§ Mr. Freud
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what aspects of current rating law have not been affected by the Sex Discrimination Act;
(2) how many representations he has had regarding the ruling that husbands and not wives should be treated as rateable occupiers of the hereditament by local authorities; and if he will make a statement;
(3) if he is satisfied that the reliance by local authorities on Beckwith v. Barnet UDC (1950) regarding the inability of a husband and wife to be joint occupiers of a house is consistent with Government policies regarding sex discrimination.
§ Mr. Oakes
I am advised that rating legislation is not affected by the Sex Discrimination Act. I have had very few representations on the subject of rateable occupation, but I am happy to make a statement. The present position is that 365W treatment of the husband as the rateable occupier is based on common law, not statute law, and goes back many years. The reason for choosing the husband is that in common law he has a duty to maintain his wife. We shall, in considering any changes as a result of the Layfield Report on Local Government Finance, look at the need for something more in line with the present climate of opinion.