§ 3.31 p.m.
§ The Chairman
I imagine that it will be for the convenience of the Committee if we take with the Amendment in page 1, line 5, the two following Amendments in line 8 and line 11 in the name of the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) and also the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member to Clause 11, page 13, line 21, and in line 24, which go together, and the new Schedule in the name of the hon. Member.
§ Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 5, after "made" to insert:on or before the first day of April, nineteen hundred and fifty-six.If it meets with your approval, Sir Charles, that we should take the Amendments which you have mentioned together, it certainly meets with mine, and 34 I think that it will be for the convenience of the Committee.
This Amendment deals with the very vexed question of the abolition of the draft valuation list, and the other Amendments are on the same point. On Second Reading, on 17th June, and on Second Reading of the Bill which was before the House before the General Election, the virtue or otherwise of disposing of the draft valuation list came in for considerable discussion. Therefore, the general principle having been discussed, I intend to be comparatively brief on this occasion. Although perhaps all of my hon. and right hon. Friends would not agree, I think that the Minister made a case for the abolition of the draft list on this occasion.
We have conceded to the Minister the fact that the ordinary ratepayer would not really appreciate the incidence of revaluation until he had also seen his rate poundage, the fact that the Inland Revenue Department, for reasons which are no doubt very good, has had its staff dispersed on other work and, generally speaking, that it would be impossible to give full effect to the Local Government Act, 1948, on this occasion. Having conceded all that to the Minister, I make the point that, while we would agree to all that on this occasion, it cannot apply in the case of further revaluations.
During the next five years, before we get the next revaluation, there is plenty of time for the Inland Revenue Department to reorganise and deploy its staff and make arrangements, there will be opportunity for the local authorities to take these matters into account, and there will be full opportunity to perfect the appeals machinery and to get ready for what might happen on further revaluation. In addition, much of the principal work, particularly in connection with shops and business premises, which under this valuation are to be on current values, will have gone through by the next valuation.
In brief, the point of the Amendments is that we accept the Minister's case for the present occasion and accept the machinery which is set out in Clause 1, but we provide in the Amendments that we shall revert to publication of the draft list on the occasion of any future revaluation.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. G. Lindgren) for the clarity and brevity with which he moved the Amendment and also for making it clear that the party opposite accepts, at any rate on this occasion, the desirability of abolishing the draft valuation list. The question raised by the Amendment is whether the list should continue to be abolished for the subsequent valuations, that is, in 1961 and thereafter. The hon. Member makes the point that the arguments for the abolition of the draft list on this occasion, which he accepts, will not be valid on future occasions.
The main argument has been that the procedure by which people are informed of their revised assessments, which are usually in an upward direction, about six months before they are told what the rate poundage is, which determines how much they would eventually have to pay, has two effects. The first is that it tends to result in a great number of appeals by people who would not have appealed if they had known the extent to which the rate poundage was to be reduced. The other, which is much in the same point, is that it creates anxiety among ratepayers, even though they do not actually decide to appeal.
I cannot altogether accept that the conditions on the next occasion will necessarily be different from those on this occasion. One of the main reasons we have feared the possibility of a very large number of needless appeals—appeals made under misapprehension as to the extent to which rate poundage is likely to be reduced—may very likely repeat itself on the next occasion.
The reason we expect so many appeals on this occasion is that there has been a period of 20 years between the last and the present valuation and consequently there is no doubt that assessments in general will go up very substantially. At first sight, it might be thought that that would not repeat itself in the case of the next revaluation in another five years, but we must not overlook the fact that dwelling-houses are now being valued at pre-war values and, as the Local Government Act, 1948, laid down, that is to apply only to the present revaluation.
It is expected that between now and the 1961 revaluation it will be possible to 36 arrive at a fair current value basis for dwelling-houses. That, of course, means that they will be revalued for the first time. Their change of assessment will be as from pre-war to 1961, which will again be a period of 20 years. Therefore, there is no reason to suppose that in respect of dwelling-houses there may not be a situation very similar to the one which arises in respect of other property on this occasion. But I shall not try to lay down whether or not the new procedure which we have set out in the Bill will be wholly satisfactory. It is the best that we have been able to work out.
I hope that it will prove satisfactory, but I think that it would be better to keep an open mind on whether or not the abolition of the draft list has been a good idea. That we shall be able to judge from the experience gained from the revaluation next year. If that experience shows that it is desirable to reintroduce the draft lists, there will be—I am sorry to have to tell the Committee, but there will undoubtedly be—at least one, if not more, opportunity to do so in connection with further rating and valuation legislation.
It is too much to hope that we shall get through a period of five years without another Rating and Valuation Bill of one kind or another. Quite apart from the major question of the rerating either of agriculture or industry, there will certainly be need for further legislation on such matters as the compounding limits for houses; the improved basis for the valuation of water undertakings—a matter which, as the Committee knows, is now under discussion between the Government and the water undertakings; improved permanent pool arrangements—the present are only temporary—for the valuation of electricity and railways and, possibly, other nationalised industries to which some reference has been made in the earlier debates.
I would further say that even if it were decided—and I have an absolutely open mind about this; we must see how it works—that it was desirable to restore the draft valuation lists, the procedure for their publication and for the appeals to be made is not very satisfactory—as I think those familiar with it will agree—and, undoubtedly, it would be necessary to improve and simplify it in a number of ways. I suggest that the Amendment would not by itself provide a satisfactory 37 method of restoring the draft lists for future valuations, even assuming that that was desirable. That being so, I would ask the hon. Member for Wellingborough to accept my assurance that the Government will keep an absolutely open mind on this issue, that we will consider the effects and working of the new arrangements set out in the Bill and will then consider whether any change should be made and whether it has been a good plan to abolish the draft valuation lists.
My own belief is that their abolition will be found to have been satisfactory, and I do not believe that there will be any demand whatsoever for their restoration. Again I say to the Committee that, if thought desirable, there will be ample opportunity, in the course of further legislation between now and 1961, to reintroduce those draft lists; and that, in any case, the present procedure for the draft lists is far from satisfactory. In those circumstances this Amendment, by itself, would not be a final or complete method of bringing the lists back into operation if that were desired.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
The Minister's reply, although sympathetic, is, nevertheless, disappointing. He is aware that a great many people are apprehensive about this change and feel that, somehow or other, some rights which they previously had are being taken away. We fully appreciate the reasons why, on this occasion, the Government have proposed the abolition of the draft valuation lists, but it is typical of bureaucracy, if I may say so, that when making a change to deal with a specific occasion it thinks that it would be better to keep it on against the possibility of another occasion when it might come in useful.
That is not the way in which this Committee should deal with such matters as this. I suggest that there is one quite important principle which we should respect—that when a charge is levied against a ratepayer or taxpayer he should have an interval to appeal against it, and have that reasonable time for it to be settled before the assessment becomes operative. That is an important principle. It is not wholly satisfactory for an assessment to be made as from the date of operation, even though a safeguard is provided against paying any more in total rates while the 38 appeal is under consideration. An appeal may take months to dispose of, and there is still the matter of arrears of rates to be paid if the proposal is rejected and the reduction in the assessment not made.
It is not satisfactory to leave things as they are. I should have hoped that the Minister would have been prepared to deal with further difficulties—if they arise—when we come to them; to regard the specific circumstances on this occasion as justification for withdrawing the draft valuation lists, but to leave the future to be reconsidered in the light of whatever circumstances may arise at the time of the next revaluation.
I still hope that the Minister will make a better start in Committee on the Bill by accepting this Amendment. It is put forward in perfectly good faith, in a helpful spirit and in a desire to safeguard ratepayers for the future against a change of procedure which, at the moment, they view with some suspicion. It will take a little time for them to get used to this idea, and even now we do not know whether it will be wholly satisfactory from their point of view or from that of its administration.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
I should like to say how much I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). I do not often agree with him on such matters, but here he has, I think, put the case in an unanswerable way. Had the proposed administrative change been something which was widely accepted as necessary, fair and just there might be a case for saying that we should leave it in the Bill until the time comes to introduce a further amendment. The fact is that this proposal, rightly or wrongly—and that is a matter of opinion—is regarded over a very wide area with great suspicion as taking away from the ratepayers certain rights which they have had for some time now. To some extent it is regarded as "pulling a fast one" over the people who are to suffer from increased assessments.
