§ 48. Mr. R. MORRISON
asked the Prime Minister, in view of the increased burden of rates thrown upon the voluntary hospitals by the Rating and Valua- 1124 tion Act, 1925, whether the Government will introduce a Bill during the present Session to remedy this, upon an assurance by all parties in the House that such a Measure would be regarded as non-controversial?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood)
I have been asked to reply. The Rating and Valuation Act made no alteration in the basis of the valuation of hospitals. It is open to the assessment authorities now, as heretofore, to adopt a basis which will take full account of the special circumstances of voluntary hospitals dependent upon contributions from the public and of the responsibilities, conditions and restrictions which affect their rateable value. Full rights of objection and appeal are available to any governing body which is not satisfied that due regard has been paid to these factors and is aggrieved by the assessment proposed. As I indicated in the answer recently given to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle, North (Sir N. Grattan-Doyle), the complete or partial exemption of hospitals from rating by statutory enactment could not be considered apart from the claims of other charitable and public institutions, and the introduction of legislation to that end could not be undertaken in the life of the present Parliament. I understand, however, that the British Hospitals Association are at my right hon. Friend's suggestion proposing to submit to the Central Valuation Committee proposals for promoting greater uniformity in the assessment of voluntary hospitals and the adoption of a generally acceptable basis of valuation.
§ Mr. MORRISON
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that his very plausible reply does not alter the fact that, under the Rating and Valuation Bill of 1925, the hospitals of this country have had increased burdens placed upon them amounting to many thousands of pounds, and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that they find very great difficulty in keeping the hospitals going? Under these circumstances, is the Government not prepared to do something to remedy that state of things?
§ Sir K. WOOD
As I stated just now, there has been no alteration made in the basis of the valuation of hospitals by 1125 that Act. I think the best course at the present time is for the hospitals themselves to adopt the suggestions which I have indicated in the last part of my answer, which were arrived at following an interview between the Minister of Health and the representatives of British hospitals.
§ Mr. MORRISON
Would it not be a more satisfactory method of proceeding for the Government to give facilities to the Bill which is going to be introduced this afternoon by the leader of yesterday's victory?
Dr. VERNON DAVIES
Is the Parliamentary Secretary prepared to support the proposals of the British Hospitals Associations when they come before the Central Valuation Committee?
§ Sir K. WOOD
We will do everything we can to assist them, but we have no statutory authority to intervene in regard to the policy of the Central Valuation Committee which has made certain suggestions. I have no doubt that those suggestions will promote a great deal of uniformity and may lead to good results.
§ Mr. JAMES HUDSON
Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the ameliorative work of the hospitals is as worthy of consideration as the work of the brewers?