HC Deb 11 November 1980 vol 992 cc282-3

Lords Amendment: No. 25 in page 26, line 34, leave out "dwelling-house" and insert "domestic"

Mr. Fox

I beg to move, that this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, we may take amendments Nos. 26, 27 and 28.

Mr. Fox

The purpose of these amendments is to extend the provisions of clause 26, which amends section 48 of the General Rate Act 1967 to include certain garages and private storage premises that are free standing and form a separate hereditament. These amendments provide that domestic relief be applied at full rate to such premises. Under existing legislation domestic relief does not extend to garages or storage premises unless they form part of a hereditament which is a dwelling-house or mixed hereditament. The absense of relief for free standing garages and private storage premises gives rise to anomalies, and it is a significant source of complaint by domestic ratepayers. It is particularly unfair to flat dwellers as a class of householders.

The matter was brought to the Government's attention when the Bill was discussed in Committee. On that occasion I promised that the Government would consider the matter. These amendments were introduced as a result of that consideration.

Mr. Ronald W. Brown

Does this amendment in any way assist people who rent a garage away from their own home, and who are charged rates on that garage? Water rates are also levied, even though there is no water, and no sewerage facilities. Will this amendment mean that the Thames water authority, in the case of my constituency, will not be able to rate that empty garage that has no water supplies?

Mr. Fox

This amendment helps with regard to rates, but not with regard to water.

7.30 pm
Mr. Oakes

What the Minister has said left a query in my mind. I regret the fact that the good Anglo-Saxon word "dwelling-house" has been replaced in the clause by "domestic hereditament". I could have understood the Minister allowing domestic relief on a garage that was within the curtilage of a dwelling-house, or on a garage that was separated, as in the case of a flat dweller, from the actual dwelling-house, but it seems to me—I hope that I am wrong—that, under the clause as it stands, it will be open to someone who owns free-standing garages which he lets to other tenants to claim domestic relief. I can see nothing to stop him from doing that, so I should be grateful if the Minister would answer that point before we all leave the Chamber and return to our domestic hereditaments.

Mr. Fox

I do not think that the relief that we envisage should produce such a spirit of capitalism in the right hon. Gentleman. I was thinking that he might rush out and buy a few garages as an investment. I shall look carefully at what he has said. If that sort of abuse could develop it would be a matter of concern to us, but as I understand the position, it would not apply in the case that he has instanced.

Question put and agreed to. [Special Entry]

Lords amendments Nos. 26 to 28 agreed to. [Special Entry]

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