The pros and cons have been debated on Second Reading and are not relevant here. What is relevant to the present discussion is that, in that atmosphere, accepting that that is the attitude which many people take, surely the wisest and most statesmanlike thing would be to state precisely what has been said 39 about the changed basis of valuing residential property; namely, that we are to try it out for one valuation, see how it works, see whether there are, in fact, all these widespread effects which are expected. Then, when, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, we have later to look again at the problem of valuation the House of Commons can, if necessary, be given a further opportunity to decide what should be the final solution of the difficult problem of draft lists.
If the Government are resting their case merely on the immediate crisis caused by resuming valuation after a long time—if that is the main ground for abandoning the draft lists—surely they should accept the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren). Some hon. Members take the view that it is necessary to abandon the draft lists. Others do not. Whatever view one takes on that, surely the one compromise on which we can all agree is to see how it works for the one valuation and, on the good old British principle of looking at what happens and deciding how it works in practice and not in theory, we can, if necessary, then look at it again. If people felt that we were making a change only temporarily, and that we were keeping the old procedure as a general principle until we had an opportunity of seeing how these changes work, that would be a sensible compromise.
I do not think that the Minister was quite fair to my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough. Whatever were the arguments about the draft list, we are prepared to be reasonable. We do not want to rehash Second Reading arguments, because we are anxious to make a reasonable suggestion on which it is possible to reach agreement.
I am surprised at the Minister. If he is sincere in wanting merely to deal with this pressing and practical problem in an empirical way, I am surprised that he is not willing to accept the Amendment. His reluctance to do so will revive in the minds of people, both on this side of the Committee and outside this House, the feeling that there is something more involved than the mere question of administrative pressure arising from the circumstances of this valuation. It will revive a great deal of reluctant hostility among those who were well disposed towards the 40 proposal, because they will feel that there is something more here which prevents the Minister from making this concession. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not ready to meet us in this matter.
§ Sir Ian Horobin (Oldham, East)
In the circumstances, this is really a small point. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the shopkeepers in particular are extremely worried about the result of this legislation, and with some reason. Most of what they have to say to us and ask us to pass on to the House is, I am afraid, either irrelevant or too late. But the fact remains that they are worried.
I should have thought that the Minister might, between now and the end of this Bill, consider whether there was not something in the point that it might be worth while assimilating their position to that of the private dwelling-house, making the inevitable and necessary change for this list and, since he says that we have to consider it all again, to consider it again from the old position and not from the new.
I do not think it is a very important thing and, frankly, I do not believe it will greatly help the people who are excited; but it cannot hurt the Government. It is not as though it would necessarily mean new legislation. Perhaps, therefore, my right hon. Friend might think it worth while to have second thought about it as the Bill goes through Committee.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
It is rarely that a Committee of the House of Commons has the privilege of hearing the collective wisdom and voice of Oldham and I am happy that this should be so today. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) that the Minister was a little ungenerous to my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren), who moved this Amendment with ability and conciseness. The right hon. Gentleman would certainly be under a misunderstanding if he thought that the agreement of the party on these benches to these proposals has been given with acclamation or in any spirit of wholehearted approval. We have accepted with some reluctance a position in which the administrative difficulties appeared to impose upon the House the duty of accepting proposals which are obviously open to considerable objection.
41 I suggest to the right hon. Gentlemen that there has been a failure of public relations in this matter. Most of us have been inundated with letters from people who are not conversant with what happened during the Second Reading debate, or with the explanations, and are not fully conversant with the nature of the proposals and with the protections that exist in the Bill.
Yet it is right to say, too, that people who pay rates have a great deal of empirical knowledge about rates. I was born into a world when the idea that rates would reach 20s. in the £ would have been regarded as fantastic and impracticable. Twenty years ago it would have been said that no one could pay rates of 20s. in the £ because in that case there would be no income from the property. Today, any shopkeeper who hears that he is to be revalued on the new basis, and fears that this will certainly not be to his obvious benefit, may have well in mind also that this is an expedient by which the rateage in the £ would be reduced because the assessments have been increased, and the rateage in the £ will rightly catch up in the years to come with reductions that have been made for the moment by the immediate effect of increasing the assessment.
Speaking seriously, I think that the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Sir I. Horobin) will have these problems very much in mind. When one considers the magnitude of the housing burden; when one knows that the Oldham Corporation is now saying that 10,000 houses will need to be condemned in our slum clearance scheme whereas, under a new scheme, it would mean more than 50,000; when there are miles of streets in the town which have never been made up, and in respect of which the burden is colossal, it is obvious that the shopkeepers of Oldham have real and justified apprehensions.
I will try to explain the position to them and to carry to them the assurance given by the Minister, but the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman put forward a few moments ago seem to me to be arguments for accepting the Amendment and not for rejecting it. The Minister said that we shall have to consider this matter again in the course of this Parliament—I am not sure whether 42 he meant in the course of this Session or in the next year or two but, in any event, before the question of a second revaluation would develop under existing law, before the five-year period has expired.
In those circumstances, I should have thought that it would give a great deal of assurance to the public if the Minister would accept this Amendment. Then, when the Minister came to the House with his new proposals, he could say, "I accepted the Amendment, but in the light of the experience we have now had I shall now legislate on this matter."
Why should the Minister not accept the Amendment now? How can it harm him to do so? It would be a considerable reassurance to people who are worried if he would say that the protections they have had in the past are not being abrogated wholly but are being suspended for the purpose of a large and difficult and collective valuation for the moment, after a lapse of twenty years and at the end of a war period. I can see no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should not get up and say that he will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Ealing, South)
Refreshing as it is to hear the collective wisdom of Oldham, I am not convinced that the argument advanced about the special case of the shopkeepers is wholly relevant to this Amendment. If it be alleged that the shopkeepers are being singled out for unfavourable treatment by this legislation, it does not make it any more favourable to say, "We are going to abolish the draft valuation list in respect of your case but, when we come to deal with houses we shall give them more favourable treatment and reverse the process."
I should have thought that if it be true, as it must, that we shall take up the question of the valuation of dwelling-houses at a subsequent stage, probably within the next five years, from the point of view of the shopkeepers it is much more reassuring to know that they are to be put, as regards the draft list, in the same category and on the same basis as the owners of residential property, rather than to feel that they have been singled out now for special treatment.
Nor do I follow the argument of the hon. Members for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) and Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) that 43 because the Minister can come back during subsequent legislation, perhaps in this Parliament, and say, "We have found that this was a good plan and we want to keep it going for the next valuation," he should accept the Amendment now. I should have thought that the possibility that he could change his mind was an equally valid reason for not accepting the Amendment now. If it be true that we are bound to have more legislation in respect of this matter, it is equally true——
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Maude
The law is being altered permanently in respect of a number of other things, and it is thought right, because of the circumstances now arising, where there may be a large number of appeals, that the draft valuation list should be abolished in this case.
However, my right hon. Friend said—I entirely agree with him—that there is no reason to suppose that the next valuation or the next but one, when the question of dwelling-houses comes up, will not produce at least the same magnitude of potential appeals as this one. Therefore, we are singling out a certain class of property owners for unfavourable treatment if we say specifically that this is not a permanent change in the law but merely something for this occasion.
I should have thought that even the arguments which have been advanced from the other side of the Committee were arguments for rejecting the Amendment.
§ Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)
I take it that shopkeepers are given as an example merely because they are the ones who are suffering under the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are not the only ones."] It is mainly shopkeepers.
