HC Deb 01 November 1966 vol 735 cc219-20
19. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will shortly introduce legislation to amend the Rating Act, 1966.

Mr. Greenwood

No, Sir.

Mr. Digby

Is it not becoming increasingly evident that the disregards are a quite inaccurate forecast of the position? I ask the Minister not to be stubborn about this and to look at the facts as they are?

Mr. Greenwood

I do not think it is a question of being stubborn. The House debated this at considerable length. All of us have great sympathy for the class of people for whom the hon. Gentleman is primarily concerned, but the House expressed its opinion only this year. It is much too early to talk about amending legislation.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the Minister aware of the great welcome there has been in the country for the very large number of cases throughout the country who have gained benefit from this Act, unlike its predecessor, where hardly anybody got any benefit at all?

Mr. Greenwood

I appreciate what my hon. Friend has said. The purpose of the Act was to reduce the impact of rates on people on low incomes from any source at all, and it compares very favourably, as my hon. Friend said, with the proposals put forward by hon. Members opposite. The amount disbursed so far is about 40 times what it was under the previous Tory Government.

Mr. Ridsdale

Would the Minister stop being complacent, particularly with regard to disabled people? Does the Minister realise that the Act at the present moment is causing grave hardship to people who fought in the First World War and who have to have a dependant living with them? Would he look into this and see if he can do something about it?

Mr. Greenwood

I do not think that anything I have said indicates complacency. If there was complacency, it was on the part of the previous Government.