HC Deb 24 June 1954 vol 529 cc573-4
22. Mr. Deer

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the inequalities of drainage rates; and, in view of the representations on the subject, if he will set up an inquiry with a view to the introduction of legislation to remedy this.

Sir T. Dugdale

Under the Land Drainage Act, 1930, drainage rates are based on the gross annual value for purposes of Schedule A of the Income Tax Acts. The correction of any inequalities in Schedule A assessments must await the re-valuation of these assessments.

Mr. Deer

Is the Minister aware that, in the present circumstances, the very poorest people are being most hardly hit? I have letters from old-age pensioners and from people living in low-situated houses which are subject to the drainage rate while those living a little higher up are getting away scot-free with nothing being done about it.

Sir T. Dugdale

I answered the Question on the Order Paper. The trouble is that a revaluation is unlikely to take place on practical grounds before the revaluation for general rating purposes is complete, which will not be before 1956.

Mr. T. Williams

Can I ask the right hon. Gentleman when it is likely that the Government will do something about the recommendations of the Heneage Committee, which reported about three years ago?

Sir T. Dugdale

So far as this system is concerned the Heneage Committee—and more recently the Waverley Committee—have advised in favour of present arrangements.

Mr. Williams

Is the Minister aware that the problem referred to by the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Deer) will not be dealt with by any recommendation of the Committee to which he himself refers?

Sir T. Dugdale

I have given my answer, and any more detailed questions on this subject must be answered by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Moody

Is the Minister aware that many thousands of people in Hull are paying the drainage rate to a canal authority, but the responsibility of the drainage upkeep has already been taken over by Hull Corporation? The people regard it as a swindle. Could the Minister do something about it?