HL Deb 07 March 1991 vol 526 cc1560-1

7.38 p.m.

The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne rose to move that the draft orders laid before the House on 24th January be approved.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, the rateable values for the operational property of various utilities and undertakings are prescribed by the Secretary of State. These rateable values required to be re-assessed with effect from 1st April 1990, the date of the general revaluation of all non-domestic properties.

Your Lordships had the opportunity some time ago to debate the orders relating to most of the relevant industries. In the case of the electricity industry, however, the date of the revaluation coincided with that for the vesting of the property of the former Scottish electricity boards in their three successor companies—Scottish Power, Scottish Hydro Electric and Scottish Nuclear. This transfer of property required to be reflected in the rating assessments and resulted in an extended consultation with the companies.

We are also committed to bringing the valuation of independent generators of electricity into line with that for the supply companies in the interests of fair competition. Consultations have been conducted with representatives of the independent generators on the proposed method of assessment and the criteria for inclusion within the new arrangements. These consultations are required to await finalisation of our proposals in respect of the electricity companies.

In drafting these orders we have sought to arrive at levels of assessment consistent with those that might have been reached by conventional means and at the same time to harmonise our approach with that adopted south of the Border. Orders relating to the valuation of the corresponding undertakings in England and Wales have already been approved.

The assessments and provisions contained in these orders are the result of extensive discussions with representatives of the supply industry and of independent generators, with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and with the Scottish Assessors' Association. The orders have also been the subject of formal consultation. I believe that they represent fair and reasonable assessments for the industry.

Moved, That the draft orders laid before the House on 24th January be approved [8th Report from the Joint Committee. —(The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.)

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for his explanation of the orders. It has given me a better understanding of what is involved. I have taken advice upon the orders and I understand that there are no objections from CoSLA or any of the other bodies concerned. It is also important, as the noble Earl said, that the electricity generators are being brought into the same scheme of valuation in order, as he correctly pointed out, to ensure that there will be a level playing field for competition. As I said, no representations have been made to me as regards any objections. Accordingly, I am happy to accept the orders.

The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, for his remarks. I commend the four orders to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Viscount Long

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.5 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The sitting was suspended from 7.42 to 8.5 p.m.]