TUESDAY, 17th MARCH, 1925.47
The Committee consisted of the following Members:
Sir Robert Sanders (Chairman)
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel (Tiverton)
Ainsworth, Major (Bury)
Alexander, Mr. A. V. (Hillsborough)
*Attorney-General, The (St. Marylebone)
Barker, Mr. (Abertillery)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral (Lewes)
Beckett, Mr. John (Gateshead)
Bourne, Captain (Oxford)
Briggs, Mr. (Blackley)
Brown, Major Clifton (Hexham)
*Bull, Sir William (Hammersmith, S.)
*Chamberlain, Mr. Neville (Ladywood)
Clayton, Mr. (Widnes)
Cluse, Mr. (Islington, S.)
Craig, Mr. Ernest (Crewe)
Croft, Brigadier-General, Sir Henry Page (Bournemouth)
Davies, Major George (Yeovil)
Dennison, Mr. (King's Norton)
Edwards, Mr. Hugh (Accrington)
Fairfax, Captain (Norwich)
Falle, Major Sir Bertram (Portsmouth, N.)
*Garro-Jones, Captain (Hackney, S.)
*Gault, Lieut.-Colonel (Taunton)
Grenfell, Mr. David (Gower)
Grotrian, Mr. (Kingston-upon-Hull, S.W.)
*Guinness, Mr. (Bury St. Edmunds)
Gunston, Captain (Thornbury)
Hall, Captain W. D'Arcy (Brecon and Radnor)
Hartington, Marquess of (Derbyshire, W.)
Henderson, Lieut.-Colonel V. L. (Bootle)
Hirst, Mr. W. (Wentworth)
Hudson, Mr. Robert (Whitehaven)
Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander (Hull, Central)
*Lansbury, Mr. (Bow and Bromley)
Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Makins, Brigadier-General (Knutsford)
March, Mr. (Poplar, S.)
Milne, Mr. Wardlaw- (Kidderminster)
Morrison, Mr. Hugh (Salisbury)
Nuttall, Mr. (Birkenhead, W.)
Peto, Mr. Basil (Barnstaple)
Sandeman, Mr. (Middleton and Prestwich)
Scurr, Mr. (Mile End)
Simms, Mr. (Down)
Smith, Mr. Rennie (Penistone)
Smithers, Mr. (Chislehurst)
Somerville, Mr. Annesley (Windsor)
Taylor, Mr. (Lincoln)
Thompson, Mr. Luke (Sunderland)
Tinne, Mr. (Wavertree)
*Vaughan-Morgan, Colonel (Fulham, E.)
Waddington, Mr. (Rossendale)
Ward, Lieut.-Colonel John (Stoke-on-Trent)
Warner, Brigadier-General (Bradford, Mid.)
Watson, Sir Francis (Pudsey and Otley)
Watts, Dr. (Withington)
*Webb, Mr. (Seaham)
Williams, Commander Charles (Torquay)
Williams, Mr. John (Llanelly)
*Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
* Added in respect of the Valuation (Metropolis) Bill.—March 17, 1925.
SIR J. S. HORSBRUGH-PORTER Committee Clerks.
CAPTAIN C. R. P. DIVER Committee Clerks.48 49 STANDING COMMITTEE A Tuesday, 17th March, 1925.
[Sir ROBERT SANDERS in the Chair.]
(1) The Valuation (Metropolis) Act, 1869 (in this Act referred to as "the principal Act"), shall, for the purpose of the making of the valuation list thereunder which will come into force on the sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-six and for the purpose of the revision of that list, have effect as if for the Third Schedule to the principal Act (which Schedule shows the several classes into which the hereditaments inserted in a valuation list under the principal Act are to be divided and the maximum rate of deductions which may be allowed for the purpose of ascertaining rateable value) there were as respects the classes of hereditaments therein numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (including houses and buildings let out in separate tenements), substituted the provisions contained in Part I of the Schedule to this Act:
(2) Where the amount of the rateable value calculated in accordance with the provisions of the principal Act, as amended by this Act, includes a fraction of a pound, that fraction shall be disregarded and the amount to be entered in the draft valuation list or in the valuation list recorded accordingly."
