§ 2.44 p.m.
My Lords, I beg to move that the Gas Boards (Rateable Values) Order, 1962, be approved. I hope your Lordships will also find it convenient if, in these brief introductory remarks, I also deal with the other Order, the Electricity Boards (Rateable Values) Order, 1962. Those of your Lordships who follow these matters closely may have observed that the Electricity Order was made on July 9, and the Gas Order on July 20. I should perhaps explain that an Order covering Gas Boards was originally made on July 9 as well. Unfortunately, at an early stage in the drafting two errors, one rather considerable and one very small, crept in, and these were detected only on July 20. As a result the original Order was withdrawn, and a new one was made on July 20. I trust this has not confused or inconvenienced your Lordships.
Yes, indeed. Briefly, these two Orders are made necessary by the general revaluation for rating purposes which is due to take effect next April. This revaluation is, of course, intended to take account of changes in the general level of rents since the last revaluation. Unless corresponding adjustments were made for the gas and electricity properties, which are not subject to the ordinary processes of revaluation, the two industries would enjoy a fortuitous windfall by way of a reduction in their rates.
To obviate this on a previous occasion, Parliament approved, in the Rating and Valuation Act, 1957, a 70 per cent. increase in the basic rateable values for the gas industry, that being the average increase in other rateable values as a result of the 1956 revaluation. The purpose of the present Order is to bring the gas rateable values up to the new levels of 1963. On this occasion your Lordships will observe that the increase which is proposed is some 87.6 per cent. This is the proportionate change in the net annual values of comparable properties moving on ordinary valuation processes 112 from 1956 levels to the 1963 levels as estimated by the Board of Inland Revenue. However, although gas and electricity rateable values are being increased by nearly 90 per cent. by this Order their total share of the rate burden is likely to fall by about 30 per cent. I should perhaps make clear that the circumstances of the Electricity Order are virtually the same as those of the Gas Order and the same considerations apply there.
Finally, I should make it clear that, of course, there have been the necessary statutory consultations with the associations of local authorities, with the London County Council, and with the Gas and the Electricity Councils. I think it is fair to claim that a broad measure of agreement has been reached, or at least, as the Opposition spokesman put it in another place, that "at least an equality of dissatisfaction" has been achieved between the two sides. I commend these two Orders to your Lordships as making fair and reasonable adjustments.
§ Moved, That the Gas Boards (Rateable Values) Order, 1962, be approved.—(Earl Jellicoe.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.