HL Deb 11 June 2003 vol 649 cc156-78GC

(1) In section 43 of the 1988 Act (occupied hereditaments: liability) for subsection 6) there is substituted—

"(6) This subsection applies where on the day concerned the ratepayer is—M

  1. (a) a charity or trustees for a charity and the hereditament is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes (whether of that charity or of that and other charities); or
  2. (b) a community amateur sports club within the meaning of Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 (c. 23) (relief for community amateur sports clubs) and the hereditament is wholly or mainly used for the purposes of that club or of that and any other such community amateur sports club or clubs."

(2) In section 45 of that Act (unoccupied hereditaments: liability) for subsection (6) there is substituted—

"(6) This subsection applies where on the day concerned the ratepayer is—

  1. (a) a charity or trustees for a charity and it appears that when next in use the hereditament will be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes (whether of that charity or of that and other charities); or
  2. (b) a community amateur sports club within the meaning of Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 and it appears that when next in use the hereditament will be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of that club or of that and any other such community amateur sports club or clubs.""

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

That is a good start.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

The fans have arrived.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I think that the happy mumbling is a fair reflection of the fact that this amendment has no enemies. It is no accident that there are supporters from the four corners of the House—the noble Lord, Lord Weatherill, from the Cross Benches, the noble Lord, Lord MacLaurin of Knebworth, former chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, from the Conservative Benches, and the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard of Liverpool, from the Labour Benches. All three are extremely sorry that, for various reasons, they cannot be here.

The whole sports world is extremely grateful for the Government's introduction of tax exemptions for community amateur sports clubs in 2002. It was a huge step forward. To be honest, there have not been enough thanks from the sports community as a whole to the Government. One of the reasons, perhaps, is that rates remain the most present and universal expense for clubs, and many councils do not provide relief. As sports clubs are not charities, it is entirely up to councils to decide whether they should exercise their discretion to relieve rates for community amateur sports clubs. It should not be forgotten that, if councils provide such relief, they must pay a quarter of the costs, unlike the mandatory 80 per cent exemption for charities, where the whole cost is borne by the Inland Revenue.

The issue was introduced during a debate in the House in 1999, initiated by the late lamented Lord Cowdrey, to which there was a unanimous response. He was concerned about the state of sport in this country, not merely at professional and international level, but throughout society. During that debate, the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, made an extremely telling remark. He has asked me to quote him as saying, there needs to be an unbroken chain leading towards sporting achievement of the highest standard. A key link in the chain is provided by the Community Amateur Sporting Clubs. If that is missing, much of their promise and skills is wasted". That is why the noble Lord says: I believe it is in the public interest to give relief to such clubs". Why, the Committee may ask, has the sporting world not leapt at the community amateur sports clubs (CASC) exemption? Given that there are around 140,000 sports clubs, why have tens of thousands of applications to register not flooded in? I was going to say that it is a mystery, but it is no longer so. The reason that, at the last count, fewer than 400 clubs had registered as CASCs, is a combination of circumstances peculiar to these wonderful beasts. First, amateur sports clubs have no professional help; secondly, they have a phobia about bureaucracy and think that becoming a CASC, let alone a charity, will lead them into deep bureaucratic ways; and, finally, they are afraid of moving into the unknown and adopting a status from which they cannot withdraw. The survival of many CASCs is extremely tenuous, which I shall discuss in a moment. Rates are the most important factor of all to such clubs, which is why there is a such a low take-up of the CASC exemption.

I am perfectly willing to accept that the Government may not believe us because we said that thousands of clubs would take up the CASC exemption. When the issue was debated in the Commons in January, the Minister, Mr Leslie, said, first, that the Government felt that they needed to wait and see how things worked out vis-a-vis the CASC exemption, and, secondly, that to give rating exemptions to CASCs would be anomalous. We have had long enough—over a year—to see how CASCs develop. Fewer than 400 have registered. Fewer than 40 clubs have registered as charities, which is a possibility that has been available only in the past year or two.

Members whose names are attached to the amendment—and, one could almost say, everyone else—feel that community amateur sports clubs are the lifeblood of England's communities. They reach people that genuinely no other voluntary organisations reach, particularly young tearaways; that is to say, young men and women with a lot of energy but few outlets for it. CASCs provide self-discipline, teamwork skills, self-esteem, community involvement and participation in a way that many will not experience in any other pursuit.

Another feature of CASCs—this goes directly to the point of the amendment and the need to make this further concession to CASCs—is that they are the very groups that all governments strive most strenuously to achieve: organic, bottom-up, self-help organisations. They are community-based, amateur and involve all ages, classes, occupations, sorts and conditions. They are a Minster's dream.

There are more than 5 million members of such clubs in the country, many of whom are young people. Because of those benefits, although we come here as supplicants to seek a further concession, there is a genuine sense that the Government would do their own bidding very effectively by allowing CASCs to have the same rating exemption as charities. The costs—a hugely important consideration—are modest by government spending reckoning.

On 19th December, there was a Written Answer asking how many CASCs were on the rating lists. The answer was: The rating lists for England include about 16,000 sports properties, including those used by community amateur sports clubs, as well as professional and commercial sports bodies". It continues: Of the 16,000 sports bodies, 7,500 have rateable values of under £3,000 and a further 4,000 have rateable values above £3,000 and below f8,000".—[Official Report, Commons, 19/12/02; col. 949W.] Those are the new small business exemption limits. A modest number of around 7,000 have a rateable value of over £8,000.

The calculations carried out by the Central Council for Physical Recreation (CCPR) provide a statistic that I should have given to the Government Front Bench before speaking, but I shall happily provide a copy immediately. It reckons that the cost of 80 per cent mandatory relief for CASCs would be around £10 million a year beyond what the Government currently pay. That assumes a much, much higher take-up for registration of CASCs than the present rather pathetic number.

