HL Deb 09 March 2005 vol 670 cc818-9

8.2 p.m.

Lord Rooker

rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 23 February be approved [10th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is not a set of regulations that I thought I would have to bring back to the House. Noble Lords will recall that we debated these regulations in some detail on 9 December last year. They brought into effect the transition scheme for the 2005 revaluation of non-domestic properties. I want to emphasise that tonight we are discussing businesses—that is, not dwellings or people's homes. The scheme phases in increases and reductions in rate bills for properties—that is, non-domestic properties—shown on the local ratings lists at 1 April 2005. The regulations provide authorities with the mechanism for calculating bills.

Regrettably there is an error that none of us spotted. In two places, references to 1 April 2000 should be 1 April 2005. The amendment before the House will correct that and ensure that the regulations are fully operable. We are also taking the opportunity to make two minor technical amendments. Again, those do not change the sense of the regulations but simply help to clarify interpretation.

The amendments rectify a drafting error and do not affect the policy intention behind the 2004 regulations that have already been debated and approved in both Houses. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 23 February be approved [10th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Rooker.)

Baroness Hanham

My Lords, there is a real temptation to go over the concerns and anxieties about those who are going to benefit from the reduction and about the delay in payments and a temptation to have another half-hour's debate. However, the Minister will be delighted to know that I shall not go over all that again, although possibly we shall have an opportunity to do so on another occasion. I understand that these regulations correct something which perhaps each of us should have noticed originally, and I have no objection to these technical amendments being made.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market

My Lords, not having been in the House or, indeed, on the Front Bench at the time, I can feel a certain amount of smugness on this issue. However, this is probably an occasion when it is better to take note of my mother's maxim of "least said, soonest mended", and so we are happy to support the regulations.

On Question, Motion agreed to.