Colonel VAUGHAN-MORGAN: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "list" ["revision of that list"], to insert the words "(but not including the making of a new valuation list)." This is a drafting Amendment, the purpose of which is to provide that this Bill shall apply to the quinquennial valuation which is to take place in 1926, and its subsequent revisions under the various Sections of the Act of 1869, but so that, whereas it applies to the revisions belonging to that quinquennial period, it does not apply at the present moment, so far as this is concerned, to any subsequent quinquennial period. The wording of the Bill may be held to cover that point, but for the purpose of greater clearness I beg to move my Amendment.
Mr. SIDNEY WEBB: May I, with your permission, Mr. Chairman, suggest that, as we had very little time on the Second Reading of this Bill in the House, and the Bill was allowed to go to Committee because it was urgent, we might, I do not say have a Second Reading discussion now, but an opportunity of getting a little general explanation, because I, personally, am very much at sea, and confess that I cannot understand the Bill. I do not think I am very much to blame for that, as it is an extremely obscure Bill, and I wanted to appeal to you, Sir, as to whether you could not allow the Minister of Health to diverge a little from the Amendment, in order really to help us to understand the Bill, not with any view of taking up time, but rather with a view to saving time.51
The CHAIRMAN: I do not know which would be the most convenient way, but if the Minister would make an explanation on this Amendment, I should not raise any objection to his doing so.
The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Neville Chamberlain): It seems rather an unusual request, and I should have thought that the proper time for further elucidation of any points upon which my right hon. Friend feels some doubt was on the Third Reading, in so far as those points do not arise in consequence of any Amendments which are to be moved. I feel some difficulty in branching out on an Amendment dealing with a specific point, in a specific Clause, into a general disquisition on the Bill, and I do not quite see how I can assist my right hon. Friend.
The CHAIRMAN: It would be quite in order on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: If my right hon. Friend would give me some indication as to the points on which he desires further information, I should be only too glad, on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part", to be of assistance.
Mr. WEBB: The Bill is a short one, consisting of but one operative Clause, and when we come to the question "That the Clause stand part", we shall have lost our opportunity of getting any explanations of points already passed.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: You will have an opportunity on the Report stage.
Mr. WEBB: But we do not, I assume, want to take up the time of the House on the Report stage with what could be done in Committee. May I take the opportunity of asking some questions now?
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: Would not the proper time be on the Motion "That the Clause stand part"?
The CHAIRMAN: As a matter of fact, the most important part of the Bill is in the Schedule, and that will not have been put when the Question, "That the Clause stand part", arises.
Mr. WEBB: Perhaps I can ask what I wish to ask on this particular Amendment which, after all, is designed to define the operation of the whole Bill. It will con- 52 fine the operation to the valuation lists now about to be made, and the relatively minor revisions, and it seems to me relevant that I should ask certain general questions now. If the Bill is going to be limited in time, or if it is not going to be limited in time, these questions become equally important. This is a Bill for introducing a new definition of rateable value, a new way of arriving at rateable value. I do not see quite—I ask the question—how this affects the general law. By the judicial decision of the House of Lords, the deductions from the gross to arrive at the rateable value are actually defined as the probable actual cost of the repairs, insurance, and other expenses, if any, necessary to maintain the hereditaments in—
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: On a point of Order. I am sorry to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but I feel bound to challenge his raising this wide question on this specific Amendment.
The CHAIRMAN: It cannot be in order on this Amendment, and I have already pointed out that the appropriate opportunity would be on the Motion "That the Clause stand part." This is merely a drafting Amendment.
Mr. WEBB: I bow to your ruling, Sir, but may I ask how we can do it, because, when the Clause stands part, there will be practically no more in the Bill? Clause 1 takes everything except the Title, and when you put the Question "That the Clause stand part," it will be quite impossible even to make the smallest Amendment in the Bill, because you will have got the whole Bill, except that we might alter the Title.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: There is the Schedule.
Mr. WEBB: Yes, there is still the Schedule, but the question I am putting is not on any particular deduction, but on how the proposed maximum deduction will square with the existing law.
Sir WILLIAM BULL: Has the right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) read the Second Reading Debate?
Mr. WEBB: I was present.