There is a feeling on this side of the Committee that this concession should have no enemies. Some councils are now starting to say, given the proposed new small business relief, that if a club will not register as a CASC or charity, they will not exercise discretion to give it the relief that it has hitherto provided. For example, Copeland Borough Council has told Whitehaven rugby club just that. It says that if the club does not register as a charity, it will not give it any concession. Given that the discretionary relief is particularly onerous for councils to carry out and is expensive to administer, I have no doubt that many other councils will follow the same line. It should not be forgotten that the many clubs with a rateable value of over £8,000 will find that their rate bills are increased. As I understand it, the new small business relief is supposed to be self-financing, which will place a higher burden on the others.

Many may say that sport is doing fine and ask why we need more concessions. It is not doing fine. When the debate was held in 1999, the general consensus was that sport in this country has many wonderful achievements to its name but that grassroots sport is not doing fine. I have some up-to-date statistics.

In tennis, at elite level, we have two men in the top 100 world rankings, but there are no women in that position. In rugby, on which there was a very big survey recently, 46 per cent of clubs reported a decline in membership. The only element of clubs that is increasing is mini-rugby. That is good, but clubs need all the help that they can get to keep that impetus going into the senior clubs. In cricket, there is a slow but steady decline in affiliated and unaffiliated clubs. In soccer, there has been a dramatic decline of almost 4 per cent in the number of clubs in the past two years, meaning that almost 1,500 clubs have gone out of business. In addition, in a recent CCPR survey, a third of clubs said that their finances were precarious; 38 per cent reported a decline in membership; 68 per cent reported an increase in red tape, and so on. The picture, despite many bright spots, is not good.

There is no point in waiting any longer to see where things are, as we know already. CASCs are not an anomaly; they have already been given special tax status in the 2002 budget. I hope very much that the Government will accede to this request, which has the full backing of the CCPR, Sport England, the Rugby Football Union, the Football Association and many other organisations. I beg to move.

Lord Smith of Leigh

moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 138, Amendment No. 138ZA: Line 28, at end insert— (3) To qualify for the relief, community amateur sports clubs must demonstrate they will invest their relief into their sporting activities." The noble Lord said: I support very much the arguments presented by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury. However, when he says that there has been a decline in rugby, I presume that he refers to rugby union. There certainly has not been a decline in rugby league, which is expanding dramatically at present. It is now played in every county throughout England and is the most successful game in Wales.

The noble Lord's remarks on regeneration through sport are very important. If we contrast the levels of investment in community sport in this country with that in France, and the difference in each country's crime rate, there is an important lesson for us all. Although I support the principles of the amendment in seeking rate relief for sports clubs, in my experience, we must go one stage further. Sports clubs are complex organisations, with many different sections including one that looks after sports. There is, therefore, no guarantee that the money that clubs save will be used to improve the sporting element of the club. Many clubs have bars, and we would not wish to see the money used to reduce bar prices. In my experience, that has happened.

In my amendment, I wish to add to the proposed new clause a condition that investment in community sport must be seen to come out of the money that goes into clubs. My own local authority runs such a scheme with discretionary relief. It works very well and has increased the partnership between the local authority and sports clubs. It also ensures that money is used to improve sport at community level. I hope that Members of the Committee will accept this additional power, which would ensure that the intention of Amendment No. 138 is achieved. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Monro of Langholm

I support the amendment, which I think admirable. It is important because of its simplicity. With all due respect, the additional amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Smith, perhaps adds complication. At a time when the Government are rightly looking seriously at the fitness of the nation and, in particular, the fitness of our younger people, this seems one of the least expensive ways of making good progress. I shall own up to the fact that 38 years ago in 1965, I moved an amendment to the then Finance Bill to have mandatory 100 per cent de-rating of sports clubs—without success. I have chipped away and chipped away, but other people have been more successful. Certainly what the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, with the help of Lord Cowdrey and others, achieved two years ago was a tremendous advance.

I am glad that the Government brought in the change that they did, but I must say that I think it was the wrong change to make. I cannot imagine a more complicated system of charitable status or a more expensive system to attain a very simple aim, which probably, in terms of a sports club, achieves a relatively low sum. To go through all the legal proceedings of charitable status is a very forbidding occupation for most volunteer sports club secretaries. I think that is why so few have tried to attain that status.

If we moved forward with this amendment, all that would be beside the point. It would be much more simple and local authorities could press ahead and give mandatory 100 per cent relief of rates. Of course, many do that now. Certainly, many local authorities give 50 per cent discretionary relief and some give various percentages higher. They realise that the sports facilities in their local authority areas are very important for a whole host of reasons—many of which have been given by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. We should do all that we can to encourage sport, particularly at the relatively low cost of £10 million estimated by the CCPR, from a budget of £51,000 million. Therefore, it is a very tiny percentage of the expenditure of the department.

As we know, the amendment is warmly supported by all the sports groups—the NPFA, the CCPR and others. They all believe that this would be one of the least expensive and most effective methods of encouraging sport in England at the present time. Obviously, this is an issue that the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly would follow up if passed in this country. I warmly support what the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, said. I apologise for dashing in and out and looking at the monitor, but I am deeply involved in the debate in the Chamber. I hope that the Minister will see light here—that this is the best value for money—and I hope that he will agree to the amendment.

Lord Moynihan

I, too, support the amendment. The Bill is of immense importance to the future of voluntary sport. Business rates are the largest tax faced by voluntary sports clubs. As drafted, the Bill will penalise larger voluntary sports clubs in order to fund relief for small businesses. That aspect of the Bill needs to be amended to take account of the unique characteristics of the voluntary sports clubs and to stop treating them the same as businesses. The amendment is designed to provide community amateur sports clubs, as defined by the Finance Act 2002, with 80 per cent mandatory rate relief parity with charity.

The background is clear. The Finance Act 2002, to which praise has been given, created limited tax exemptions for community amateur sports clubs, as defined by the Act, that were unwilling or unable to become charities. As has been rightly pointed out, there is widespread support in both Houses for this amendment. In another place, Early-Day Motion 702 in the last Session, signed by 151 MPs, supported the provision of 80 per cent mandatory rate relief for community amateur sports clubs. The Select Committee report into the draft Local Government Bill similarly recommended that community amateur sports clubs receive 80 per cent mandatory rate relief. When a similar amendment was debated in Committee in the Commons, it received strong, all-party support.

