HC Deb 26 April 1966 vol 727 cc522-3
26. Mr. Roebuck

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will introduce legislation to end the anomaly under which public schools owned by corporate bodies and registered as charities are entitled to a 50 per cent. reduction in rates.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Richard Crossman)

No, Sir. I have some sympathy with the suggestion, but I feel that attempts to separate one sort of charity from others might lead to great difficulties.

Mr. Roebuck

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his attitude is contrary to that which was adopted by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary when the Rating and Valuation Act was before the House in 1961? Is he further aware that when the hard-pressed ratepayers in my constituency think of a charity their thoughts do not automatically fly to Harrow School?

Mr. Crossman

Yes, Sir; I am aware of this. I must admit that when I looked at the Oxford and Cambridge colleges I came to a different conclusion, but there were so many of them in the middle of such small cities, and public schools are so peppered over the community, that I think we should leave them as they are.

Mr. Rippon

Instead of giving sympathy to proposals for further increases in rates, will the right hon. Gentleman say when the Government propose to introduce legislation to reduce the total burden of rates, which has risen by an unprecedented amount under the Labour Government?

Mr. Crossman

I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his return to the House and to the Opposition Front Bench, and on the tone of his first question addressed to me. The answer is: yes, we shall have our second major rating Measure before the House before an undue delay has occurred.

Forward to