Sir W. BULL: On that occasion the Minister of Health made a very clear and lucid statement of the whole principles of 53 the Bill, and if the right hon. Member will get a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT and see that Second Reading speech, in which the Minister assumed that none of us knew anything about valuation at all, and went through every detail of it, it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman might there find an answer to all his questions and let us get on with this Amendment.
Mr. WEBB: As a matter of fact, I was present, and I heard the very lucid statement of the right hon. Gentleman, but, at the same time, even that lucid statement did not cover all the questions which some of us want to ask, and I am now only sorry that we did not have a longer Debate on the Second Reading, when we might have asked some of these questions.
The CHAIRMAN: At all events, it is quite clear that on none of these Amendments can a Second Reading Debate take place.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I only rise to say that this Amendment, which, as the mover of it said, is a drafting Amendment, appears to me to be a useful one, because, although I think the Bill as it is drawn would cover the point which my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind, namely, that the valuation list which is contemplated here was only to be the Valuation for the ensuing quinquennium and not for any future periods, yet the inclusion of his Amendment will make that absolutely beyond all possible doubt, and I propose, therefore, to accept it.
Amendment agreed to.
Colonel VAUGHAN-MORGAN: I beg to move—
Mr. WEBB: Before the next Amendment on the Order Paper is moved, may I raise a point on the operative words in regard to the Schedule of the principal Act?
The CHAIRMAN: Do you move anything?
Mr. WEBB: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "(which Schedule shows the several classes into which the hereditaments inserted in a valuation list under the principal Act are to be divided and the maximum rate of deductions which may be allowed for the purpose of ascertaining rateable value.)" 54 I do not want to be factious, but I am trying to get in order so as to ask my question. The Schedule, the definition of which I propose to omit, gives a new scale of deductions for rateable value.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: No; I think the right hon. Gentleman is in error. The Schedule, the description of which he is moving to leave out, is the Third Schedule to the principal Act.
Mr. WEBB: Quite so, and may I say that, if you leave out that Schedule, you are altering the maximum deduction on which you arrive at the rateable value, and it is on this point that I want to raise my question.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: The words which the right hon. Gentleman wishes to omit are merely a description of the particular Schedule mentioned in the Clause. He is moving to leave out the description of that Schedule. That may add somewhat to the obscurity of the Clause, but it will not do what the right hon. Gentleman thinks it will.
Mr. WEBB: I would appeal to the Minister, who, I am sure, does not want to prevent these questions being asked.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I desire to act within the strict limits of order.
Mr. WEBB: I desire to move, in Sub-section (1), to omit the words "substituted the provisions contained in Part I of the Schedule to this Act."
The CHAIRMAN: Simply to move that, makes nonsense.
Mr. WEBB: I do not want to contend with the right hon. Gentleman, if he cannot see his way to enable me to raise the question.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: It does not lie with me at all.
Colonel VAUGHAN-MORGAN: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1b), after the word "may" ["per cent., there may"], to insert the words "instead of the deduction at the rate authorised by Part I of the said Schedule." This, again, is a drafting Amendment designed to make it clear that where the maximum deduction under Part I is more favourable than that under Part II of the Schedule, the former deduction can be 55 made. This really deals with a point which was raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) on the Second Reading Debate, and I think will probably cover the point which he intended at that time to raise.
