HL Deb 19 July 1836 vol 35 cc307-10

On the motion of the Duke of Richmond, the House went into Committee on the Bill for Regulating Parochial Assessments.

On the first clause (which provides, that from and after the 21st day of March next after the passing of this act no rate shall be allowed by any justice which shall not be made upon an estimate of the net annual value of the several hereditaments rated thereunto) being read,

The Marquess of Salisbury

expressed his determination to oppose the clause, as not likely to produce any real benefit, while the machinery which would be necessary for carrying the new valuation into effect would be troublesome and ex-pensive.

The Duke of Richmond

contended, that the Bill would be extremely beneficial, inasmuch as it would put an end to those unequal and often fraudulent assessments which were complained of under the existing system.

The Marquess of Salisbury

believed, that fraudulent assessments could not easily be effected when the amount of rent was known.

The Duke of Richmond

said, it was impossible that the poor-rates could be fairly levied on a parish unless some measure of this kind were adopted. At present, the overseers made the rate as they thought fit, and the magistrates signed it ministerially. If its correctness were disputed, justice could only be procured by a tedious process; whereas the Bill provided that the justices should assemble at least four times a-year in petty sessions, for the purpose of hearing complaints.

The Earl of Liverpool

opposed the clause. If the actual rent were known, the overseer would, of course, as the law now stood, apportion the rate accordingly.

The Duke of Richmond

contended, that the rate ought to be founded on the net annual value. The Bill, in fact, only compelled the overseers to do that which they ought to do at present—namely, to make a rate equally and fairly.

Lord Wynford

supported the Bill, as calculated to remedy a great public grievance. The first clause contained the principle of the measure. That principle was admitted when the Bill was read a second time, and if the clause was now lost they would abandon the principle to which they had previously agreed.

Lord Ellenborough

approved of the third clause which provided for appeal to the justices assembled in petty sessions; but the question was, whether it would be expedient, at the present moment, to pass the two first clauses, enacting that rates should be made on the net annual value of the property, and prescribing the form in which the rate shall be made. That they ought to come at last to the principle recognized by the first clause he admitted, for he believed that great irregularity prevailed in assessing the value of property in different parts of the country, the estimate being sometimes one-half and sometimes one-third of the real value. The country was, however, accustomed to the system, and it could not be altered immediately without great inconvenience. There would be very great difficulty in making the valuation according to the provisions of this Bill; for it was set forth, that the rate "shall be made upon an estimate of the net annual value of the several hereditaments—that is to say, of the rent at which the same might reasonably be expected to let from year to year, deducting there from the probable average annual cost of the repairs, insurance, and other expenses, if any, necessary to maintain them in a state to command such rent" He conceived that it would be almost impossible for an overseer to form an accurate judgment upon all these points. Now, though he was not opposed to the principle of the measure, yet it struck him that the mode proposed for carrying it into effect was not precisely the one that ought to be adopted. By the Tithe Bill, which stood for consideration this evening, it was provided that a new valuation should be made; and he thought that it would be better to wait until that provision was carried into effect. He was therefore of opinion, that the 3rd and 4th Clauses, should be passed, and the 1st and 2d (for he did not object to the principle) postponed until the valuation was taken under the Tithe Commutation Bill.

Lord Kenyon

conceived that overseers ought to be compelled to make a fair return. That could be done under this Bill, with very little expense or trouble, and that injustice would be avoided which had hitherto been complained of. He hoped that they would not reject the principle of the measure by the omission of these two clauses.

The Earl of Ripon

, was opposed to the clause.

Lord Wharncliffe

, adverting to the mode in which it was proposed that overseers should frame the estimate, contended that it was so intricate that they would be incapable of making a correct estimate. It would, therefore, be necessary for them to call in other parties to their assistance, and thus a great expense would be incurred.

The Duke of Richmond

repeated, that the Bill only compelled overseers to do that which they ought to do at present—namely, to make a fair and just rate. Instead of the assessment being fairly levied, it varied in many places from one-fifth of the net value up to the full amount of rack-rent.

Their Lordships divided on the original clause—Contents 31; Not-contents 28—Majority 3.

List of the CONTENTS.
Lord Chancellor VISCOUNTS.
Argyll Melbourne
Buccleuch LORDS.
Richmond Ashburton
Conyngham Dinorben
Lansdowne Dacre
EARLS. Hatherton
Albemarle Kenyon
Brownlow Lilford
Burlington Plunkett
Chichester Strafford
Granville Seaford
Minto Templemore
Morley Wynford
Ripon Bristol

Clauses agreed to.

The House resumed; the report to be received.