HC Deb 19 February 1964 vol 689 cc1317-8

9.30 p.m.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Sir Keith Joseph)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 6, after the second "year" to insert: not being later than the year 1967–68". Would it be convenient, Mr. Speaker, for the House to take at the same time the third Amendment on the Notice Paper, in Clause 2, page 2, line 8, after "1964", insert: and ending not later than 31st March, 1968".

Mr. Speaker

If the House so pleases, yes.

Sir K. Joseph

These two Amendments are put down in compliance with an undertaking given in Committee to the effect that, since the Bill is, as its Title clearly shows, an interim Measure, it would make sense to introduce a terminal date. In Committee, the proposal was that the terminal date should be 1969, but, as the next revaluation is due in 1968, the Government have thought it right that the terminal date should coincide with the next revaluation and come in 1968.

This should give sufficient time for both the Allen Committee's report and the survey now being undertaken by the Government of the allocation of rising local authority expenditure between local and central taxation to be digested and for the necessary provisions to be embodied in the necessary Government legislation. The two Amendments to Clauses 1 and 2 embody the terminal date in 1968.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

We on this side are glad to accept the Amendments. Although one of my hon. Friends urged in Committee that there should be a terminal date, we felt that there were many unsatisfactory principles embodied in the Bill as a whole and that it was not desirable that it should be, or should be regarded as, permanent legislation. The one anxiety was this. The Bill gives certain reliefs where they will be very badly needed, and one wonders, naturally, whether it would be wise to put in a terminal date.

However it seems perfectly clear that, when the Bill approaches its terminal date, any Government will feel obliged to make, it good time, some rearrangement of local government finance which will genuinely make this interim Measure unnecessary. It will be a matter of importance for whoever is charged with the task of government between now and the time when the Bill expires to see that it is replaced in good time by satisfactory arrangements for local government finance.

Amendment agreed to.