The Minister seemed to think that the Opposition had abandoned their objection to the dropping of the draft valuation list. He was being very optimistic in making that assumption. I have not abandoned my opposition to it, and the only argument that I can see for dropping 44 it is the shortage of time. That argument need not apply in the case of future legislation, and I do not think it need have applied in this case. If the draft valuation list had been published, it would not have been very difficult for local authorities to work out what the rate poundage would be, assuming the new valuation, and, therefore, it would not have affected in any way the total number of appeals made. The Minister seems to think that when the rate poundage is published next April, the number of appeals will be fewer than would have been the case. I do not think that that will be true at all.
Consequently, I should like the Minister to have another look at the matter. He is not only dealing with it in respect of this Bill, in regard to which there may be a shortage of time, which is the only valid argument that he can put forward; he is also abandoning a principle. I hope he will have another look at the matter, when, I trust, he will be able to say that he is willing to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thane)
I should like to put a short question to the Minister in supporting, first, the arguments which he has adduced for the abolition of the draft valuation list. I believe that it is time the law was permanently changed, but the fears which are undoubtedly in the minds of shopkeepers, in particular, at present arise not out of anything which is done by the procedure in this House but out of the suspicion that they will have to pay more money next April. Therefore, it is far more satisfactory to have a system where the assessment and the rate poundage are known at the same time so that individuals will know what they have to pay. I hope that that will become a permanent feature of our law.
What concerns all shopkeepers is the feeling that they will have to pay a rate which they find too heavy. In my part of the country, certainly, where there is considerable seasonal trade, it is very important to know exactly what rates one will have to pay before the season commences. It is obvious that the assessment will in almost all cases go up, though perhaps less in my area than in other areas because it is already very highly assessed. On the other hand, I believe that in most cases the rate poundage will go down.
45 However, what is to stop a local authority next year making a very handsome profit on the deal? How will the Minister ensure that a local authority does not make a very good thing out of it next year when the assessments go up? A local authority has merely to do nothing at all on the rate poundage, and it will then get a great deal of extra money in the kitty. [Interruption.] I seem to have stirred up a hornet's nest. Nevertheless, I think it is true. A local authority which does not like the Government very much could make things very awkward next year if it decided that it wanted to get on with a few beneficial schemes. How will the Minister keep the situation in view at the time local authorities fix the rate poundage when the assessments are known?
I suggest that if shopkeepers are to have to pay a good deal more, it is time they knew it. If they have not to pay a great deal more, then it would be a good thing for them to know it now, for then a good deal of the discussion which is due to take place within the next few hours would become unnecessary.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
The speech to which we have just listened illustrates the way in which we may very well proceed from one bad state to a worse one as a result of the Government's decision to abandon the draft valuation list. Let it be quite clear that there will be no support from this side of the Committee for the suggestion of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) that the Government should be responsible for determining the rate in the £ to be levied by local authorities. That would be control from Whitehall with such a vengeance that we should feel bound to go to the support of any local authority, good, bad or indifferent, which incurred the displeasure of the Government in such a way.
I listened to the speech of the Minister with considerable foreboding. It is clear that what is happening to shopkeepers now is nothing to what will happen to private house occupiers in 1961. The right hon. Gentleman is using the Bill to escape from the wrath to come, something which is well known by all theologians to be quite impossible.
The anomalies which exist in respect of shop premises are small compared with 46 those which have grown during the last thirty years in respect of private dwelling-houses. In the far-off days when the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, was passed, I became chairman of a county valuation committee. One of the rating authorities in my county passed a resolution, as soon as it saw the terms of the Act, to the effect that it should not apply to the Hambledon Rural District, and the county valuation committee was compelled to undertake the work for it—and we found a considerable number of cottage properties which, somehow or other, had never been discovered by the old assessment committee.
In another area we had a ratepayer who was chairman of the local county assessment committee. We had his property valued by a professional valuer, but the committee chairman said, "You must be wrong, because you are putting me up 95 per cent." We had another set of properties, four farm cottages built in a terrace on a farm, which we were asked to assess individually and equitably. The first was a cottage let by the farmer to one of his workers. The farmer was entitled, in those days, to get a rent of 3s. a week. The next, a quite similar cottage, was not in the occupation of a person employed on the farm, but was subject to a controlled rent of 15s. a week. The other two had been joined into one here-ditament which was occupied by one of the minor female lights of the variety stage at weekends, when she entertained some of her admirers. There was no de-rating on that ground. For that cottage she paid £3 10s.
§ Mr. Ede
We had no power to inquire into that; they were not sub-tenants.
For those who live in private dwelling-houses the claim cannot be made by the right hon. Gentleman that he does not have time now to consider their cases before the draft valuation list is published. It is highly desirable that, while we accept, by the right hon. Gentleman's exercise of force majeure, the claim that for this list the draft valuation list shall not be published, in view of the far larger number of people who will be concerned with a far wider range of anomalies, we ought to agree to the Amendment. I sincerely hope that if the right hon. Gentleman does 47 not feel that he can accept the Amendment after the speeches which have been made in its support, we shall go to a Division.
§ Mr. W. T. Proctor (Eccles)
I hope that the Government will have second thoughts on this matter. I am against the abolition of the draft lists. It does not seem to meet the situation in any way. The business community and shopkeepers would like to have the information necessary to allow them to decide whether or not to appeal, and the abolition of the draft list will not give them that information and we shall not be in any better position.
The very basis of calling the list a draft valuation list is that it is not final. Everyone has the opportunity to see it and appeal against it. Although a case can now be made out—a case I do not accept—for making this permanent, I appeal to the Government to give this matter further consideration.
§ Mr. C. W. Gibson (Clapham)
I hope that the Minister will reconsider this matter. It is a peculiar situation—especially just after an Election during which many things were said about freedom and protection of the rights of the minorities, and so on—in which to find Members on this side of the Committee. They are trying to preserve a very old right of the people to see what are their assessments for rating purposes before the rates are levied. I find it very difficult to understand—except for purely administrative reasons—the Tory argument that it is right and proper that this Clause should go through unamended.
I can understand the officers of the Department wanting to push this Clause through in order, as they think, to save themselves a great deal of work in considering appeals, but I have a feeling that they will get appeals in any case. It is true that they will not get appeals on the draft list, but I am sure that as soon as the new assessments are seen, there will be a mass of appeals all over the country. Indeed, other hon. Members and I received letters only yesterday from an organisation representing small shopkeepers claiming the right to enter their appeals before the rate is levied. Under 48 the Bill, they will have to wait until they are actually charged their rates. That has been decided apparently in the vain hope that, because in most cases there will be no increase in the rate poundage and even a reduction, people will accept the new assessment figures.
My local newspaper last week—and this affects the Minister's constituency as much as mine—published a speech by a rating authority saying that rates on business premises in South London are likely to go up by anything from 300 to 400 per cent. I can imagine the number of appeals likely to be made, not only by shopkeepers, but also by business people in South London who find themselves with that enormous increase in their assessments.
I think that every house, every shop and all business premises should be assessed at their proper value. I am not in favour of fancy and sometimes untrue values being put in the list. Everybody ought to have his property assessed at its full value for rating purposes. It is altogether to be regretted, however, that we should find the Tory Party taking away a right which has existed for many years, and which was included in the Local Government Act, 1948, of seeing the draft list so that representations could be made about it. I hope that the Minister will have another look at that point. That will save the Department a good deal of trouble later on.
Because of the way in which the Clause is drafted, we shall not get a change in this valuation period, but let us make quite sure that in the next valuation period the draft list is issued so that people can see it and make appeals if they want to do so. In view of the fact that the next list will deal with ordinary residential property, it is essential that there should be a chance of seeing the list before rates are levied, in order that there may be appeals against the assessment. That would be giving to the people a right which they have not only had for many years but which is fair and reasonable, and which not only intends justice, but appears to be giving justice. I hope that the Minister will reconsider this matter, or, if he finds himself unable to do so or refuses to do so for administrative reasons, that the House will reject the Clause.