To the Government, the critical issue is clearly cost, and reference has been made to the excellent work undertaken by the Central Council for Physical Recreation, which identified that the cost would be approximately £10 million. I believe that £10 million should be viewed against the benefits that it would bring to the ailing voluntary sports club sector as well as the reduction in red tape for both clubs and councils. Sport remains the most popular form of volunteering in communities and it is now widely recognised that community sport plays a key role in promoting health, social cohesion and reducing anti-social behaviour. The cost of obesity alone is in excess of £2.5 billion each year, against the £10 million which we are discussing today.

We should set this amendment in context. After a series of delays the Government have announced their support for a London Olympic bid. Yet, in the past 48 hours, we have seen funding for sport in this country continue to be cut as potential future Olympians are turned away from training centres closed by cuts. Consider the tragic case of table tennis, which many Members of the Committee will have read about this week. In addition, we have an Olympic bid without leadership.

If the United Kingdom is to see success at the London Olympic Games, it needs to focus on widening, not restricting, participation in sport; on identifying, not denying, talent the right to flourish; and on building a strong alliance—this is critical—between schools, governing bodies and clubs to ensure that through wider participation in sport we nurture the Olympic champions of the future. The amendment is an important first step in that direction. The provision of relief to community amateur sports clubs would assist not only future Olympians, but also government policy for health, education, social inclusion and crime reduction. I hope that we shall have a surprise from the Government today when—convinced by the rhetoric from all sides of the Committee and, indeed, from another place—they realise that it would be £10 million well invested in future talent, in community participation and in their absolutely correct priorities for social inclusion, health, crime prevention and wider participation in sport. All those objectives can be achieved by accepting the amendment as it stands.

Lord Addington

I apologise for missing the first few moments when my noble friend Lord Phillips introduced the amendment, but I should like to add to what has been said. Amateur sports clubs effectively take on the large proportion of the sports education in this country. They subsidise our failing school sports and physical education system to an almost unimaginable level. They are regularly called upon. The Government have recognised their role and, apparently, the school sports co-ordinator has a very important liaison function. Yet we are saying, "You are doing something on the cheap, for free, effectively, for us", but we are not prepared to give a basic level of relief. That is what this amendment calls for.

I am afraid that rugby league is in bad shape. It may be spreading where it is played, but the players are getting older. That is a great problem in all sports—most sports players are getting older and we are not producing kids who play sport any more. Rugby union and rugby league first-team players are aged 40—I have personal experience of that. That is good news for physiotherapists, but not good news for sport.

We are not producing the great flow of people that we did, but amateur sports clubs are doing that. The potential savings to the health service are massive. The Government have already conceded that the point of this amendment is important, but unless they are prepared to move to ensure that every sport benefits from its provisions, we shall come back to the matter again and again. Every time there is a delay in the process of giving that little bit more funding, the benefits of expansion will be denied.

Amendment No. 138ZA expresses a good sentiment but I cannot see how it would be possible to administer. The main point here is that, effectively, amateur sports clubs are subsidising the Government. Do not make them pay any more than they have to.

Lord Rooker

I should like to say that I have just heard five brilliant speeches in favour of a brilliant amendment.

A noble Lord

Go on, make it six.

Lord Rooker

It is supported by Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour Members and Cross-Benchers. I am on a hiding to nothing. On the other hand, the chances are that it would be a Secretary of State accepting the amendment and not a humble Minister of State. I come with the bad news that I cannot accept the amendment, but nevertheless, I agree with every point made in those speeches. Frankly, any sensible Member of either House would agree with the general points made. I am not hiding behind the proprieties of this House in dealing with what is essentially a finance measure. I understand that there has been a great deal of support for it in another place but, in a way, another place is the place to sort this out. I fully concur with the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, about the Olympic bid.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, for saying "Thank you" in his opening speech for what had been done previously, and I do not want to belittle any of the points made. I turned to officials half way through one noble Lord's speech and asked, "Would there be any trouble if I accepted this?". "Yes, there would be", they said. I am told that it is reshuffle week as well, so that would probably not be a good idea.

Obviously, it is a new clause. I fully accept that there is an idea drafted here and that there is a head of steam behind it; one looks for pegs to hang it on and Bills to fit it in. This is obviously a Bill into which it could neatly fit. I must point out that this particular Local Government Bill does not contain any provisions for mandatory rate relief for community amateur sports clubs.

I shall now turn to the notes—everything that I have said so far is not written down. In November 2001, the Charity Commission announced that it would now recognise as charitable purposes: The promotion of community participation in healthy recreation by the provision of facilities for the playing of particular sport", and, The advancement of the physical recreation of young people not undergoing formal education". They are two laudable points.

I must say to Members of the Committee who have just turned up to our proceedings—we have been in Committee for a few hours on this Bill so far; that is, 12 at the moment and coming up to 16—that every time I refer to the Local Government Finance Act 1988, I cannot resist reminding colleagues that it was the poll tax Act. Sections 43 and 45 of that Act provide mandatory rate relief to all charities at both the occupied and unoccupied rates. The Act does not make any distinction between different types of voluntary bodies, as they all do good community works. Any sports club that gains charitable status would immediately benefit from the existing rate relief for charities provided under the Local Government Act Finance 1988 at both those rates.

The Government introduced a tax package for community amateur sports clubs—for which the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, said thank you—in the Finance Act 2002. That provided a range of tax reliefs for sports clubs on their income and on donations which local people made to support them. Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 provides the criteria required to gain charitable status. I do not have any figures on that. I should be grateful to have such figures, as I should like to know them.

As the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, said, few have taken the step that we are discussing. You can walk into—I shall not provide any business with publicity—branches of well-known stationers in the high street and buy prepared legal documents to enable you to take certain steps, such as making a will yourself rather than employ a solicitor. One would think that someone would knock up a little package to be sold in stationers for sports clubs. All they would have to do would be to fill in a form. Why not? What would be the problem? Is that a good or a bad point? Members of the Committee are laughing at me.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

It is very kind of the Minister to make that suggestion. My firm would provide just such a package. I shall give the Minister details later.

