at this matter again?