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)
Would it be in order for the Minister to indicate his view on the Amendment to delete subsection (6), because that would appear to have some bearing on the decision which we should reach on the Amendment under discussion? There are two matters about which ratepayers, and shopkeepers in particular, are concerned. One is the abolition of the draft lists, and the other is the right to see the new valuation lists before the date when the rate is levied.
If it were the intention of the Minister to accept the Amendment to delete subsection (6), there would not be so much weight in the arguments which have been advanced in favour of the Amendment which we are discussing. It may not be in order for the Minister to indicate his views on that later subsection, but it would be helpful if he were able to do so.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
We have had draft valuation lists for 87 years now. They started under a different name, but they have always served the purpose of giving to the ratepayer a right of appeal before the rate was actually levied. We are, by the Clause, depriving the ratepayer of that right of appeal. It is true that later the ratepayer has the same rights as he has previously had, in a slightly modified form, but it still remains the fact that, having had two rights of appeal before, he is now to have only one.
We on this side of the Committee have objected, not only during this Session but during the last Parliament too, to the removal of one of two rights of appeal. For that objection we have had considerable support. The Minister justified the change today, as he has justified it on other occasions, by one consideration only—that it was administratively imperative. He has made it administratively imperative by bringing in the Measure at such a late stage. There is no doubt that, unless the draft valuation lists are to go on this occasion, there will be very serious difficulties in the timetable.
We do not accept that it is proper to deprive ratepayers of that right. We have not accepted it, and we do not accept it now, but the Bill has had a Second Reading and the main point in it, as we have been told by the Government, is this matter of valuation lists and draft valuation lists. We have no wish to argue 50 again the question of principle. What we are considering now is this: if, for particular reasons for which the Government themselves are largely to blame because of their delay in introducing the Bill, it is now necessary to abolish a right of appeal on one occasion, does it thereby follow that it is necessary to abolish that right forever?
It is time that, from this side of the Committee, we reminded right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite of one or two of the principles which from time to time they have claimed as their own. One of them was—and here we too could support them—that if a Minister has to be given powers by Parliament he shall be given only such powers as he clearly requires and needs for a public purpose. Here we have the right hon. Gentleman saying, "I need this power this time. I need it for reasons peculiar to this occasion and then it does not very much matter"—I hope that I am not misrepresenting him—"whether I also take the powers for the indefinite future or whether I restore to the ratepayer the right which he has had for so long of a second appeal."
It does not very much matter because, as the right hon. Gentleman explained, there is bound to be further legislation about rating fairly soon. It lies with the Government of the day what are to be the sort of terms and scope to that Bill, if and when it is introduced; by what sort of Money Resolution it is backed; and, therefore, within what limits Amendments can be put forward. Are we to have an undertaking that if any rating Bill whatever is put forward it will be open to us to reintroduce the draft valuation lists and the second right of appeal which are being removed now?
The matter is made even worse, as my venerated right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has just explained, because the next Bill will deal with the valuation and the rating of private houses. Those ratepayers are the very people who will be most concerned with preserving to the full their rights of appeal and exercising them. If the draft valuation lists are to stand abolished for as near Parliamentary eternity as one can manage, they are the people who will suffer. On what principles do the right hon. Gentleman and other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite justify giving to a Minister 51 powers for which he himself has made no case whatever? What is the position as regards the powers beyond this first occasion?
There is another question. I understood that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite were concerned with the rights of private citizens to go to some court or appeal tribunal as against the Executive—the administrative authority. This matter concerns exactly that. It has remained for the Tory Party, with that magnificent departure from its professed principles which always seems to characterise its actions, to be the one to remove one right of appeal; and, not content with removing it on the one occasion when it is admittedly required because of their time-table and their own default, the Government now insist, by refusing to accept the Amendment, on removing it indefinitely.
Surely right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have been professing these principles so recently on the hustings that they might at least show some decency in maintaining them for a month or two more instead of taking the first available opportunity to throw them overboard. Some of them will remember that in the last Parliament we had something to say about Election pledges. They have avoided that difficulty this time by making no pledges and issuing as their programme the woolly and wordy document with which we are all well acquainted.
Being unable to abandon pledges, they prefer to abandon principles, to give to a Minister indefinite powers for which he scarcely asks and for which he finds no justification, and to deprive the ratepayers, for no particular reason, of a right which has served them well for eighty-seven years and has been used to safeguard them against the consistent encroachments of the Executive. I suggest to the Minister that it would be more sensible, more dignified, more high-minded and more in keeping with his better self if he accepted the Amendment and did not reject it.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys
I am sure that my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee would like to congratulate the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) on his promotion to the Opposition Front Bench. His eloquence 52 and forthrightness have certainly not suffered any official restraint which might otherwise have been imposed upon him. The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the wordy document issued by the Conservative Party during the General Election. All I would wish to say is that we did not follow the example of the party opposite who, I believe, issued a document of about thirty pages a year before, setting out in very great detail what was their policy, and then reduced it to a document of four pages when it came to the Election.
The hon. and learned Gentleman said again and again that during the Second Reading debate his party had objected strongly to the abolition of the draft lists. I know that when the hon. and learned Gentleman sat on the back benches he did object very strongly to their abolition. But his hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren), who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench, commended the decision to abolish the draft valuation lists. The hon. Gentleman said that he recognised that appeals on them would clog the administrative machine, and he repeated again today the arguments in favour of their abolition, at any rate on this occasion.
The hon. and learned Member for Kettering cannot make his promotion to the Opposition Front Bench retrospective to apply to what has been said at that Box. All the same, the hon. and learned Gentleman seems already to have exerted a certain influence since he arrived on the Front Bench, in that though the party opposite could not catch up with what has been decided, now—no doubt guided by the hon. and learned Gentleman—they wish that the abolition shall apply only to the first revaluation and not on a future occasion.
The main point made from the Opposition benches is a very important one, but I believe that it has little foundation in fact. It is the suggestion that by abolishing the draft lists we are removing a right of appeal against the decision of the Executive. Were that the case, I should not be standing at this Box recommending this proposal; and I certainly would not support hon. Gentlemen opposite in their acquiescence in the abolition of these lists, even on this occasion. If this would result in the removal of a right of appeal in 1961, the effect would be just 53 the same in 1955, and all the arguments against the abolition of draft valuation list would apply with equal strength on this occasion.
What is there in the suggestion that there has been a removal or a withdrawal of some right of appeal? The fact is that it is not so. Under the Bill, a ratepayer has twelve months, in most cases, in which to decide whether to appeal against a new assessment. If he proves successful in his appeal, the decision is made retrospective to 1st April, when the new rate came into operation. In addition, from the moment a ratepayer lodges his appeal, he no longer has to pay more than he did in the previous rating year. Until his appeal has been settled, he is protected from having to pay any more than he was paying.
I cannot see that any fuller or more complete safeguard of the rights of the individual could be applied than is here given. I consider, therefore, that it is wholly misleading to suggest that the Bill withdraws a right of appeal from the ratepayer. It alters the procedure, but that I believe to be to the advantage of the ratepayer, because in the end it will result in appeals being dealt with far more expeditiously than otherwise would be the case were the whole machinery clogged with thousands of altogether misguided and needless appeals.
The point which I have answered was made by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering, the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) and by other hon. Members opposite. I now wish to deal with the point made by the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn). He said that the only argument advanced by the Government in favour of this change on this occasion was the shortage of time. I have spoken in two Second Reading debates on this subject in the last two months, but I have never in any sense suggested that it was shortage of time and administrative convenience which led to this proposal.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is misquoting me. I did not say that the argument had been put forward. I said that it was the only argument which could be put forward. I do not accept the argument for the abolition of the draft valuation lists, but I said that the only argument which could be advanced for that abolition in this case was 54 the shortage of time. I did not say that that argument had been advanced.