Lord Rooker

I refer to a package, which could be bought off the shelf, including forms that could be filled in. I understand the fear of bureaucracy that is engendered by the mere mention of the Charity Commission. The main purpose in life of the people that we are discussing is the relevant amateur sports club not filling in forms and getting involved in bureaucracy. But, given that the relevant legislation is in place to assist them, I do not see why they should not be assisted in the way I have described. I cannot lay claim to that suggestion. But it occurred to me that if so few of those bodies have taken the step that we are discussing, we should be able to encourage the rest to do so.

Where sports clubs do not meet the Charity Commission's criteria, or where they have decided not to seek this status, I have to repeat what I am sure was said in another place; namely, that local authorities have the power under Section 42(2)(c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to grant rate relief of up to 100 per cent to any non-profit-making body at their discretion. I cannot rest my case on what I am about to say, but I say to Members of the Committee who are new to our proceedings that the Bill is about freedom and flexibility for local authorities. The whole idea is to remove burdens from them. That is the whole thrust of the legislation. I should like to think that—although I would not describe the measure we are discussing as centralising—we are giving freedoms and flexibilities to local authorities that they have dreamt of only in recent years.

There is already legislation that enables local authorities to grant rate relief of up to 100 per cent for certain worthy bodies. I suspect that a little more local pressure in the right quarter ought to be applied to those local authorities that do not grant such relief. The Committee will be aware that community amateur sports clubs may also benefit from the proposals in the Bill for the rate relief scheme for small businesses, which would provide mandatory rate relief of up to 50 per cent for qualifying properties. Sports clubs will also remain eligible for up to 100 per cent rate relief as a top-up to the new mandatory relief at the discretion of a local authority. Local authorities are required to make some contribution to the rate pool for discretionary relief but they do not have to make a full contribution.

The following information may be a little out of date. I do not refer to any clubs from my former constituency. I understand that rates are based on open market rental values. The rates bill is therefore less than 50 per cent of the annual rental value because the rates poundage is less than 50p in the pound. Therefore, the rates may not be the primary expenditure of many sports clubs. They may not pay the open market rental if they have entered into a particular arrangement. They may not pay the full amount. Therefore, as I say, the rates may not constitute the main expenditure but they will constitute a large part of the expenditure of some clubs.

I have some good news now. The Cabinet Office's Strategy Unit report, Private Action, Public Benefit, proposes that the list of charitable purposes be expanded to include the advancement of charitable sport. That proposal would be of particular benefit to amateur sports clubs, as many more, including the larger ones, would become eligible for mandatory rate relief as a result. The report also makes recommendations that should reduce the onerous process involved in the registration of charities as well as proposals on trading, membership charges and selection rules.

Although the Government are still considering the proposals in the report, if adopted they would build on the existing measures in place to assist sports clubs to gain charitable status. In other words, the matter is not frozen. We have not reached the point of saying, "This far and no further". Work is going on at present. I do not know what the outcome of the Government's final consideration of the Cabinet Office report will be, but these measures taken together should ensure that community amateur sports clubs benefit from reduced-rates bills without the need to introduce special provision in legislation beyond what is available for charities. As I say, the charitable route exists. If it could be made easier for community amateur sports clubs to attain charitable status, so much the better.

Amendment No. 138ZA attempts to ensure that the money saved through rate relief will be channelled hack into sporting activity. As I believe the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said, since community amateur sports clubs will not pay the charge that we are discussing—they are probably not paying it at the moment due to discretionary rate relief—it is difficult to know how to prove that the money that is saved is being channelled back into sporting activity. Provided that a club could show that it had spent the amount saved on sporting activity, it would fulfil the terms of the amendment. However, there is no way of proving that the money that is spent on sporting activity is the money that is saved through rate relief. That is the difficulty.

I told my noble friend earlier that I hoped to give him some reassurance; however, I may sound negative initially, as I am resisting the amendment. Members of the Committee are, of course, free to return to the matter on Report. However, as I said earlier today, the Bill needs to receive Royal Assent between late July and early September in order to bring in the new local government financial structure for the next financial year. I have warned the Committee that if any ping-pong were contemplated with regard to the Bill, the Government would take away the ball. However, I would not dream of making threats. I believe that the amendment that we are discussing is brilliant. I could not possibly be accused of making threats.

I hope that, with the assurances that the Government do not have a closed mind on the issue, the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment. I have no doubt that I shall make a similar speech at later stages of the Bill.

The Earl of Caithness

The Minister should not be so reticent in saying that a Minister of State in this House cannot accept an amendment. When in government, my noble friend Lady Blatch and I regularly accepted the principle of amendments. We even had them redrafted by civil servants and returned to the noble Lords who introduced them. I used to return such amendments to Members of the Opposition. I believe that the Minister would like to accept the principle of the amendment that we are discussing, take it away, redraft it and return it to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, for Report stage.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

That is extremely—

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Geddes)

I hope that I may be of assistance to the Grand Committee. The amendment to which we are speaking now is Amendment No. 138ZA. It has not yet been agreed or withdrawn. Then we shall revert to Amendment No. 138. I look to the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Leigh, as to what he wishes to do with his Amendment No. 138ZA.

Lord Smith of Leigh

I thank the noble Lord for that advice. I am sorry that there seems to be doubt that the scheme we are discussing could work. I assure the Committee that it is a practical scheme that works in my authority. We draw up a contract with the sports clubs that receive discretionary relief to ensure that the savings they obtain from rate relief are channelled into new investment. Clubs need to show how they will benefit from the relief by allocating the money that is saved to new investment. Otherwise—

Baroness Blatch

This is my first intervention, but I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. The noble Lord said that he wanted a commitment to new investment if the relief was granted. However, as regards some of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, and as regards the information that I have, sometimes it is a question of surviving rather than channelling money into new investment. Clubs may need to use money to stave off the necessity to close or simply to clear their backlog of debt.

