§ Lord MELCHETT rose to move, That the draft Rates Amendment (Northern Ireland) Order 1977, laid before the House on 1st February, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the draft Rates Amendment (Northern Ireland) Order. The purpose of the short order before your Lordships tonight is to amend the law in Northern Ireland relating to rates and the valuation of property for rating purposes and also to achieve broad uniformity with the law in England.
§ Three main changes are proposed in the order: first, to extend domestic rate aid to apply to the private dwelling part of premises used partly for residential purposes and partly for other purposes; second, to give a right of appeal on the question whether rates on premises used 836 for recreational purposes are subject to reduction; and, third, to allow rate relief for charity shops. Several amendments related to or in consequence of these changes, together with others of a comparatively minor and unrelated nature, are provided for in the order. These include the arrangements for paying rates by instalments, the right to discount on rates, the correction of clerical errors in the valuation list, rectifying minor in correct use of language and removal of industrial derating from any part of an industrial hereditament which is used for the purposes of a private dwelling. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the draft Rates Amendment (Northern Ireland) Order 1977, laid before the House on 1st February, be approved.—(Lord Melchett.)
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for his explanation of this order. There are two points I should like to raise. The first is on recreation. I believe that some recreation centres, particularly the indoor centres, find it intolerably difficult because they are charities to raise the money to meet their rates. Secondly, may I ask whether the local traders are being fairly treated? Added to the difficulties of inflation they have the problem of bombings and window smashing affecting their trade. I wonder whether those two points should not be looked at more sympathetically. I believe the noble Lord said that there was a right of appeal on recreational grounds. If that is the case, I welcome it; but I should like to feel that the local traders could also have a right of appeal. Other than that, I will not detain your Lordships.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, the noble Viscount is quite right in saying that this order introduces a right of appeal which will lie to the Lands Tribunal for Northern Ireland on the question of whether an hereditament is entitled to recreational rating relief. As the noble Lord may know, Article 4 of the 1975 Order inserted in the 1972 Order a new article which provided for rating relief for certain recreational hereditaments. It is the purpose of Article 4 in this order to give a right of appeal where the occupier of such a premises is not satisfied with the extent of rating provision incurred. I think that the noble Viscount's point is probably met by that.
837 The noble Viscount also raised the question of the rating of commercial and industrial premises. As he knows, this is a matter which has given grounds for some concern in Northern Ireland. It will be very difficult to attempt to compare the position in Great Britain with that in Northern Ireland. It will be a very complex operation, and no attempt has been made to do this. However, a Working Party, which includes representatives appointed by the Association of District Councils, is examining the method of striking the regional rate in Northern Ireland. They will be considering, among other things, the aspect of comparability with Great Britain and, in particular, the comparability of the rating of industrial and commercial premises. The report of this Working Party is expected later this year. Hopefully, that will have something constructive to say on the problem which the noble Viscount mentioned.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.