§ Mr. Sandys
I cannot remember the words used by the hon. Gentleman—HANSARD will record them—but I accept that that is what he intended to say.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree that on this occasion it is the machinery and the time-table of that machinery which makes such an abolition necessary. The 1948 Act set out the machinery, that the draft lists should be published in October. That just cannot happen now—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—because the Inland Revenue Department could not get them to local authorities by that time. It could not be done, so it is a question of time.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not really think that that is so, though I cannot answer precisely, because the issue has not arisen. But there is no doubt that when we introduced the Bill, two and a half months ago, there certainly was no lack of time. The procedure could perfectly well have rolled forward.
§ Mr. Lindgren
But there has been a redeployment of Inland Revenue staffs. Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that.
§ Mr. Sandys
I am sorry. I could verify the position, but I do not think it is pertinent to the argument, because it is not the reason for the proposal. I think I am right in saying that when we introduced the Bill there would still have been time for this to have been done according to the old procedure. I am not making any point about it because that is not the ground on which this proposal has been put forward at any time whatsoever.
The main reason we have proposed the abolition of the draft lists is the one accepted by the hon. Member for Welling-borough. I am sorry to go on wearying the Committee by saying this over and over again, but I am obliged to do so because it is raised over and over again by hon. Members opposite. The reason is that under the present arrangement we fear—and our fear is based on the experience of previous revaluations—that if these greatly increased assessments are published six months before the rate poundage is fixed, there will be many thousands of appeals put in which otherwise would not be; and that, to use the 55 hon. Gentleman's own words, would clog the appeals machinery.
It follows that it is desirable that ratepayers should be told of the revised assessment of their property at the same time as they are told of the rate poundage; in other words, they should be told so far as possible at one and the same time what they will have to pay as a result of these recalculations of the valuation and of the rate poundage. After experience has been gained of the working of the new valuations, I do not believe that anyone will wish to see the reintroduction of the draft lists. I believe that the arguments in favour of abolishing them on this occasion will be equally valid on future occasions.
The hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) said that hon. Members opposite had been very reasonable in their approach, and I agree. I think that they have been very reasonable indeed, and I hope that they feel that I have been equally reasonable in the attitude which I have adopted in trying as far as possible to meet their arguments.
The hon. Members for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) and Oldham, East (Sir I. Horobin) referred to the position of shopkeepers. I think that the points which they made were very adequately answered by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) and, to some extent also, by my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). The criticism of the shopkeepers of the revaluation is that they are to be revalued on a present-day basis whereas dwelling-houses are to be revalued on a pre-war basis. That is a very understandable criticism, but nothing in the Bill alters that provision or affects the basis of valuation in any way.
I do not believe that on a future occasion shopkeepers would be in the least interested whether there were draft valuation lists or not. Neither do I believe that the abolition of the lists will in any way prejudice the review of the position which I have promised that the Government will undertake as soon as the full effects of revaluation can be properly measured.
The question is really whether we feel that this should be a temporary or a permanent change. As I explained earlier, I do not believe that the House is really being called upon to take that decision for the simple reason that between now 56 and the next valuation, which will be in about six years' time, there will be other opportunities for considering the matter. Then, as has been said by certain hon. Members and by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), the issue will be the position not of the shopkeepers, but of the occupiers of dwelling-houses.
In a typically witty speech this afternoon, the right hon. Member for South Shields said that he had a foreboding about householders in the future, and that I was trying to escape from the wrath to come. To be quite frank, I say to the right hon. Gentleman that I am more concerned with the wrath today. If I can get over that, I shall be prepared—if I am still here to deal with it—to face the wrath in five or six years' time.
As I say, the issue is really whether this should be a permanent or a temporary Measure. I ask the Committee to support me in the view that the best thing to do is to see how the thing works out on this occasion and to keep an open mind on the matter. I repeat the assurance that the Government will undertake a full review of the working of the appeals machinery in order to see whether, in the light of experience, a change is necessary.
If we feel that experience shows that this was a mistaken step, we shall not hesitate, in one of the various Measures which will probably have to be brought before the House on the subject between now and the next revaluation, to propose the reinstatement of the draft valuation lists. Of course, changes would be necessary, because, as I explained, it would not be satisfactory simply to restore the draft valuation list procedure in its present form. Alternatively, if the Government did not feel able to do so, I am sure that there would be opportunity in such Measures for hon. Members opposite to propose an Amendment of that kind.
With those assurances, I hope that the Committee will not press the point which, to my mind, is largely an academic one, because there will be plenty of opportunity during the next six years to make adjustments if they are thought necessary. I trust that the Committee will not press the matter to a Division.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Lindgren
What the Minister has said is most unsatisfactory. I will first deal with the point, on which the right 57 hon. Gentleman was quite right to make play, that on the Second Reading of both Bills I said that as a local authority man I was very attracted to the proposal to abolish these draft lists for the following reason. The 1948 Act laid down the basis of valuation for both domestic and business premises. In 1953, the Government said that, in their view, the basis of valuation for domestic hereditaments was not workable. They therefore proposed that the basis of valuation for such premises should be the 1939 value, but they left the valuation of shop premises at its 1948 Act basis.
Because of the delays and because of the changes and problems inside the Department of Inland Revenue, further and further away has become the actual application of the revaluation. The basis of revaluation proposed at the present time is that ordinary domestic properties will change their valuation from that of 1934 to that of 1939, and that shop and business premises will change their valuation from that of 1934 to the 1954 basis, which is likely to be considerably higher than a change of value from 1934 to 1939.
Very few local authorities have more than 25 per cent. of rateable value in shop and business premises. Generally speaking, 75 per cent. of the rateable value is in domestic properties. Therefore, on both Second Readings I said that one would be likely to get a maximum number of appeals from that 75 per cent. if, in fact, the ratepayer at the time did not know what his rate poundage was to be.
Under this Bill, the domestic ratepayer gets a slight advantage over the shopkeeper because shop premises will pay more and domestic hereditaments will pay less. I do not like a 1939 value even for domestic property. I do not envy the valuer who will have to enter the 1939 values, particularly when he has to take into account what were the transport facilities, and so on, in the area in which he makes the valuation. The nearer we can come to a valuation for both types of property, the better.
When we deal with the matter in the next Bill, it will mean shifting the weighting away from the shops on to domestic hereditaments. But there is a considerable difference between the two types of 58 owners. Every owner of shop or business premises charges his rates not against his income but against profits, whereas the ordinary domestic ratepayer can only pay his rates out of income. In his case, the tax authorities will not take the payment of rates as a charge against Income Tax. In other words, he has no offset at all. Therefore, the draft valuation list gives the domestic property owner, and, from that point of view, also the business property owner, the opportunity of looking at the equity of his own valuation compared with that of someone else and equally an opportunity of entering into discussions with the valuer as to what the basis should be. If they can agree before the list becomes operative, so much the better.
We know that it is very often much easier to secure the alteration prior to a list becoming operative than it is after it has become established. After it is in the rate book and has thereby been set down as the opinion of a valuer or a local authority, although it is possible to alter it—and it is very often altered by appeal committees—it is much more difficult to do so. We have accepted the Bill as an instrument which makes it possible for local authorities and the Inland Revenue to carry through this revaluation and make it effective. Local authorities need the income which is likely to be derived from this revaluation. They do not like to see the rates going up to 25s., 26s. or 27s. in the £; they want a revaluation in order to reorganise their rate poundage.
