HC Deb 02 July 2003 vol 408 cc339-40W
Mr. Dodds

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to de-rate Orange Halls in Northern Ireland. [122637]

Mr. Pearson

Existing legislation in Northern Ireland allows a measure of rate relief on any hall where the wider community uses the facilities. Typically uses such as Sunday schools, community based youth clubs, OAP clubs, playgroups and church meetings are considered `charitable' and apportioned out as exempt. The degree of relief available is in direct proportion to the use of the facility for charitable and broad community purposes. There is no upper limit on the amount of relief available if the relevant criteria are satisfied.

I can confirm that existing reliefs, including that which allows exemption from rates for properties used for public, charitable and certain other functions such as 'public religious worship', are currently under consideration within the context of the Review of Rating Policy. No decisions have yet been taken. It is intended to address these issues in a policy paper to be published later this year.

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