Mr. WEBB: I do not rise to oppose the Amendment, because I agree that it makes it, perhaps, slightly more clear, though it is not, perhaps, absolutely necessary. That is quite a legitimate desire in this particular Bill, but if you are going to substitute one series of deductions to arrive at the rateable value for another, surely I may raise, on that, the question of whether these particular deductions are the right deductions. I ask that question, and I ask what will be the result of the provisions of this particular Schedule, one of which may be substituted for the other. On that, I think I shall not be doing wrong if I ask how far it is intended or possible for this maximum rate of deduction, whichever one you take, to be automatically, in practice, adopted in all cases. I apologise for mentioning it, but very nearly 50 years ago I actually did make a valuation, under the Valuation (Metropolis) Act, of a large part of London, extending all the way from the Thames to the Crystal Palace—not the whole of the south side, but a large slice of it—and at that time I was acting as surveyor of taxes, and I can assure the Committee that it was a most prodigious work to do. In practice, the maximum deduction from the rateable value was allowed. As far as I remember, there were some 40,000 hereditaments. I was dealing with them for gross value; at the present time the surveyor of taxes is equally concerned with the rateable value, but at that time I was not concerned with rateable value. At the same time, I had to see the whole thing, examine every return, and go through the whole lot, and, as a matter of practice, the maximum deduction was allowed, as far as I remember, in every case. It was taken as a matter of course that the maximum deduction from the gross value permitted in the Acts should be allowed, in order to arrive at the rateable value. In that little experience, I do not believe any other course could practically have been adopted. Having to deal in 56 London with something like three quarters of a million or a million hereditaments, in an extremely short time, I think you will in practice get the maximum deduction from the gross in nearly every case. That being so, you will get a very much larger deduction made than appears to be justified by the strict law in a great many cases. To begin with, these deductions start from an addition of 40 per cent. to the gross value as it stood in 1915, apparently, of course, because 40 per cent. is the maximum addition allowed under the Rent Restrictions Acts, in substance, but, as a matter of fact, if my information is at all correct, that 40 per cent. has not been made to the rent in all cases. In a large number of cases very much less than 40 per cent. has been made, and in a small number of cases there has been no addition to the rent at all, so I am told. Another thing I want to ask is this: That 40 per cent. was not in respect of repairs. Only 25 per cent. of it was in respect of repairs, I believe, and, consequently, it is quite open to question whether the whole 40 per cent. could be legally added to every rent. I think it could not. It depends on the amount of rates and that sort of thing, I suppose, but here we are going to start with the assumption that 40 per cent. has been added to the rent in every case, and I believe that in a large number of cases it has not been so added. Consequently, the owner of that property who is paying the rates will obtain a much larger deduction from his rateable value than would have been the case, as I understand, if the whole complication of the Rent Restrictions Acts had not come up. That is one of the inquiries which I wish to make. I wish to raise another question also, and that is what seems to me the practical impossibility of getting this complicated Schedule adopted in time. It is absolutely necessary that the local authorities should be in a position to levy their rates on the new valuation on the 1st April, and my experience is that, even without this huge complication, it has proved impossible in a number of cases to get the valuation lists ready in time. The dates, of course, begin March this year, this very month, and there are various stages, and I believe that a large number of the owners will not discover this new valua- 57 tion until the re-deposit of the lists, and then there will be an enormous number of appeals, a far greater number than has ever been known before, and I cannot see how the work will be done in time. What I am leading up to is this: Has it been considered—I suppose it must have been, but we have not had it explained—exactly why the proposals of the local authorities which they made at the London County Council in November last, I think, have been turned down and this more complicated Schedule suggested? At that time they suggested a very simple scale, which was very likely too simple. I am quite prepared to be instructed on the subject. It gave 33½ per cent. for the small houses, 25 per cent. for the next, 20 per cent. for the next, and 16⅔ per cent. for the next, rather comparable to the previous law, and for some reason—I have no doubt a very good reason—that has been found not to work properly, but I have not been able to understand why, and I protest that this complicated Schedule is going to cause a perfectly enormous amount of trouble. I do not think it is likely to be done in time, and I am afraid it will work great hardship. As a matter of fact, the assessment under the old Acts never was done in time. There were always some local authorities who had not been able to complete their lists in time, and, therefore, I feel convinced that this will be even worse, and substantially, of course, it will alter the terms of a very large number of small occupiers and owners of house property, and will, I think, alter them adversely to them. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to see if he can make me understand why this change is made.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: My right hon. Friend has certainly made a very considerable excursion into a Second Reading Debate on this very limited Amendment, but as you, Mr. Chairman, have not ruled him out of order, perhaps I may take the opportunity of answering him now, and be excused from repeating what I say now on the Motion "That the Clause stand part."
Mr. WEBB: Hear, hear!