Lord Smith of Leigh

I understand the point that has been made. However, sports clubs have bars. Sometimes the bar section may have great influence as it is making money rather than spending it. My concern is that the money we are discussing may be allocated to the bar section of the club and 2not be channelled, as the Committee would wish, into sporting activity. As I say, my local authority has a scheme that works very effectively in that regard. However, having listened to the comments that have been made, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 138ZA, as an amendment to Amendment No. 138, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

We now revert to Amendment No. 138.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I am extremely grateful to the Minister and to all those who have spoken in this mini debate. I got two crumbs of comfort from what the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said. First, he did not continue with the line adopted by the Government in the Commons of saying that the measure would be anomalous or that we ought to wait and see. Secondly, I was certainly encouraged when the noble Lord was quite open in admitting that he did not realise what a pathetically low take-up there has been so far both for charities—the figure is about 40—and CASCs where the figure is some 400.

Therein perhaps lies a little hope. I know that Gordon Brown is extremely keen on the sentiment behind the amendment and the sentiment behind the introduction of CASCs. His speech on the matter during the debate on the Finance Bill was extremely eloquent. He could have been speaking on this amendment on behalf of Members on this side of the Committee. If the Minister could be prevailed upon to present the measure to Gordon Brown—because he is probably not aware that the ambitions we all had in this regard have not been realised—the Government may take a different view at Report stage.

I believe that it is hoped to increase the number taking advantage of both CASC and charity tax exemptions, which include rates, by means of an off-the-shelf charity pack. However, it does not work like that. The process is much more cumbersome, complex and long-winded. The experience of Banbury Cricket Club has scared the living daylights out of every cricket club in the land. To be fair, the CASC regime has been wonderfully effective and efficiently run by the Inland Revenue. To register as a CASC involves filling in two sides of one sheet of A4 paper. That scheme is well administered. The simple truth is that we shall not get the benefit of this great reform unless we can bring CASCs into line with charities as regards rates. I urge the Minister, if he would be so kind, to review that aspect of the matter.

Lord Rooker

I certainly cannot give the commitment that was originally asked of me. However, I am happy to draw to the attention of my colleagues in the Treasury the speeches that have been made today and, in particular, the actual practical effects of the Finance Act 2002. I shall ask them for an update on the effectiveness of that legislation as it is clear that I shall have to return to the matter on Report. I fully accept what the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, said; namely, that the thrust of the Chancellor's remarks made when the Finance Act was being debated was that he wanted the provision we are discussing to work. Changes that have been made in the area of charitable giving are not always followed up. It is a question of introducing such changes widely. There is enormous potential in that regard of which people are unaware. As I say. I shall inquire into the effectiveness of the legislation in regard to the matter that we are discussing in order to be able to return to the issue on Report.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I am most grateful to the Minister for those remarks. I assure him that Richard Caborn, the present Minister for Sport, is no less rabidly keen on the matter than was his predecessor, Kate Hoey. He is trying to do something in the way of roadshows going round the country—I am involved in this—trying to drum up support and to eliminate misconceptions. As I said. I am most grateful to the Minister for his comments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7 p.m.

Clause 64 [Calculation of non-domestic rating multiplier]:

The Earl of Caithness

moved Amendment No. 138A: Page 27, line 38, leave out subsection (3). The noble Earl said: We return to the more esoteric subject of the details of rating rather than the charitable aspects of it. Amendments Nos. 1 38 A and 138B are probing amendments on the funding of the small business rate relief. I posed a number of questions to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, on Amendment No. 136. I hope he now has the answers for me.

Looking at the issue in more detail and looking at the threshold of £8,000 of rateable value, that is probably equivalent to £150 a week in rent. Not many people with offices and retail property will benefit from that in the South East and particularly in London, although those may be small businesses. If there is such a finite cut-off point as £8,000, however the Government seek to justify that, it seems grossly unfair that someone just above the line has to subsidise someone just below the line, and yet the businesses could be almost or totally identical but in a slightly smaller or larger space.

I suggest that the Government look at the Scottish scheme. In Scotland not only is there a different rateable value for small business relief of £10,000, but those who will have to pay for that have to be in premises with a rateable value of over £25,000. So the top end will subsidise the bottom end. Therefore, there will not be the problem that the Government will impose on many businesses in England, where those just above the line pay more than those just below it. In Scotland there is a break in the middle. I commend that system to the Government.

I believe the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, knows the other questions to which I want answers. I beg to move.

Lord Hanningfield

We intend to oppose the Question that Clause 64 stand part of the Bill. I believe that the Bill will be more readable without that clause and its complications. Can the Minister mention the timing of the provisions in the clause and how he believes that it will work, bearing in mind its complicated nature?

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I shall try to deal with both points. We all know that since 1990 there has been a national single rate poundage or multiplier introduced by the former government and one for the whole of Wales.

Clause 64 introduces something different. I believe it is a better system. Instead of one multiplier and a single rate poundage, it provides for two multipliers. There will be a small business non-domestic rating multiplier and a non-domestic rating multiplier.

When a small business rate relief scheme is run under Clause 63, the non-domestic rating multiplier will be set at a higher level than the small business rating multiplier to produce an addition to rate yield equivalent to the cost of the small business relief. That is how it will work. The addition to the rates bills of those not receiving relief will be small. As we said in the White Paper, it will probably be less than 2.5 per cent.

In addition to providing for the funding of small business relief in England, the clause makes changes in the case of England and Wales as to how the multipliers—including the English small business multiplier—are to be adjusted to take account of the effects of revaluations.

Every five years, all non-domestic properties are revalued—the Committee knows that better than I do. The purpose is not to change the total yield from rates, but to redistribute the rate burden in line with movements in the property market since the last revaluation. Therefore, if there is a significant increase in total rateable value at a revaluation, the multiplier must be reduced. Alternatively, if there is a significant decrease in total rateable value, the multiplier must be increased. Thus in a revaluation year the English and Welsh multipliers will include an adjustment to offset changes in the total rateable value for each country between 31 March 2005, the last day of the old rating lists, and 1 April, the first day of the new lists.

However, the value for the first day of the new lists is subject to erosion through successful appeals by ratepayers for reductions in their new rateable values where those reductions have retrospective effect from 1 April. So the Secretary of State and the Welsh Assembly are currently required to estimate what will be shown for 1 April once the effect of successful appeals has been allowed for. Those are the estimated final rateable values for 1 April, which are used when making the adjustment to the multipliers to offset the effect of revaluation.