Domestic hereditaments are not likely to be injured in any way by the Bill, and the owners of shop and business premises can employ valuers to look after them very effectively on appeal, but if we abolish the publication of draft valuation lists for ever—and once they are abolished by this Measure it will always be quoted as a precedent—the domestic ratepayers will be facing a serious situation. I advise my hon. Friends not to accept the arguments of the Minister, and to press this matter to a Division.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 201, Noes 238.61
|Division No. 2.]||AYES||[4.51 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Oram, A. E.|
|Albu, A. H.||Grey, C. F.||Oswald, T.|
|Allaun, F. (Salford, E.)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Owen, W. J.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Allen, Soholefield (Crewe)||Grimond, J.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Anderson, Frank||Hale, Leslie||Parker, J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hamilton, W. W.||Paton, J.|
|Balfour, A.||Hannan, W.||Pearson, A.|
|Bartley, P.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Peart, T. F.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hastings, S.||Popplewell, E.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hayman, F. H.||Probert, A. R.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Healey, Denis||Proctor, W. T.|
|Benson, G.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Rankin, John|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hobson, C. R.||Reid, William|
|Blyton, W. R.||Holman, P.||Rhodes, H.|
|Boardman, H.||Holmes, Horace|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Holt, A. F.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.)||Houghton, Douglas||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Ross, William|
|Boyd, T. C.||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Brook way, A. F.||Hubbard, T. F.||Short, E. W.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hunter, A. E.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Irving, S. (Dartford)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Janner, B.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Carmichael, J.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Steele, T.|
|Champion, A. J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St. Pncs. S.)||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Clunie, J.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Stross. Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Kenyon, C.||Swingler, s. T.|
|Cove, W. G.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||King, Dr. H. M.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Cronin, J. D.||Lawson, G. M.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Ledger, R. J.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Tomney, F.|
|Daines, P.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lewis, Arthur||Viant, S. P.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lindgren, G. S.||Wade, D. W.|
|Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery)||Logan, D. G.||Weitzman, D.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||McColl, J. E.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Mclnnes, J.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Deer, G.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||West, D. G.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||McLeavy, F.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mahon, S.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Willey, Frederick|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C,||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mason, Roy||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mellish, R. J.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Messer, Sir F.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Evans Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Mikardo, Ian||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mitchison, G. R.||Wilson, Rt Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Monslow, W.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Fernyhough, E.||Moody, A. S.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert(Lewis'm, S.)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Finch, H. J.||Moss, R.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Moyle, A.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gibson, C. W.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Mr. J. Taylor and|
|Cooch, E. G.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Mr. J. T. Price.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Oliver, G. H.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Balniel, Lord||Bishop, F. P.|
|Altken, W. T.||Barber, Anthony||Black, C. W.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Barlow, Sir John||Body, R. F.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Barter, J. W.||Bossom, Sir A. C.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Baxter, Sir Beverley||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.|
|Ashton, H.||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Boyle, Sir Edward|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Braine, B. R.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Bidgood, J. C.||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Bryan, P.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G, T.||Howard, John (Test)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Pott, H. P.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. Sir Norman||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Channon, H.||Hurd, A. R.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Iremonger, T. L.||Rawlinson, P. A. G.|
|Cole, Norman||Irvine, Godman (Rye)||Redmayne, M.|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Kaberry, D.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Keegan, D.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Craddook, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. F. C.||Kerr, H. W.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Kershaw, J. A.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Crouch, R. F.||Kirk, P. M.||Russell, R, S.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Lagden, G. W.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Cunningham, s. K.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Sharpies, Maj. R. C.|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, w.)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Leather, E. H. C.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Leavey, J. A.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Leburn, W. G.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Speir, R. M.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Storey, S.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Lloyd-Ceorge, Maj. Rt. Hon. G||Studholme, H, G.|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Longden, Gilbert.||Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Fell, A.||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Teeling, W.|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thomas, Rt. Hn. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Freeth, D. K.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Mackie, J- H. (Galloway)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Glover, D.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Godber, J. B.||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Cough, C. F. H.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Gower, H. R.||Maddan, M.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Grant, w (Woodside)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.(Nantwich)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Turner, H. F L.|
|Creen, A.||Marples, A, E.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Mathew, R.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Maude, Angus||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mawby, R. L.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Medllcott, Sir Frank||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamttow, E.)||Nairn, D. L. S.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Neave, Atrey||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Hay, John||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. &Chr'ch)||Whitelaw, W. S. I.(Penrith & Border)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Williams, Rt. Hn. Charles (Torquay)|
|Heath, Edward||Nugent, G. R. H.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Oakshott, H. D.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Hirst, Geoflrey||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Page, R. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Mr. Legh and Mr. R. Allan.|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Piokthorn, K. W. M.|
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 1, to leave out subsection (4).
I understand that the procedure, once the valuation list has been prepared by the valuation officer, is that it will be dispatched to the local authority at the end 62 of December. Between that time and the announcement of the rates in April, the only people who will know what is in the list are the valuation officer and the local authority; the ratepayer will be in ignorance of his assessment until 1st April, when he sees it on the rate demand note. 63 During the period of January, February and March next year the valuation officer, according to subsection (4), may alter the list.
The wording of the subsection is to the effect that if it appears to the valuation officer that the list in any particular requires alteration, the valuation officer may make that alteration. I presume that the words in the subsection if… it appears to him …must relate to representations made to the valuation officer by the local authority. No one else knows anything about the list, so one presumes that the local authority will, during January, February and March next, make representations to the valuation officer that the list should be altered if he sees good cause for such action.
§ Mr. Page
Certainly. If there is a material change in circumstances since the valuation was made. The valuation may have been made a considerable time ago.
Let us take the example of a shopkeeper who has recently installed a new shop front. That is certainly a structural alteration which would come under the definition of "a material change of circumstances." He may have installed the new shop front since the valuation officer entered the assessment of that property on the list. The local authority would then be entitled, during January, February and March next, to go to the valuation officer and say, "This ratepayer has installed a new shop front since you assessed his property. We think that the valuation ought to be increased." The ratepayer will know nothing about any alteration, because he is not entitled to see the list. The alteration of the valuation will be on the representation of the local authority.
One might argue that the local authority could ask for an alteration in favour of the ratepayer. That would seem very unlikely, because in most of these disputes over assessments it is the ratepayer versus the local authority. This subsection gives one of the parties to a potential dispute the right to go before the 64 valuation officer and ask for the assessment to be changed in that party's favour.
There is little doubt that, as a result of the representation of the local authority, there will be a change in the valuation list and an increase in assessment by reason of a material change since the assessment was entered on the list. That does not seem to me to be doing justice to the ratepayer—at least, justice is not seen to be done. That seems to be an undesirable procedure. Would it not be better if a representation of that sort on the part of the local authority were to wait until the ratepayer himself could take part in the proceedings and put forward his case on any proposed alteration of the assessment?
§ Mr. Sandys
Perhaps I might be allowed to answer briefly. The subsection, as was pointed out, is governed by the words:… by reason of a material change of circumstances which has occurred since the time of valuation, …There is no question of the valuation officer having second thoughts about the valuation which he has put on a particular property. This provision is in order—and I think that it is now understood by all concerned—to ensure that the valuation lists, when published, shall be as up to date as possible.
Incidentally, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) is right in saying that a change of this kind made by a valuation officer will very likely be as a result of information given to him by the local authority. There is nothing improper in that. It is the statutory duty of a local authority to bring to the notice of the valuation officer any change in the circumstances of a property at all times, not only in connection with a revaluation, but between times as well.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Is it not a little anomalous, not to put it any higher than that, that where there are two parties to a matter like the proper assessment of a particular piece of property, one party, the rating authority or local authority, should have knowledge of what the valuation list contains which is not equally available to the citizen who is to be charged with the rate? I take it that that is the hon. Gentleman's point, 65 and that he sees unfairness in letting one side to a two-sided transaction get in first with the quasi-tribunal and reach some arrangement with it, before the ratepayer gets any chance even to know what the valuation list has against him, still less to question it or to appeal against it.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not think that there is a disadvantage to the ratepayer. I do not suppose that the valuation officer will, if the change in circumstances occurs, be able to make a change, in practice, much after November. If a material change takes place in November or December, or perhaps a little earlier, in the character of a property, it is much better for the ratepayer that when he sees the list published on 1st April or thereabouts he should know that that is the list he has to consider in relation to whether he wishes to appeal against it or not. It would be very annoying for him if, subsequent to the publication of the list, he were told, "Owing to something which has happened before the publication of the list a further change will be made in your assessment. You can consider your appeal in the light of that."
