HL Deb 23 July 1874 vol 221 cc543-6

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 (Valuation and rating of rights of shooting. &c.).


said, that the clause provided that in cases where the owner let a farm and reserved to himself the shooting over it, the Assessment Committee should rate that farm as if the right of sporting was unsevered from it, and the tenant should have a deduction in the assessment to the amount of the value of the right of "sporting." It seemed to him impossible that the clause could be workable in its present form. There was no criterion of the monetary value of the privilege of shooting over a particular farm, and therefore it was impossible to rate it. The right of shooting over 2,000 acres in a particular county might be very valuable, but the right of shooting over only 200 acres of those 2,000 might be worthless. The majority of tenant-farmers would pay no additional rent for the right of shooting over their land. The proper way to assess such a farm as that contemplated by the clause, was to assess it at its highest agricultural value, and he should move an Amendment to that effect.

An Amendment moved after ("estimated") to insert the words ("at its highest agricultural value.")—(The Marquess of Bath.)


said, it would have been more convenient if his noble Friend had given Notice of an Amendment which, if adopted, would practically defeat the Bill. He understood his noble Friend to say, on the second reading, that he approved the principle of the Bill; but the words he now proposed to insert could not be introduced in a rating clause which had come up from the Commons.


concurred with his noble Friend (the Marquess of Bath) in thinking the clause unworkable. He thought the proposition itself was objectionable, and that his noble Friend the Lord President ought to consider whether he should not withdraw the clause altogether.


said, that having acted as Chairman of an Assessment Committee for a long time, he thought there would be great difficulty in carrying this clause into operation. The clause held out a premium to the Assessment Committees to put the highest value upon game, because the higher the assessment for game the greater deduction there would be from the rent of the tenants.


said, the noble Marquess proposed to alter the clause by inserting certain words; but the noble Lord (Lord Hampton) opposed the principle of the clause. But that was not the question before the Committee. The Committee had already decided it; because they had agreed to Clause 3, and thereby affirmed that it was expedient to extend the assessment to the right of sporting, when it was severed from the occupation of land. As to the Amendment proposed by the noble Marquess, it was impossible, consistently with the relations which prevailed between their Lordships' House and the House of Commons, that their Lordships should pick and choose out the subjects of assessment in a rating Bill. For that reason the proposition was one to which their Lordships should not accede. But supposing it to be adopted, it would make the Bill infinitely more injurious than, according to the noble Marquess, it was at present; because, first, the Assessment Committee would assess the farm at its highest agricultural value; and then they could not stop there, for the words "as if the rights of sporting were not severed" would remain in the clause, and that right would have to be assessed. The result would be that the assessment would be at the highest agricultural value, plus an assessment on account of game, which deteriorated the agricultural value of the farm.


said, he agreed to the clause as it stood; but contended that the House had a right to reject it, or any part of it, if they should think fit to do so. He had been chairman of the Board of Guardians for some years, and occasionally attended an Assessment Committee, and he did not anticipate so much difficulty as some noble Lords seemed to feel in carrying out the clause.


expressed a hope that the Government would withdraw the clause; but if they did not, then that the noble Marquess would proceed to a division.


pointed out that where an owner of land was also the occupier, he was at present without doubt liable to be assessed for the right of sporting; that where an owner was also the occupier and he let the right of sporting, he was assessable for the right of sporting; but where he was owner and not occupier, but reserved the light of sporting, there was no assessment; and it was to meet that case that this clause had been inserted in the Bill. The clause had undergone very great consideration both in the last and present Sessions of Parliament, being practically the same clause as was included in the Bill of the late Government. It would be impossible for him, if he withdrew the clause, to bring forward another that would be more satisfactory on that subject. What would be the position of that House in the opinion of the other House of Parliament and the country if they were to deal with that clause in the manner which had been suggested? The House of Commons had agreed that woods hitherto not in-eluded within the area of rateability should henceforth be assessed to rates, and their Lordships had adopted that proposal. The same was the case with regard to mines; not a word had been said in their Lordships' House against assessing mines, and the Bill as far as related to mines and woods would go down to the other House untouched. Would it not, therefore, be said in the country—"Here is a House composed of noble Lords, many of whom are attached to sporting, and the moment you touch that which affects the right of sporting which they enjoy, they immediately cry out and wish to have sporting taken out of the Bill." It would be unfortunate if their Lordships, when dealing with several descriptions of property hitherto exempted from rating, were to strike out of the measure the particular description with which they were thought to be more intimately connected. He could not, therefore, withdraw the clause, and he regretted that he would be compelled to say "Not content" to the Motion of the noble Marquess.


quite saw the difficulty which the noble Duke had pointed out, and would regret very much that anything should happen that was injurious to the Bill. The other subsections of the clause were exceedingly good; but he objected to the clause as it now stood because it imposed on the Assessment Committee a duty which they could not possibly discharge—namely, to declare the rateable value of a thing which practically did not exist, or which practically had no rateable value. The land was of value to the tenant for agricultural purposes, and the right of sporting over the land was of value to the sportsman for sporting purposes; but the great body of the tenant-farmers of England would not be disposed to give anything for the right of sporting over the land.


remarked that if an Assessment Committee were called upon to assess the rateable value of that which had no such value, there would be no rating or assessment at all in the case supposed.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 15; Not-Contents 51: Majority 36.

Resolved in the Negative.


pointed out that in the Bill of last Session there was a sub-section giving the power of appeal to the Courts of Quarter Sessions; but there was no such provision in the present Bill.


said, the provision in question was not necessary. That was not a taxing Bill, and after it had passed there would be the same right of appeal that existed at the present time.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment; and to be read 3a To-morrow.