The estimates may be difficult to make. Accordingly, Clause 64 allows adjustments in the multipliers for subsequent years to compensate for any error in estimation at the revaluation. That is plain, good sense. The calculation of the multipliers at the 1995 and 2000 revaluations were based on what have turned out to be sound estimates of losses in rate yield. That being the case, the new power to adjust the multiplier to compensate for errors in estimating losses in rate yield is likely to have only a marginal effect on the level of multipliers. I should stress that this new power to make subsequent corrections to the multipliers could see the multipliers being set at lower levels as well as higher levels.

Finally, the provisions contained in Clause 64 are not designed to affect the total rate yield. They will ensure that the relief given to small businesses will be paid for by an increase of a per cent or two perhaps in the hills of other ratepayers. They will also ensure that the multiplier can be set with even greater accuracy to offset the effects of a revaluation.

I am reluctant to say this, as it will probably upset Members of the Committee opposite, but the amendments would wreck Clause 64. That is plain. It would be impossible to fund the English rate relief scheme through a small supplement on the bills of other ratepayers. It would also be impossible to adjust the England and Welsh multipliers, whether down or up, to offset the effects of a revaluation that had not been fully provided for when originally setting the multiplier at that revaluation.

The noble Earl does not like where we have struck the balance, but we believe that we have it about right. Our research has shown that something like 1.7 million rateable values—about a million or so—are less than £8,000. That is roughly two thirds of those who will he subject to the new system. A majority of ratepayers in this scheme will benefit. We calculate—this answers one of the points made earlier by the noble Earl—that the £8,000 threshold would have an impact of less than 2 per cent on the rate bill. The judgment was that that was at the appropriate level.

There was also a question about the timing of the introduction of the small business relief. The answer is that it cannot be introduced before April 2004 because the preparation will take time and so an introduction in 2005, the point of revaluation, may be appropriate.

The noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, spoke of his intention to oppose the Question that Clause 64 stand part. I have a complicated note here that explains more of the mechanisms. I have gone over most of those points in what I have said so I believe I have answered the range of issues. However, omitting the clause would blast a major hole in the operation of the scheme. We believe that we have the balance of benefit about right. The Scottish scheme demonstrates the joy of devolution; that is how they want to deal with the matter in Scotland, which is fine. The Scots have designed the scheme rather differently. We believe that we are providing the majority of non-domestic ratepayers with a benefit. Clearly, the numbers demonstrate that.

The noble Earl has made a point about those on the margin and just above it. That is a reasonable point to make, but we have to draw the line somewhere and that is where we have cast it.

Baroness Maddock

Given the debate that we have had today on these issues and the views expressed outside the Committee by small business groups and the CBI, can the Minister tell the Committee what proposals there are to monitor the effects of the proposals in the Bill? Already the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, has promised that under BIDs they will look carefully at what happens and maybe adjust matters. Certainly the CBI is keen to see the balance of effects between rents and rates on the proposals. Can the Minister give some reassurance that there will be robust monitoring?

Lord Bassam of Brighton

Active, robust, periodic, specific, effective—I am sure that it will be all those things. I believe that there is a commitment in the White Paper to a review process. It would be foolish to do otherwise. Clearly, we do not want a non-domestic rating system to have an adverse impact, for example, on the rate of business formation. We recognise that.

I believe I said earlier in reply to the noble Earl's earlier contribution that we recognise that the burden is there. It is an efficient tax. We have to take account of movements. That is why the multipliers are there to he adjusted according to property values. When there is a slump in property values clearly there will need to be an adjustment to take account of that. We recognise that it is a burden on business and we have to try to set the right and appropriate level for that burden. There will be arguments and disagreements as to what that is, but we are committed to keeping a very careful eye on that.

Lord Hanningfield

There is some unhappiness in the outside world about the proposals. Could there be an element of local discretion? If they go ahead with the proposals, the Government will certainly have to make the proposals clear and understandable to the outside world if they are to be implemented next April.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I am rather entertained by this commitment to localism from the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield. I believe I said earlier that the scheme was introduced in 1990. That got rid of the potential scope for local discussion. Back in the late 1980s I remember, as leader of a council, being asked whether I could provide extra relief to a local company that was then in dire straits and big trouble. Yes, we provided some assistance, but, as I remember, we were not able to do that under the later national scheme, which has to have national conformity. At the end of the day, it is about divvying up to the local authorities an appropriate amount based on the national formulation and the way that national scheme works.

I understand what the noble Lord says, but his government introduced the scheme. It has worked well and it is very efficient. In this Bill, we are trying to address some of those global issues where there are sensitivities to a particular sector of businesses—the small business sector, a million of which will benefit from this. We try to take account of that in updating the system.

The Earl of Caithness

I am extremely grateful to the Minister for that very full reply. My only comment on it is that most of it did not address any of the points that I raised, but it was very interesting to listen to and I am sure it was extremely helpful to the Committee.

Perhaps I can ask the Minister to write to me on the following points. He mentioned the impact of the £8,000, but could he tell me the impact if the rateable value were £10,000? What are the amounts of money involved at £8,000 and £10,000? Will the Government look at something like the Scottish system, whereby those immediately above the rateable value have, as it were, a holiday period, which is therefore taken by the bigger businesses? Also, I would like a further note on why all the costs should be borne by other ratepayers. Those are the four issues. I am not asking the Minister to give me an answer now but, if he could write to me before further stages of the Bill, it would be extremely helpful.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

We do not have the work done or access to that information as we debate the issue today. I am sure that the noble Earl understands that; he has been in this position. Of course we are happy to follow up those points. If we do not, I am sure that he will table a parliamentary Question.

The Earl of Caithness

I am sure that there will be no need to when I receive the answers. I am grateful to the Minister. The amendment was quite dramatic, but it was a way to acquire some of the answers that we need. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 138 B not moved.]

Clause 64 agreed to.

Clause 65 agreed to.

