HC Deb 07 November 1940 vol 365 cc1461-2W
Sir J. Mellor

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider introducing legislation to exempt premises from rateability, notwithstanding that furniture remains, in respect of any period throughout which they continue to be evacuated by their occupiers, under order of the competent authority, owing to the proximity of time-bombs or to other war risks?

Sir R. Gower

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the action of local authorities in demanding rates in full unless the property has been bombed beyond repair, whereas in many cases tenants have vacated damaged but still habitable premises or in anticipation of the effects of a time-bomb have voluntarily left their homes and in all such cases are refusing to pay rent or are only paying partial rent; and whether, in view of the hardship on property owners forced to pay the rates without receiving rent, he will appoint a small committee to investigate the whole matter with a view to reaching a fair policy?

Mr. M. MacDonald

The periods for which premises have to be vacated owing to time-bombs, or for other reasons of war, and the circumstances in which the vacation takes place are so varied, that I do not as at present advised consider that any general exemption of the premises from rates during the period in question would prove a satisfactory solution of the problem, but I am having the whole matter further examined. I may add that under the existing law it is open to a rating authority to make a suitable reduction in the rate payable by a ratepayer whose premises are rendered temporarily unusable in the circumstances referred to by my hon. Friend, if they consider that, on account of poverty, payment of the full rate would involve hardship.