There will undoubtedly be cases where these changes are not caught up with in time, but the more up to date the list the better it will be for all concerned. I do not think that there is a point of justice or principle involved in the Amendment but a matter of practical common sense. It is in the interest of the ratepayer that he should know as far as possible the assessment which he has to consider in deciding whether or not to appeal.
§ Mr. Lindgren
The Minister will surely agree that this point arises because of the abolition of the draft lists. The Minister said that the ratepayer was at no disadvantage. If an extra wing has been attached to a property it is only right that, as soon as the valuation is made, the local authority should inform the Inland Revenue Department of the addition, and that the property should be revalued. Under the procedure of the 1948 Act, which provides for the draft list, the local authority and the ratepayer would know the original valuation and of the proposal of the local authority to make an addition to the rateable value. He would know what that addition was, as between the old property and the new, on account of the addition made to the property.
66 The Amendment shows that even among the Minister's own supporters there are misgivings. The Government's majority dropped very seriously on the last Amendment, although not quite seriously enough. Hon. Gentlemen who ought to have been voting were in some other place. It is very convenient, if one wishes not to register a vote on something, to be somewhere else when the vote is taken. We can only take that as the reason Government supporters were not present when the vote was taken. We do not want to see the Minister getting into a worse position. This is one of the cases where the abolition of the draft lists puts the ratepayer at a disadvantage as compared with the local authority, when it comes to a knowledge of the valuation.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Houghton
The hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), who moved the Amendment, having swallowed a camel is now straining at a gnat. I do not think that there is anything wrong with the subsection, which seems to follow automatically from the abolition of the draft lists.
It is obvious that the local authority must have the new valuations some time in advance of the date upon which they have to issue the combined notices of assessment and rate demand. Therefore, they must have time to copy out all the particulars in the ratebooks in readiness for delivery to the ratepayers. One cannot deprive them of information which they must have if they are to do their job. In the meantime, the ratepayer is kept in ignorance of the new valuation; but that point is dealt with in another subsection.
It is the duty of the valuation officer to see that the values are up-to-date and he is altering them all the time. If changes take place he alters the lists as he goes along, until the time comes when he must deliver. The provision here tells him to go on altering if there is a material change in circumstances. It is a mistake to think that he will rely only on the local authority when material changes take place in circumstances. He is round about all the time, and he will notice some of these material changes himself. He is not dependent on the local authority to supply him with this information.
This is a practical way of dealing with the matter and, with great respect to 67 opinions to the contrary, I do not think it puts the ratepayer at any disadvantage because, whether there have been material changes or not, he will get the combined notice of assessment and demand note like everybody else. In the light of what he believes to be the circumstances of his case and of the property, he will know whether to appeal or not.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Major Anstruther-Gray)
Is it the Committee's pleasure that the Amendment be withdrawn?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The Temporary Chairman
The hon. Member may deal with both Amendments, with the leave of the Committee.
§ Mr. Page
The two Amendments would provide that the ratepayer has the same information about valuation lists as the local authority will have, and at the same time as the local authority will have it. I explained in the discussion on my previous Amendment that the local authority would receive the valuation list at the end of December and that the ratepayer would not know the contents of it and would not know how he was assessed until approximately 1st April, when the rate demand notes were issued.
I am not asking in the Amendments for the restoration of the draft valuation lists. It seems to me that the procedure laid down in the Clause, in effect abolishing the draft lists, is satisfactory, but I do not think it is satisfactory that only the local authority should know the contents of the valuation list and that the ratepayers should not at the same time know how they are assessed so that they can consider those assessments before the monetary demands are made upon them when the rates are fixed.
68 If the right of appeal, or the right of proposing an alteration to the assessments, is restricted until after 1st April, then the Minister will have achieved his object, as he expressed it, of preventing the appeal machinery from becoming clogged by misguided and needless appeals. At the same time, if the ratepayer has three months in which to consider his position and to consider the new assessments, he is less likely to put in an appeal than if the demand is suddenly made upon him.
I do not think the ratepayer who sees that his assessment has gone up will necessarily think that he will have to pay treble or four times the amount in rates that he is paying now. Surely he is intelligent enough to understand that a great number of assessments have gone up in his district and that he has to take the new total rateable value of his district and consider what his local authority needs to raise on that new total rateable value, compared with the rate which it had to impose on the old total rateable value, which was a much lower figure.
If the ratepayer is given time to consider the list, I am sure the result will be to reduce the number of appeals and not to increase them. If the lists are published and made known on 1st January, not only to the local authority, but also to the ratepayer, it will overcome a great deal of the suspicion which many ratepayers, and particularly the organised bodies of ratepayers, have felt about the whole business of the new assessments.
To have a hole-and-corner business between the local authority, the valuation officer and the Ministry during this period of three months will only increase that suspicion so that, when eventually the time comes for putting in appeals, those appeals, I feel, will come as a flood more as a matter of principle than because of a good reason after the rate demand notes have been seen. I do not think that the delay in giving information to the ratepayer about the lists will prevent a flood of appeals. It will probably increase the number of appeals by increasing the suspicion that something is going on between the local authority, the valuation officer and the Minister.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
I think it will be difficult for the Minister to resist the Amendment, which meets all the points he has put up so far. He has argued, "I have nothing up my sleeve. I have never 69 argued that the time factor has anything to do with it. I have always said that this will show the local ratepayer how his assessment marries up with the rate call. "It seems to meet everything he has argued and I shall be interested to see how he reacts to it.
The Liberals are bound to support it, for justice seems to be done in this Amendment. I have always admitted—although it has seemed to me that the Minister has made very heavy weather of it in attacking my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren)—that on the mechanics of the case, especially in the present context of time, it would be very difficult to go back on the proposals in the Clause, but when we have reached the point where there are to be no draft lists, when, in effect, everybody knows that the assessment will be divulged at the same time as the rate call, surely nobody can argue that there will be any harm, if the local authority is having the information on 1st January, in the ratepayer also having it on 1st January. He ought to have it then.
The assumption running through the Clause is that the ratepayer is a moron, who will not understand the simple calculations which have been done.
§ Mr. Pannell
My hon. Friend is mistaken. The trouble is that the Minister is judging this issue from the intellectual level of the hon. Gentlemen behind him. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, I listened to Second Reading speeches, including that from the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page). I have experience of local authorities—I have been on four. The other day the hon. Member gave us an example of local authorities chasing charitable institutions out of business. Discussing a Clause which we shall debate later, he said——
§ Mr. Pannell
I read the hon. Member's speech with interest but no profit, and I 70 know what he said then. I can only assume that he did not know what he was saying when he said it and would not understand it if he read it. But I will deal with this matter if I catch your eye, Mr. Anstruther-Gray, or the Chair's eye, whoever is in the Chair, when we come to Clause 6——
§ Mr. Pannell
To get back to the Amendment, it seems to me that justice seems to be done under it. I have always been in favour of giving local authorities the maximum time in which they could inspect the lists and see where they are going. It seems to me that it is reasonable, particularly from hon. Gentlemen opposite who always claim that they will preserve the rights of the individual against the machine, that the ratepayer should have the same facilities as we are asking should be given to the local authorities. That seems fair enough to me and I hope it will seem fair enough to the Minister; but I have a suspicion that it will not.
§ Mr. A. C. M. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
Earlier in the discussions on the Bill the Parliamentary Secretary said that rating experts were born and not made. I was certainly not born that way and it is, therefore, with great diffidence that I express any views on the Bill.
I understand the Minister's objection to the situation in which there could be a flood of appeals which might never have been made had it not been possible to make them before full information was available, but it seems to me that the Amendment makes a very reasonable request and I hope that my right hon. Friend will see his way to accept it. As I understand, it merely asks that the ratepayers shall know some months earlier than otherwise would be the case the information which, in any event, they are to be given later.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Wade
I hope that the Minister will accept this Amendment. In the Second Reading debate the Parliamentary Secretary said, when winding up:At this, the culminating point of eight years' work, we should be careful not to provoke too many doubts in people's minds about 71 the fundamental soundness and justice of the system."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June, 1955; Vol. 542, c. 992.]I am very sceptical about the "fundamental soundness and justice" of our rating system. There are a great many anomalies which it would be out of order for me to elaborate now. Whilst we cannot discuss those anomalies, I think we can endeavour to ensure that the right of appeal is not impaired.