Clause 66 [Transitional relief]:

The Earl of Caithness

moved Amendment No. 139: Page 32, leave out lines 39 to 44 and insert— (10) In making regulations under this section, the Secretary of State shall have regard to the object of securing (so far as practicable) that the aggregate amount payable to him and all billing authorities by way of non-domestic rates as regards a relevant period is the same as the aggregate amount which would be so payable apart from the regulations. The noble Earl said: In moving the amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 140 and 140A. We move now from skirmishing into real heavy pounding. Rather like the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, I will start to read rather than talk, because the subject is so important that I need to get it on record in the way in which it should be.

The amendment seeks to allow a more flexible system of transitional arrangements on non-domestic rates to be introduced following the next and subsequent revaluations. It achieves that through modifying the excessively restrictive provisions in new Section 57A(10) of the 1988 Act, which is proposed in Clause 66. I was interested when, in the debate on Amendment No. 138, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said that there was freedom and flexibility for local authorities. Under the Bill, the Government seek to destroy and nullify freedom and flexibility in existing legislation.

Clause 66 introduces a number of important changes to transitional arrangements following rating revaluations. First, the clause removes the Secretary of State's option of not introducing transitional arrangements. Secondly, the Bill insists that the transitional arrangements should be self-financing within each financial year at no cost to the Exchequer. Previously, the Government could decide whether the results of a revaluation warranted transitional arrangements. The Government could also decide whether they would support transitional arrangements through the Exchequer. The Bill removes the flexibility of government to consider either option.

Rating revaluations work by transferring rates liabilities to properties with relatively higher rental values compared with the previous revaluation. The impact of the revaluation on a particular property is governed by the change of that property's value relative to the average for the whole of England. Thus, if the value of a particular property rises by more than the average, the rates liability will rise. If the value does otherwise, the liability will fall.

As revaluations can produce quite large changes in rates liability, transitional relief has been used to cushion ratepayers against the largest increases through staging changes in rates liability over a number of years. In order to recoup some of the revenue lost due to that capping of increased bills, a transitional penalty has been imposed on those whose bills should be falling, and their reductions have also been capped and phased in.

We regard denying immediate reductions to those whose bills should be falling to be inequitable and morally indefensible. Those businesses, whose relative property values have fallen, are often in the greatest need of reduced rates bills, yet they have been required to pay a premium to protect successful businesses from full increases. Independent research shows that, between 1995 and 2000, businesses were overcharged by £3.5 billion because of downwards phasing.

The Exchequer has previously made up the balance of revenue lost due to transitional relief. The Bill requires that future transitional schemes should be fully self-financing from within the rating system to avoid the need for any Exchequer support. That policy was criticised by the Select Committee in the House of Commons which scrutinised the draft Bill.

Although I understand the motivation behind the relevant clause, I do not think that the Government should fetter future flexibility to act in that way. In a different economic climate from today, the Government may wish to provide financial support. Indeed, that occurred in 1992 when the previous requirement for a statutory self-financing scheme had to be unwound through primary legislation— the Non-Domestic Rating Act 1992—to permit Exchequer support at a time of recession.

I have even greater concerns over the Bill's requirement that transitional arrangements would have to self-finance with each financial year. That would require either a continuation of downwards phasing, or a substantial UBR premium in the early years of the revaluation cycle to fund transitional relief, or both. The present transitional arrangements are so complex that rates bills are exceptionally difficult to follow and businesses simply fail to understand the derivation of their tax liability.

It was because of those concerns that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, in conjunction with the two other professional rating bodies, the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation and the Rating Surveyors' Association, funded independent research into options for transitional arrangements. That research was undertaken by Occupiers Property Databank and published in February 2003. It is the only comprehensive analysis of transitional arrangements and revaluations. The report demonstrated that a self-financing transitional scheme without "downwards transition" could be achieved if the Government could accept making the scheme self-financing over the five-year life of a rating period.

The Bill does not allow that flexibility, so the amendment would allow the flexibility to establish alternative transitional arrangements schemes. The alternatives are detailed in independent research and have been provided to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. They would allow transition to be implemented with greater simplicity and fairness for the ratepayers, and at the same time protect revenue for the Exchequer. A detailed explanation of those alternatives and how they would affect Treasury revenue from business rates is provided in paragraphs 34 and 35.

The precise format of a transitional scheme is to be determined by regulations. My proposals are achievable, however, through reducing the time that properties are held in transition, avoiding downwards transition and paying for staging increases in rates bills through a small increase in UBR that is unlikely to exceed 1p, spread over the five years of a rating list.

That is complicated stuff, but it is the nub of how the provisions will work. At the moment, the transitional scheme is very complicated. Businesses do not know where they stand, and the Government are depriving themselves of any flexibility to make alternative arrangements should economic changes arise. That was a mistake that we made in the 1990s and had to unwind. I hope that the Government will think again and not fall into the same trap as we did. I beg to move.

Baroness Maddock

In view of the time, I shall not take long. My honourable friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton in another place was very supportive of the thrust of the amendments when they were considered there. We wish to support the principles of flexibility and fairness, so we support the noble Earl.

Lord Rooker

In answer to one point raised by the noble Earl, I assure him that we are constantly trying to learn the lessons of the 1990s and not make the same mistakes. I shall do what he did and stick to my notes, which will then all be on the record and can be read over the next few days. Then it will be time to depart.

Clause 66 guarantees to ratepayers that there will be a transitional scheme to accompany any future revaluation. The current provision in the Local Government Finance Act 1988 simply confers a power to establish a scheme, but does not impose a duty to do so. Business, including the CBI, has stressed the necessity of transitional schemes accompanying future revaluations.

The details of future schemes—the maximum annual increase and decrease in bills—will be decided in the run-up to the revaluation concerned, when the revaluation's impact on individual rateable values will be known. But as stated in the White Paper, Strong Local Leadership—Quality Public Services, any future transitional scheme must be self-financing. There is no reason whatever why the general taxpayer, as opposed to the ratepayer, should meet the cost of transitional relief. Accordingly, Clause 66 requires that the total rate yield for any year is not to be affected by a transitional scheme.

