HC Deb 04 June 1996 vol 278 cc394-5
11. Mr. Barnes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the application of the council tax to mobile homes. [29782]

Sir Paul Beresford

A mobile home that is someone's sole or main residence and that is stationed with a degree of permanence will, with its pitch, constitute a dwelling, chargeable for council tax.

Mr. Barnes

Did the Minister see Chatsworth house in Derbyshire on the telly last night? It is rather larger than a mobile home owned by one of my constituents, which is worth £3,000 on the open market. Is it reasonable that the Duke of Devonshire, the owner, for some reason, of Chatsworth house, should pay only three times as much council tax as someone in a mobile home? Should there not be a much wider distinction between the two so that there is greater range and a greater number of bands is considered?

Sir Paul Beresford

If in fact that is correct, I would be suspicious about the valuation because, of course, it is not the variety of property, but the capital value of the property, that counts.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes

Does my hon. Friend agree that what lies behind the slightly bizarre supplementary question to him is that the Labour party wants to escalate the amount of council tax paid in the range referred to in the question? The question that arises in our minds, therefore, is what does Labour have in mind for people living in semi-detached and detached houses in my constituency. Is not the answer to that large bills—as has been let out of the bag today?

Sir Paul Beresford

My hon. Friend has touched on just one aspect of the escalating burden on the taxpayer at every level that Labour would place on people, if it ever had the power to do so.

Mrs. Helen Jackson

I wonder whether the Minister would like to try again? Is he really suggesting that, because the mobile home's capital value, at £3,000, is not very different from that of Chatsworth house, it therefore does not matter that Chatsworth house's owner pays only three times as much council tax as the mobile home's owner? Why will the Minister not consider extending council taxes so that they become a more equitable way of paying for local government?

Sir Paul Beresford

The hon. Lady seems to have missed the point that I was making, but that does not surprise me. We are talking about a simple system that is easily worked out. The banding was discussed. What she is asking for would involve dramatic changes, cost council tax payers very much more and complicate the system beyond what the general public could understand.