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: All the points that have been raised by the right hon. Gentleman are based upon a misunderstanding of the terms of the Bill, and I feel that I am entitled to complain that 58 the right hon. Gentleman, with his brilliant intellectual capacity, has not sat down and studied the terms of the Bill for half an hour, in order to find out for himself what really are the provisions of the Bill, because his observations show that he has not mastered the very fundamental basis of it. What has he been telling us? He has been telling us that we have proceeded on the assumption that all rents have been raised by 40 per cent. As a matter of fact, that assumption is incorrect, and some rents have been raised by more than 40 per cent. and others by less. The increases have varied, and, consequently, where the rent has not been increased by 40 per cent., but by 30 per cent. or 25 per cent., the deductions allowed will be unduly high, and the person who is liable for rates will pay at a lower poundage than if we had not gone in for this complicated Schedule. That is the first point of the right hon. Gentleman. I must refer him to paragraph (a) which, of course, we are not discussing on this Amendment. Paragraph (a) contains a formula which I endeavoured to make clear to the House on the Second Reading of the Bill. I am grieved and hurt to find that, after all the pains I took to make the purpose of the formula clear, I have not succeeded in penetrating the right hon. Gentleman's brain in the very slightest degree. It may be that it was my fault, and I am not very sanguine of being able to produce a better impression now than I did then. However, I will have another try. We do not contemplate that in every case rents have been increased by exactly 40 per cent., or that the assessments will be raised to correspond with the 40 per cent. increase in rent. We do contemplate that there will be a difference which will be made in the valuation, and the Clause we have put in here is designed to meet that difficulty. You have, as I said on the Second Reading, two taxing authorities who are interested in this matter. You have the national taxes and the local taxes; the surveyor of taxes and the rating authority. They are both interested, but their interests are not identical. It is not true, as the right hon. Gentleman has said—I am surprised that he should make the mistake—that the surveyor of taxes is interested in rateable values. It does not matter to him a bit. He is interested in gross value, and in his own scale of deductions which 59 are laid down by the Finance Act. He is quite independent of all this. All he wants is to be certain that he is not cheated of his gross value. It is not the surveyor of taxes who makes the valuation; it is the rating authority. The surveyor of taxes has the power of appealing against the valuation that has been fixed by the rating authority, if he is not satisfied that his interests are being looked after, and that the gross assessment is not being put lower than it ought to be. On the other hand, look now at the rating authority, the local authorities. To them it does not matter what the gross value is. All they are concerned with is the rateable value. If the result of raising rateable value is to raise rates, the landlord who is liable for the rates will pass them on, as he can do, under the Rent Restrictions Act, and thus increase the rates of the tenant. If the rateable value is increased in such a way as to put up the rates, the tenant is the man who will have to pay, and he will have to pay without any increase in his ability to pay or in the benefits he is receiving. Rating authorities do not desire to see that. This is the point of view which they may be supposed to take. They say, "If our tenants are not going to be obliged to pay higher rates than they did before, one of two things must happen; either the deductions from the gross value must be sufficient to bring out the rateable value at the same level as before, or we must reduce the gross value—and then similar deductions will produce the same result." Supposing they take the latter course, and put the assessments lower than they should do in order to preserve the position of their tenants. It is all right for them, but it is going to upset the surveyor of taxes, because it is going to reduce his gross value. Therefore, what we want to do is to arrange our new provision, so that there shall be no temptation to local rating authorities to reduce the gross value below what it ought to be, and below what the surveyor of taxes desires it to be. We have drawn this complicated Clause, which appears to be such a stumbling-block to the right hon. Gentleman—not because he is incapable of understanding it, but, probably, because he has not tried to understand it—in order that if any 60 local rating authority did succumb to the temptation to reduce unduly the gross value, it would be no better off, because the deductions would be automatically decreased at the same time. That is what I want to make quite clear, and I ask you to take it from me that the meaning of this Clause is this: if you, reduce the gross value below what it ought to be, the deductions will be automatically reduced until you get to the same position as if the gross value was kept at what it should have been.
