HC Deb 24 March 1959 vol 602 cc1237-9
Mr. Bevins

I beg to move, in page 32, line 31, to leave out "one hundred pounds" and to insert "the relevant limit".

If you agree, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I think that it will be convenient to take the next three Amendments, in lines 41 and 46, and in page 33, line 8, with the Amendment that I have just moved.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker indicated assent.

Mr. Bevins

When the application of capital moneys on the sale of land was considered in Committee my right hon. Friend expressed the view that the proper financial principle which ought to be reflected in the Bill was that the proceeds of money derived from the sale of land should be applied in a way which was consistent with the permanent character of the assets which they replaced. He accordingly argued that it would he wrong in principle for capital moneys which stood in the place of long-term assets, such as the ownership of land, to he applied to very short-term purposes. At the same time, there was a feeling among hon. Members on both sides of the Committee that the provisions then embodied in the Bill were perhaps slightly grandmotherly, and too restrictive in their impact upon local authorities.

The effect of the Amendments can be described briefly. First, the period which determines whether a loan has a sufficiently long period outstanding to qualify as a purpose to which capital money may properly be applied is to he reduced from twenty years to fifteen years. The other relaxations to which we are proposing to give effect are, first, to delete the present limit for the de minimus provision for £100 and to substitute the relevant limit which is now defined in a new subsection (3). The limit for counties, county boroughs or the City of London is raised to £1,000, and in the case of all those authorities the product of 1d. rate would well exceed that sum.

For county district councils or the Council of the Isles of Scilly, the limit is to be £1,000 or the product of 1d. rate, whichever is the less, and for any other local authority, as defined in the Fourth Schedule—which includes such bodies as statutory water undertakings, joint boards, and so forth—the relevant limit is to be £500. This is a compromise figure. The product of 1d. rate would not be appropriate for most of these bodies but, on the other hand, £1,000 might he too high. In drafting the Amendments my right hon. Friend has tried to meet the sense of the criticisms expressed both by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield) and the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison).

Mr. Mitchison

As the hon. Member has said, the previous arrangements were rather grandmotherly. Although granny, in recognition of the spring, is a little more frisky, she is still a very staid old lady. The Amendments do not go very far. In Committee, we suggested that in this matter the Scots have a far greater freedom than the English, and that there was no reason why granny should look after the English in this assiduous way while allowing the Scots to run free. That argument did not appeal to the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend. They have one firm principle, which is never to accept any suggestion of substance made by the Opposition. We get little bits of chicken feed from time to time, but that is all.

We have argued this point in Committee, and the hon. Gentleman has frankly said that this is a compromise suggestion. He has come some of the way. I do not suppose he can tell us without reference what the product of a 1d. rate in the County of Rutland is, but it would be quite interesting to know.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 32, line 41, leave out "twenty" and insert "fifteen".

In line 46, leave out "twenty" and insert "fifteen".

In page 33, line 8, at end insert: (3) For the purposes of paragraph (a) of the last preceding subsection, the relevant limit shall be ascertained as follows, that is to say—

  1. (a) in the case of capital money received by the council of a county, county borough or metropolitan borough, or by the Common Council of the City of London, the relevant limit shall be the sum of one thousand pounds;
  2. (b) in the case of capital money received by the council of a county district, or by the Council of the Isles of Scilly, the relevant limit shall be whichever is the lesser of the two following amounts, that is to say, the sum of one thousand pounds, and the amount estimated for the purposes of subsection (2) of section nine of the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, to be the product, for the financial year in which the capital money is to be applied, of a rate of one penny in the pound for the rating area consisting of that county district, or of the Isles of Scilly, as the case may be;
  3. (c) in the case of capital money received by any other authority to whom this Part of this Act applies, the relevant limit shall be the sum of five hundred pounds.—[Mr. H. Brooke.]