HC Deb 10 April 1956 vol 551 cc22-3
40. Mr. Marlowe

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether, having regard to the fact that the new rating assessments have been completed and that most of the local authorities have fixed their rate poundage for the ensuing year, he will now implement his undertaking to review the position in view of the hardship caused to shopkeepers.

43. Mr. Viant

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether, in view of the increased assessment of properties for rating purposes, he will issue an order permitting the statutory allowance for repairs to be increased accordingly.

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

There will be no avoidable delay in reviewing the effects of revaluation in all its aspects.

Mr. Marlowe

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it has now transpired that this arrangement is throwing a disproportionate burden on the shopkeepers, many of whom may even be driven out of business? Will he postpone the operation of the Socialist Act of 1948 until the whole of local government finance can be properly reviewed, so that every party bears a fair burden and not an unfair one?

Mr. Sandys

I have a great deal of understanding of the point of view of the shopkeepers. [An HON. MEMBER: "But no sympathy."] I thought that perhaps they would not welcome sympathy, but I have sympathy also. I must point out, however, that any wholesale and indiscriminate lodging of appeals such as is being urged upon them at the present time will inevitably postpone the time when a reliable appraisal of the position can be made.

Mr. Mitchison

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that to rerate industry would appeal to their sense of justice?

Mr. Sandys

That is a rather wider issue and, as I have already explained to the House on a number of occasions, that is one of the matters being examined as part of a comprehensive review of local government finance.

Mr. Marlowe

While I agree with what my right hon. Friend says about the irresponsible lodging of appeals, does he not appreciate that if he postponed the operation of the Act that would obviate the need for any appeals?