Mr. WEBB: I accept, and I understand all that. I understood it before, but the right hon. Gentleman has not met my point. He has thoroughly justified his contention that we must not allow Schedule A assessment of the Income Tax to be reduced below what it ought to be, and, therefore, we do not want to tempt local authorities to arrive at what they consider justice by lowering Schedule A valuations. That is quite right. But I am concerned with rateable value. I accept Schedule A, but I do not think it is a matter of indifference as to how the rateable value is fixed. It may be said, that so far as the ratepayer is concerned, it does not matter what deduction is made if it is done for all alike. That only applies within that rating area. In the case of London, something like half, or perhaps more, of the local taxation is a central rate, and, accordingly, it is a matter of great importance that Islington should not have a larger deduction from its gross value than Westminster. For that reason, you want uniformity in your method of arriving at the rateable value throughout all London, and that, of course, is aimed at in the Bill. London is also interested, as was pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman on the Second Reading Debate, because the water rate and contribution towards the police rate is levied over Greater London, the larger part of which has its rateable value determined by legislation other than the Valuation (Metropolis) Act, and will have its rateable value determined by legislation other than this Bill. Therefore, the inhabitants of London have a great interest in seeing that their rateable value is arrived at on the same principles as rateable value is arrived at outside. I am not making this a 61 grievance, because you cannot alter it in this Bill, but it justifies those who are interested in the matter in probing this new method of arriving at rateable value. The right hon. Gentleman has not made it clear to me that this does secure the interests of the ratepayers of London as opposed to the ratepayers outside, and I am still unable to understand—I admit, no doubt, because I have not taken sufficient trouble, but we cannot in these days take all the trouble we ought to take—why the 40 per cent. should be added as a uniform thing, when it bears no relation to the actual average amount of repairs and other expenses, which is the reason for making the deduction from the gross value in order to arrive at the rateable value. I do not imagine for one moment that I can persuade the right hon. Gentleman to upset his own calculation. I am only trying to understand it, and my difficulty is shared not only by other hon. Members but will be shared by the public outside when they come to deal with this Bill. All I can say is, that I do not understand now how it can be justified that this Bill should authorise the maximum deduction from the gross value in order to arrive at the rateable value, when, as a matter of fact, that deduction will not bear any necessary relation at all to the average cost of repairs and the other things included. You will have litigation on the subject, and, although that may not be unpopular with some people, it will not be a very comfortable prospect for others. In practice this maximum deduction will be uniformly made, and must be uniformly made in the great majority of cases if the work is to be done in anything like the time allowed, and you will have the result that the new rateable value will correspond even less to the equitable net value after deducting the average cost of repairs.
Mr. CLUSE: I should like to support what has been said by the right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb). I am a member of the Islington Borough, Council, and I know that our valuation committee have been exercised in their minds with regard to this Bill. Meetings have been held of representatives of the London borough councils, and they have come to a general decision and the members of the local councils have been asked to support that general decision. I agree 62 with what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the flat rate of 40 per cent. as a deduction. A tremendous number of landlords who get this deduction for repairs have not done the repairs. Apart from those who have not increased their rents and, therefore, would not want this deduction, there are hundreds of landlords who do not do the repairs and for which they get the deduction. There are many of these landlords in the constituency from which I come. It seems to me that they do no repairs at all. That may sound clap-trap, but it can be proved. If hon. Members will go into some of the London constituencies they will see that instead of repairs having been done up to 25 per cent., in a large number of cases they have not been done at all. Nevertheless, for these repairs which have not been done these landlords are to have a deduction from the gross value in order to fix the rateable value.
Amendment agreed to.
Colonel VAUGHAN-MORGAN: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1, b), to leave out the words "not exceeding in any case the maximum deduction authorised as respects hereditaments of that class under Part II of the said Schedule." I should like to move the next Amendment which stands in my name, because the two form part of the same paragraph, and are ancillary one to the other.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. and gallant Member can explain the two Amendments together.
Colonel VAUGHAN - MORGAN: My second Amendment is to insert at the end of the paragraph "but not exceeding the maximum amount which would be allowed by way of deduction under the scale contained in Part II of the said Schedule if the said Part II referred to the gross value of the hereditament to be entered in the new valuation list instead of to increased gross value." These Amendments, like the previous. Amendments which I have had the honour to move, are purely drafting Amendments. As it stands, Part II of the Schedule cannot strictly be made to apply to any exceptional cases mentioned in paragraph (b), because in these cases there is no increased gross value, while Part II of the Schedule only relates to in- 63 creased gross value. It is a differentiation between gross value and increased gross value, which is defined in the earlier part of the Bill.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: This is a drafting Amendment, and corrects what, I think, was an oversight in the original drafting of the Bill, that is, that Part II of the Schedule refers to increased gross value, which would not apply to Part II, paragraph (b).
Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: At the end of Sub-section (1, b), add the words "but not exceeding the maximum amount which would be allowed by way of deduction under the scale contained in Part II of the said Schedule if the said Part II referred to the gross value of the hereditament to be entered in the new valuation list instead of to increased gross value."—[Colonel Vaughan-Morgan.]
|Class of Hereditaments.||Maximum Amount of Deduction.|
|CLASS 1.—Houses and buildings without land other than gardens where the gross value does not exceed £40.||An amount equal to one-quarter of the gross value.|
|CLASS 2.—Houses and buildings without land other than gardens where the gross value exceeds £40 but does not exceed £100.||£10 or an amount equal to one-fifth of the gross value, whichever is the greater.|
|CLASS 3.—Houses and buildings without land other than gardens where the gross value exceeds £100.||£20, together with an amount equal to one-sixth of the amount by which the gross value exceeds £100.|
|Class of Hereditaments.||Maximum Amount of Deduction.|
|CLASS 1 (a).—Houses and buildings without land other than gardens where the increased gross value does not exceed £20.||An amount equal to two-fifths of the increased gross value.|
|CLASS 1 (b).—Houses and buildings without land other than gardens where the increased gross value exceeds £20 but does not exceed £40.||£8, together with an amount equal to one-third of the amount by which the increased gross value exceeds £20.|
|CLASS 2.—Houees and buildings without land other than gardens where the increased gross value exceeds £40 but does not exceed £100.||£15, together with an amount equal to one-quarter of the amount by which the increased gross value exceeds £40.|
|CLASS 3 (a).—Houses and buildings without land other than gardens where the increased gross value exceeds £100 but does not exceed £150.||£30, together with an amount equal to one-fifth of the amount by which the increased gross value exceeds £100.|
|CLASS 3 (b).—Houses and buildings without land other than gardens where the increased gross value exceeds £150.||£40.|
Mr. WEBB; I beg to move, in Part I, to leave out "¼," and to insert instead thereof "⅓." I am moving this Amendment in order to give the right hon. Gentleman an64
Colonel VAUGHAN-MORGAN: I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "draft valuation list or in the valuation list recorded," and to insert instead thereof the words "valuation list reduced." This is an unimportant Amendment, purely of a drafting character. The wording which appears in the original draft of the Bill "the draft valuation list," is not technically recognised in the Act of 1869, and the word "recorded," although it may be correct, is replaced with greater clearness by the word "reduced." The word "accordingly" terminates the Sub-section.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 2 [Short Title] ordered to stand part of the Bill.
opportunity of explaining a point in regard to the Schedule. For this purpose, I should like to move to insert a new scale for Part I, namely, the scale of deductions recommended by a meeting 65 of the representatives of the London local authorities, who are the parties concerned, last December, at the County Hall. They suggested, as a way of getting over the difficulty, that the scale should be a simple one, that up to £20 the deduction should be 33⅓ per cent.; up to £40 25 per cent.; up to £80 20 per cent. and over £150 16⅔ per cent. I am quite willing to have it explained to me why that simpler scale has not appeared, and I think the local authorities or, at any rate, those who attended the meeting, are entitled to be told what the difficulty was, although probably they have been told individually. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will not mind explaining for the benefit of the public, why that simpler scale has not been adopted.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: My right hon. Friend is more royalist than the King, apparently, because although the local authorities have all accepted the arrangement to which we came, after long discussions and negotiations with them, he still is not satisfied, and would like to substitute for the Schedule, the Schedule which was originally put forward by the local authorities. I do not know what I can do. I cannot repeat indefinitely what I have already said about this matter. I thought I had answered the very points which the right hon. Gentleman has now put to me. He wants to have a simple, short Schedule, stating exactly what the deductions are in each case, instead of the complicated arrangement which we have in the Bill. I thought that I had explained to him that the object of the complicated arrangement was in order to meet the kind of case where the local authority might otherwise reduce the gross value too much in order to preserve the position of their tenants. In order to save the surveyors of taxes from that, we have put in an arrangement under which, if such a thing were done, there would be no particular advantage in doing it, and, therefore, the incentive for doing it is removed. I do not know that I can make it any clearer.
