HC Deb 09 June 1964 vol 696 cc229-30
26. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what reports he has received to date about the working of the Rating (Interim Relief) Act, 1964.

Sir K. Joseph

I have received very few complaints.

Mr. Lipton

Has the right hon. Gentleman not yet heard that this Act is regarded as a cruel hoax by thousands of over-burdened, harassed and indignant ratepayers, who derive little or no benefit from it? Has not it proved to be just another bit of pre-election window dressing, which, unfortunately, has gone awry because the General Election was postponed until long after the Act came into effect?

Sir K. Joseph

No, Sir. I have no such evidence, but if the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to send me the evidence that he clearly has of people disappointed by the working of the Act I shall, of course, study it carefully.

Sir J. Eden

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he has information to in- dicate the way in which local authorities have been able to work the provisions of this Act so as to bring the relief provided for in the Act to those who need this form of assistance? Can my right hon. Friend indicate that they have found no difficulty at all in operating this Measure?

Sir K. Joseph

I have had evidence of a number of schemes which are working well. I have also had evidence of two or three areas which are not operating the Act, and I am in touch with them.

Mr. Barnett

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one local authority is operating the Act in such a way that an individual qualifies for relief if he is in receipt of a pension, but does not qualify for it if he is living on the proceeds of savings accumulated during his working life? Does not the Minister feel that that is an unfair way of operating the Act?

Sir K. Joseph

I am chary of commenting on the methods of local authorities, since Parliament left it to them to decide how to work the Act. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman can discuss any comments that he has with the rating authority concerned.