The clause allows for flexibility in how schemes may be structured so as to be self-financing. The methods likely to be used include having a transitional scheme which balances the rates lost through phasing in increases in bills against the rates gained by phasing in decreases. Such phasing of decreases in bills as well as increases has been the feature of past schemes.

In addition to providing for a scheme that balances rate income lost through phasing in increases and rate income gained through phasing in decreases, the clause allows for an addition to rates bills generally as a means of making good the loss of rates resulting from phasing in increases in bills. The notes look a lot easier on paper than they are to say, by the way. That means that my speech will look all right in Hansard. The clause allows for a scheme which is funded by a combination of phasing in decreases and an addition to rates bills generally. That will allow us to put in place a fair and workable scheme.

It would be simplest if I addressed the amendments in reverse order. Amendment No. 140A is designed to ensure that if over the life of the transitional scheme it turns out that the scheme is in fact not revenue neutral, but is producing a loss in rates revenue, the losses cannot be made good by adjustments to the scheme. In effect, the general taxpayer would have to make good the shortfall in funding for local government.

However, if a scheme is not revenue neutral, in that it is producing too much in rate revenue, Amendment No. 140A would allow for the scheme to be adjusted to recompense ratepayers. The amendment would therefore produce a one-way street unfair to the general taxpayer. The Bill as drafted would allow for a transitional scheme to be adjusted if it was producing either too much or too little in rates revenue. The Bill is therefore fair to both the ratepayer and the general taxpayer.

Amendment No. 140 seems to exclude from the scope of a future transitional scheme all ratepayers whose rates bills are unaffected by a revaluation. That would rule out an addition to rates bills generally as a means of paying for the relief for those facing increased bills at the revaluation. The amendment could in practice conflict with Amendment No. 139 as, by ruling out the possibility of an addition to rates bills generally, there might be no realistic way of making a scheme self-financing even over a five-year period, as proposed by Amendment No. 139.

If, as proposed in Amendment No. 139, a scheme were to be revenue neutral over a five-year period, instead of year by year as set out in the Bill, there would have to be a way by which the Treasury recovered in later years what it had paid in the early years. The Exchequer would also need to recover interest on what had been paid out in the early years of the scheme, and would need to recover a sum to offset the effects of inflation between paying out sums concerned and recovering them. All that would make for a complicated calculation—I am pleased to say that I do not have to explain it—which would introduce an element of uncertainty for ratepayers.

A five-year revenue-neutral scheme would be much more complicated to operate, and far less intelligible to the ratepayer than a scheme that was revenue neutral year by year. Furthermore, it is difficult to see any reason for such a scheme. Why should the general taxpayer in effect give a loan to ratepayers at the start of each transitional scheme?

When prices rise the customer has to pay the new price. When rents are increased the new rental is payable in full on the day it comes into force. Transitional relief means that we are easing the burden on ratepayers. We do not believe that the general taxpayer should cover the cost of that. It seems fair that ratepayers in general should pick up the bill. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot have transitional relief and expect someone else to pay for it. Advocates of these amendments seem to want the increases phased in slowly, the decreases phased out quickly or immediately, and the general taxpayer to pick up the bill in some years' time. That does not sound fair.

Despite past intentions of making transition schemes revenue-neutral, significant cost has been borne by the general taxpayer. We are determined to end that. The clearest way to do so is to ensure that the scheme is revenue-neutral in each year. We do not see how that can be objectionable to anyone. An attempt to make a scheme revenue-neutral over the five-year life of the list would mean that, at each revaluation, complex estimates would need to be made in advance of announcing any transition scheme.

If, at the end of the fourth year, it were discovered that the Treasury had not recouped the money that it had contributed in the early years, rates bills would have to he increased to balance the scheme. That would create uncertainty for the lifetime.

In the light of what I have said—more to the point, in the light of what I have read—I ask the noble Earl to withdraw his amendment.

7.30 p.m.

The Earl of Caithness

I did warn the Committee that this was heavy pounding. It is good stuff; we are just getting into the meat of rating now. It is such fun, is it not?

Lord Bassam of Brighton

May I intervene briefly? I am a very generous person, and I was hoping in a moment to go to the Peers' Guestroom to celebrate my 50th birthday, to which everyone is welcome. If the noble Earl intended to digress at length, can I urge him to he at least slightly briefer than he planned?

The Earl of Caithness

I was going to be brief. I was also going to congratulate the noble Lord on his birthday. It is nice that, for a change, we have so many Ministers who are younger than me. The times were when I was the youngest.

I wish to read what the noble Lord has said. I also request the chance to talk to him before the next stage. What he is producing is unfair to businesses and complicated. I believe that we can produce a scheme that is much fairer to businesses, fair to the Treasury, fair to the taxpayer and less complicated for businesses to understand. Those are two different points of view that we will not resolve in Committee. But, if we could meet before the next stage, we might be able to find common ground so that we could retain some of the flexibility that, I believe., the Government will need. I speak not with a party hat on, but with some experience.

When I was a Minister I remember using the same arguments and asking why the taxpayer should contribute to business matters. We found that it had to happen at some stage. If you take away that flexibility, you will handcuff yourselves and make life extremely difficult for yourselves.

From a business point of view, there is a greater certainty and ability to plan if there is five-year self-financing transitional relief rather than a one-year period. I know that the Minister is keen to be helpful. I am sure that he will try to find time in his busy diary.

Lord Rooker

For the avoidance of any doubt, Ministers are always happy to see Members of both Houses. I am not the policy Minister for this Bill. I cannot undertake negotiations about the Bill. The Minister for Local Government and the Regions and his colleagues are the policy Ministers. I will draw their attention to what the noble Earl has said. There have been constant meetings about business improvement districts. I do not want the noble Earl to think that I am being discourteous.

The Earl of Caithness

I understand the point entirely. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, would wish to attend any meeting, given her interest and support. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment and wish the noble Lord a happy birthday.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 140 and 140A not moved.]

Clause 66 agreed to.

Clause 67 agreed to.

Lord Rooker

This may be a convenient moment for the Committee to adjourn until Monday at 3.30 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

The Committee stands adjourned until Monday 16th June at 3.30 p.m.

Committee adjourned at twenty-six minutes before eight o'clock.