HC Deb 09 October 1940 vol 365 c388W
Sir L. Lyle

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the fact that some 2,000 summonses for the non-payment of rates have recently been served in Bournemouth; and whether he is yet in a position to indicate what assistance can be given to local authorities and ratepayers to remedy such situations as this in resorts in restricted areas?

Mr. M. MacDonald

I have seen Press reports on the matter referred to in the first part of the Question. As regards the position of local authorities, I would refer my hon. Friend to the pledge given on behalf of the Government that the Government would be prepared to come to the assistance of local government if they were unable to finance essential services from the normal sources and to the more detailed announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 5th September last with regard to the evacuation areas under the Defence (Evacuated Areas) Regulations, 1940. As regards the position of individual ratepayers, I would remind my hon. Friend that there is a moratorium in force in these special evacuation areas in respect of rates and of certain other kinds of debts, and in addition the provisions of the Courts (Emergency Powers) Acts, 1939 and 1940, apply to all areas. Further, local authorities have, under the ordinary law, a wide discretion to remit rates on the ground of poverty and under special war legislation the Scheme for the Prevention and Relief of Distress administered by the Assistance Board is available for persons who are in need as a result of the war.