PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

STANDING COMMITTEE C

OFFICIAL REPORT

INDUSTRIAL RATING BILL

WEDNESDAY, 18th APRIL, 1956

Second Sitting

CONTENTS

CLAUSES 1 and 2 agreed to.

Bill to be reported, without amendment.

Committee rose at twenty minutes to Eleven o'clock.

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47 STANDING COMMITTEE C Wednesday, 18th April, 1956

[Mr. W. R. WILLIAMS in the Chair]

INDUSTRIAL RATING BILL
OFFICIAL REPORT Clause 1.
—(REPEAL OF S. 68 OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT, 1929, AND S. 45 OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT (SCOTLAND) ACT, 1929.)

Motion made, and Question proposed [11th April], That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Question again proposed.

10.30 a.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. Nixon Browne): It may be wise for me to speak at this stage and to make a short reply to some of the statements made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), who, I am sorry to say, cannot be here to complete the spirited speech which he was making at our last sitting. The hon. Member, in the speech which he has not completed, and in his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, quoted some figures in relation to Scotland which were intended to illustrate the loss of rateable value sustained by local authorities in Scotland as a result of industrial derating. I can agree at once that the figure of £2 million which he quoted as the contribution made by industry in Scotland to local rates is in round terms correct. The figures which the hon. Member quoted in the Second Reading debate were from appendices to the Sorn Report and were, of course, also accurate. These give the difference between the gross annual value and the derated rateable value of industrial subjects in Glasgow and Edinburgh and the counties of Ayr and Inverness. I am afraid, however, that I could not follow the hon. Member in the inferences which he drew from these figures as to the probable effect on local finances of the withdrawal of industrial derating. To say, for instance, as he did, that if industry in Scotland pays £2 million in rates now it would of necessity pay £8 million on the abolition of derating is, as I think the Committee knows quite well, a great 48 over-simplification. In the first place, if this additional rateable value were created, rate poundages could be reduced, no doubt in differing proportions in different areas. The contribution made by industry to local rates would, therefore, be something less than four times its present contribution. Another result of increasing the rateable value of local authority areas would be to alter the distribution of the Equalisation Grant and of the education grant. The total amount of these grants would also be reduced, but the exact amount of the reduction in respect of Scotland would depend, in present arrangements, on the effect of re-rating on the grants in England and Wales. Re-rating of industry would also almost certainly involve reconsideration of the Exchequer grants in general. The exact effect of re-rating on the finances of local authorities and on other ratepayers would, therefore, be a very much more complicated matter than the hon. Gentleman imagined. This leads me to deal with a complaint that the hon. Member made at our last sitting when he said that, whereas a statement had been made that a review of local authority finance was under consideration in England and Wales, not one Scottish Minister had ever told him whether this was also taking place in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman must have overlooked the reply that I gave to his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) on 1st November last when I said that the review of local government finance which the Government have decided to undertake will cover Scotland as well as England and Wales. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave an assurance on this subject in reply to a Question asked yesterday by the right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). My right hon. Friend said that it is intended to discuss the matter with the local authority associations as soon as possible. Meanwhile, consideration of the whole field is proceeding as quickly as possible within the Government machine. I have no doubt that the consultations with the local authority associations will include detailed consideration of the effects of re-rating on the lines that I have just indicated. Meanwhile, as to the Govern- 49 ment's attitude to the present Bill, I have read with great interest the speech of my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Secretary, during the Second Reading debate, and I am afraid that there is

Division No. 1.] AYES
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Holman, P. Royle, C.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hunter, A. E. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Skeffington, A. M.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mellish, R. J. Sparks, J. A.
Fernyhough, E. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Sylvester, G. O.
Gibson, C. W. Proctor, W. T. Wheeldon, W. E.
NOES
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Butcher, Sir Herbert Pott, H. P. Vane, W. M. F.
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Powell, J. Enoch Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Graham, Sir Fergus Remnant, Hon. P. Webbe, Sir H.
Linstead, Sir H. N. Roper, Sir Harold Woollam, John Victor
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill to be reported, without amendment.

Committee rose at twenty minutes to Eleven o'clock.

50

nothing that I can usefully add to the statement that he made then.

Question put, That the Clause stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 18, Noes 17.

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Williams, Mr. W. R. (Chairman)

Browne, Mr. J. N.

Butcher, Sir H.

Butler, Mr. H.

d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir H.

Ede, Mr.

Edwards, Mr. R.

Evans, Mr. A.

Fernyhough, Mr.

Gibson, Mr.

Graham, Sir F.

Harvey, Mr. Ian

Holman, Mr.

Hunter, Mr.

Key, Mr.

Linstead, Sir H.

Lucas, Sir J.

Mellish, Mr.

Pilkington, Captain

Pott, Mr.

Powell, Mr.

Price, Mr. J. T.

Proctor, Mr.

Remnant, Mr.

Roper, Sir H.

Royle, Mr.

Silverman, Mr. J.

Skeffington, Mr.

Smithers, Mr.

Sparks, Mr.

Steward, Sir W.

Sylvester, Mr.

Vane, Mr.

Vaughan-Morgan, Mr.

Webbe, Sir H.

Wheeldon, Mr.

Woollam, Mr.