§ 4 and 5. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) whether he will now introduce legislation by which agricultural land, which is now exempt from taxation, will pay its normal quota of local rates which at present have to be borne by the rest of the community to the extent of over £20 million per annum;
(2) whether he will now introduce legislation by which industrial premises will pay their full amount of rates in place of the 25 per cent. as at present as a result of which over £40 million per annum has now to be borne in rates by the rest of the community.
§ Mr. Freeman
In view of the fact that old-age pensioners, blind people, cripples, and people in receipt of pensions of one kind or another, have to pay their full rates, and even have to bear an extra burden in this regard, does not the Minister think that the time has come to relieve these older people of such heavy responsibilities which should be borne by the farming community and the big industrialists, who are in a position to pay their share?
§ Mr. Sandys
The hon. Member's Questions raise very large and wide issues of national policy which it would be inappropriate for me to attempt to answer in replying to supplementary questions.
§ Mr. Godber
Would not the Minister agree that to do as the hon. Member for Newport (Mr.Peter Freeman) requests would be to put up the prices of food to those very people for whom he is pleading? It would undoubtedly result in an increase. Would not the Minister further 137 agree that when agricultural derating took place all local authorities received a block grant fully recompensing them, and that, therefore, they would be no better off were rating reimposed?
§ Mr. Freeman
In view of the fact that the farming industry probably receives more by way of subsidies, allowances, grants and guaranteed prices than any other industry, and yet has not succeeded so far in reducing the price of food, would the Minister give similar subsidies to all the other trades and industries?