§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Lord Lucas rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17th January be approved [6th Report from the Joint Committee].
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of these regulations is to increase, from £70 to £115, the statutory fee for the appointment by the President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors of agricultural arbitrators, or persons to make a record of the condition of an agricultural holding.
§ The current fee of £70 is prescribed by the Agricultural Holdings (Fee) Regulations 1985 and has been in place since 1st January 1986. That is the date on which the function of appointing arbitrators, and persons to make a record of the condition of a holding, under the 1986 Act was transferred from the Ministry to the RICS. The RICS agreed to hold the fee at the same level for at least five years from the date it was introduced. In the 10 years that have elapsed since the fee was first prescribed by regulation, the RICS has faced substantial increases in the costs of providing the service, exceeding annual levels of inflation. The institution has now applied for an increase in the fee to £115. The intention is that the new fee will take effect from 1st March this year. The agricultural industry organisations have been consulted on the proposed increase, which has been widely accepted. The case presented by the RICS for the revised fee has been carefully examined. I am satisfied that £115 is a fair and reasonable fee. I ask your Lordships to approve the regulations. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17th January be approved [6th Report from the Joint Committee.]—(Lord Lucas.)
§ Lord Carter
My Lords, the House will be extremely grateful to the Minister for explaining this measure. As he said, there has not been an increase for 10 years. We understand the increase in costs that the RICS has to bear. I believe that the measure has to apply only to the RICS; otherwise, the actual wording of the 1986 Act would have to be altered. That wording requires the president of the RICS to act in this way. It is a 64 per cent. increase over the 10 years compared to an RPI of 53 per cent. However, I am sure that the Government have looked hard at the arguments that the RICS has produced for increasing the fee. We certainly agree with the measure.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.