Mr. WEBB: Would the effect on the tenant be the same?
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: No. The right hon. Gentleman, no doubt, realises that in making the proposal that he has done, he is going to put a new burden on the tenants. He has taken up the position 66 that the tenants are being unduly favoured at the expense of other classes of the community. He is perfectly right to take that view, and we must meet his arguments as seriously as we can. I would plead for the tenant with the right hon. Gentleman, and would ask that the tenant might have consideration in these cases, even a little bit more favourably than that which the right hon. Gentleman would give to his friends the bourgeoise.
Mr. WEBB: It is the landlord who is liable.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: The right hon. Gentleman is under the same misapprehension as the hon. Member for Islington South (Mr. Cluse). He thinks that it is the landlord that is liable for the rates. It is the occupier.
Mr. CLUSE: On a point of Order. What made me speak as I did, was because I know that this is a decision which has been come to by the united boroughs of London, who everywhere represent Conservative majorities.
The CHAIRMAN: That is not a point of Order.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I do not see the relevance of that observation to the point which I was making, namely, that it is the occupier upon whom the burden of the rates fall. It is on behalf of the occupier that I am standing up against the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The scale which he would impose would not be nearly so favourable to the tenant as the scale in the Bill. I do not know that right hon. Gentleman, even now, has appreciated that there are two alternatives here. What the Bill does is to say, that whichever of these two alternatives is more favourable to the ratepayer, that is the one which is to be chosen. That being so, I do not think that I need trouble the Committee by going into details. I read out some figures on the Second Reading, which showed how very much more favourable this scale was to the tenants than the original scale. I hope that, with the explanation I have given, the right hon. Gentleman will let us have our Schedule, and relieve the mind of the tenant from any anxiety which may have been caused to him by the right hon. Gentleman's action in moving this Amendment.67
Mr. WEBB: The right hon. Gentleman has had his little bit of fun, but I still make a final appeal to him. This is a Bill which must be absolutely unintelligible to the great mass of people. I am not quite sure that every Member of the Committee understands it. Is it not possible to issue in a White Paper a number of selected examples, imaginary cases, where the rent has been raised to so much, and the average cost of repairs is so much? Would it not be possible to issue a series of illustrative examples, showing in a number of typical cases how it will actually work out? The right hon. Gentleman must have had those things prepared. Could not he publish them for the benefit of the House and for the benefit of the public?
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: It is not the business of the Minister to publish information of that kind. It is rather the business of the Assessment Authorities, and in this case they have done so. I have here a paper with all the tables, for which the right hon. Gentleman is asking, set forth. From something that the right hon. Gentleman said earlier, he seemed to be afraid that the Schedule was so complicated that the Assessment Authorities would have difficulty in preparing their lists, and especially in preparing them in time. As a matter of fact, they 68 are at work on them now. They have assumed that the Schedule would go through exactly as we have arranged it with them. I am told that they anticipate no difficulties either in understanding the Bill or in preparing the lists in time.
Mr. WEBB: Would the right hon. Gentleman issue this table for the information of the House?
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I will put a copy in the Library.
Mr. WEBB: That is not adequate.
Colonel VAUGHAN-MORGAN: The right hon. Gentleman will see a substantial number of examples in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Mr. WEBB: Perhaps they will not include examples of this particular type of property. It does not seem unreasonable to ask that this information should be put into a White Paper, and circulated to the House.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be Reported to the House.
Committee rose at Four Minutes before Twelve o'Clock.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:—
Sanders, Sir Robert (Chairman)
Brown, Major Clifton
Bull, Sir William
Chamberlain, Mr. Neville
Davies, Major George
Grenfell, Mr. David
Hall, Captain W. D'Arcy
Hartington, Marquess of
Hudson, Mr. Robert
Milne, Mr. Wardlaw-
Morrison, Mr. Hugh
Peto, Mr. Basil
Smith, Mr. Rennie
Somerville, Mr. Annesley
Thompson, Mr. Luke
Watson, Sir Francis
Williams, Mr. John
Wood, Sir Kingsley