HC Deb 07 December 1954 vol 535 cc760-3
25. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many protests he has received against the Valuation for Rating Act, 1953, in so far as this affects rating of shops and offices; how many letters he has received from residents of West Ham on this subject; and what action he proposes to take to revise the provisions of this Act so far as it affects offices and shops.

28. Mr. Burke

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware that the method of assessment under the Valuation for Rating Act, 1953, has been condemned by the members of the National Chamber of Trade and by occupiers of shops and offices generally as it places upon this section of the community an unfair portion of the rate burden as compared with other sections; and if he will therefore give further consideration to this matter.

35. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many protests he has received from Cardiff concerning the Valuation for Rating Act, 1953; and what reply he has sent.

36. Mr. P. Morris

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what reply he has sent to the national and local chambers of trade who asked for a revision of the provisions of the Valuation for Rating Act, 1953, relating to offices, shops and business premises.

37 and 38. Mr. Turner-Samuels

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) if he will introduce an amendment to the existing law abolishing derating on industrial hereditaments;

(2) whether he will take steps to amend the Valuation for Rating Act, 1953, so as to abolish the present differentiation for rating purposes as regards shop and office properties, and houses, which exists under the said Act, and provide for a common basis for valuation for all types of property.

40. Mr. Proctor

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he has given consideration to the number of appeals made to him to amend the basis upon which shops and business premises are valued for rating purposes; and if he will make a statement.

52. Dr. King

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether, in view of the dissatisfaction among those with offices and shops about the uneven incidence of rating, he will introduce a measure to abolish or modify the derating of industry and agriculture.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

I would refer hon. Members to the replies given yesterday to my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, West (Mr. Assheton) and to the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton).

Mr. Lewis

I saw that reply in HANSARD today, and my Question was, of course, put down before that written reply. If, as may well be the case, the interested parties are dissatisfied with that reply, would the Minister be prepared to look at the whole question and, if need be, meet deputations not only from the National Chamber of Trade but from other organisations interested in this question? May I have an answer, please?

Mr. Speaker

Mr. George Thomas.

Mr. Lewis

On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker

No point of order can arise. The hon. Gentleman will no doubt receive an answer if he is patient.

Mr. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that the written reply yesterday has nothing at all to do with Question No. 35, that there is considerable feeling in Cardiff about this question, and may I have some answer which I can give to my constituents?

Mr. Sandys

On the question of the number of protests from Cardiff, I think the answer that I gave yesterday was that so far there are some 40,000 letters on this subject; but my copious mail is not classified geographically, so I am not able to give the hon. Member or the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) details for their particular areas. I said in my long reply in answer to a written Question—the reply was obviously too long to be given in answer to an oral Question—that, on the general position, I was prepared to give an assurance that as soon as the effects of the forthcoming revaluation can be fully measured the Government will review the position and consider whether any changes are necessary.

Mr. Proctor

Does the Minister realise that this is definitely unfair to shopkeepers, considering that industrialists are now getting out of it by derating? Will he do something quickly, instead of waiting for the iniquity to be perpetrated?

Mr. Sandys

There are a great number of uncertain factors in the whole business, and we cannot yet be sure how the new revaluation will work out in practice. I am reluctant to take any steps which will postpone yet again this process of revaluation, because the present system undoubtedly has many anomalies and creates many injustices quite as great as many of those about which fears are expressed in the present correspondence.

Mr. Burke

How long will it be before the right hon. Gentleman can go into the matter again? It is causing very great hardship to certain sections of the community.

Mr. Sandys

No hardship is being caused now, quite clearly.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

Ought not the Minister to be a little more forthcoming? Is not the position that valuations for rating of houses and of business and shop premises differ in their bases and incidence? Does the Minister not agree that it would be proper to find some common basis for valuation as between these types of property?

Mr. Sandys

That is the whole point.

Mr. G. Wilson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a number of traders who sent stereotyped complaints expressed complete satisfaction when the point was explained to them?