I am quite well aware that if the Bill reaches the Statute Book the ratepayer will have a right of appeal. There is considerable misunderstanding, and it is our duty to make it as clear as possible that ratepayers will still have a right of appeal. Many shopkeepers have been concerned about that. I am not doubting or questioning that for a moment, but I think there is a strong argument for giving ratepayers the opportunity of seeing the new valuation list some time before the rate is levied.
It is certainly arguable in this case that appeals should not commence until after the date on which the rate is levied, when ratepayers will know what they have to pay, but what they have to pay is not the only point that concerns ratepayers. I agree that the ratepayer is perhaps primarily worried about how much he will have to pay, and he will not know that until the rate is actually levied, but that is not the only consideration.
He will wish to make comparisons with other properties, particularly if he is considering an appeal. I think it reasonable that he should have a period of time in which he may make comparisons with occupiers of other properties to see how their assessments have been affected. That would go some way towards meeting the very serious concern felt by ratepayers, particularly shopkeepers. For those reasons, I hope that the Minister will accept this very modest Amendment.
§ Commander Agnew (Worcestershire, South)
I should have thought it was to the advantage of the authorities that this Amendment should be made. Many people foresee that, if the Bill remains unamended, on the day when the lists come into force many ratepayers, particularly of the shopkeeping type, will hurriedly read their assessment and automatically proceed to lodge appeals. Then the very clogging of the administrative machinery 72 which the Minister seeks to avoid will come about.
On the other hand, if those ratepayers are given a chance of knowing what their valuations are to be at a time which, if the Amendment were accepted, would enable them to read through their assessments thoroughly, many would not see fit to lodge appeals. The advantage would be that there would be no panic rush of appeals. For those reasons, I hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider this matter and see fit to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. MacColl
I rushed to put my name down in support of the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) on the second Amendment which we are considering because that was my last despairing effort to make the Bill reasonable. The Minister could accept the Amendment. There has been no attempt to meet any of the criticisms from either side of the Committee or the misgivings and objections felt throughout the country. This seems to be an entirely reasonable suggestion, which has overwhelming support on both sides of the Committee. There has not been one speaker on either side of the Committee who has not supported it.
The only possible argument that could be put against it is the concern of the right hon. Gentleman for the blood pressure of the ratepayers. He has said in the past that if the ratepayer saw his assessment had gone up he would have coronary thrombosis before he discovered that he had not to pay more. I think that question could be left to those who know how rates are worked out. They could see what their assessment was and would have enough sense to know that that did not necessarily determine how much they were to pay.
This is not just a question of how much they have to pay, but of value, and there is still a faint tradition that assessment of rateable value is based on some kind of objective test and some way of measuring it, which people can examine and on the correctness of which they can decide. What possible objection can there be to ratepayers knowing at the earliest possible moment the assessment to be placed on their hereditaments so that they can look at the assessment and decide whether it seems reasonable in all the 73 circumstances and take professional advice about it?
As has been said by other hon. Members, the more ratepayers are able to do that in advance of putting in an appeal the less will it be necessary to put in a protective appeal to safeguard their position whilst they get advice. If the Amendment were carried, most ratepayers would have been able, when the time for appeals came, to have obtained professional advice on whether or not the assessment seemed a reasonable one.
That applies not only to shopkeepers, who have been mentioned a great deal in the discussion. Shopkeepers have a fairly well established and easily understood basis of valuation, but for people in residential premises there is the most extraordinarily cock-eyed basis, as was disclosed during the Second Reading of the Bill. It is particularly important that they should be able to go to someone and ask, "What does my 1939 value mean under 1955 conditions?" There will be gentlemen prepared to charge fees to explain what it means. If the ratepayer wishes to take advantage of the advice of those who, no doubt, will be queueing up to assist him, he should be able to do so. What conceivable reason can there be for not letting the ratepayer know the likely rateable value of his property on which he is to be taxed so that over a period he can decide whether to employ professional advisers to brief him on how to proceed.
I am glad to notice that the hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Mr. Walker-Smith) is about to intervene, because I know he is the king-maker. At the lifting of his little finger the Government will tremble. Here is a concession which the Minister ought to make. I hope that the hon. and learned Member will give that little wink or nod which will convey his wishes to the Government so that we shall get one concession which will enable those of us who are so anxious to be reasonable and to attribute the best possible motives to the right hon. Gentleman, and not to oppose him on this matter, to act accordingly.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
Not twenty-two, but twenty years ago, the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) and I were pupils in chambers together and studied law. The hon. Member has learned a lot since then, but not very much, I fear, in 74 the sphere of law. I should like to be able to say that it is in response to his invitation, couched in such felicitious phrases, that I rise to intervene. I have always made it my first rule of conduct to adhere scrupulously and literally to the precise truth in every respect in the House of Commons, and I cannot make that pleasing observation in response even to the hon. Member. It is my intention to join my voice with those who have urged the Minister to consider accepting the Amendment.
When the present Bill's predecessor was introduced in the last Parliament on 6th April, I drew attention to the distinction which was made between the rights of ratepayers and rating authorities in the Bill in regard to the lists. I ventured to suggest at that time that the gulf could be closed or reduced by giving rather less information to the rating authorities at that early date. My suggestion then was that it might be sufficient for their purposes that they should have the global totals instead of prior inspection of the entries for the individual hereditaments. Effect would have been given to that suggestion by an Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) and others of my hon. Friends, which the Chair, in its wisdom, has not seen fit to call.
For administrative reasons, that suggestion did not at that time commend itself to my right hon. Friend. That being so, it seemed to me that if this problem could not be met by reducing the amount of information to be made available to the rating authority at that stage, we must seek a solution along the other line of approach and try to increase or expedite the amount of information to be made available to the ratepayer. The simplest method of doing that is to do what my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) suggests—take away this limitation on the ratepayer's right of inspection of the list and accelerate that right, so that he is aware at the first possible moment of the proposed revised assessment of his individual property.
I share, and I am sure all the members of the Committee share, with my right hon. Friend the desire to avoid a flood of ill-considered appeals, but, as the Committee will appreciate, there should be no connection whatever between rate poundage and an appeal against an individual assessment of a rating hereditament; 75 because, of course, the appeal is within the limits of a statutory formula which has nothing to do with the rate poundage as such. It may be that when people know that they will be paying less by way of rate poundage, they will not be so eager to appeal; but strictly, of course, it should not affect the question at all. One would assume that most ratepayers are able, at any rate, to make some sort of rough and ready calculation of their own.
As my right hon. Friend knows, in case ratepayers are not able to do that and in case my hon. Friend's Amendment does not commend itself, I have sent him a memorandum in the past week setting out a further suggestion whereby additional information could be given to the ratepayers by way of a statement to be made by the rating authorities which would show, in effect, a cross-section of the level of new rating liability whereby the ratepayers could see by example how they were likely to be affected.
We can, however, save the complication of a further statement to be made by the rating authority together with the submission of the list if it is possible, quite simply, as is suggested, to give this earlier right of inspection of the valuation list. If my right hon. Friend is not able to be sympathetic to this Amendment, it may be that, subject to your acquiescence, Sir Rhys, I shall have to seek to trouble the Committee again on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" with rather fuller details of the alternative scheme which I have in mind. If my right hon. Friend—this may be the final argument to topple the scale—is able to accept the Amendment, I shall be able to deny the Committee what would otherwise, in their view, no doubt, be that pleasure.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys
I have had the nod from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Mr. Walker-Smith), but I think that I ought to explain the Government's position in regard to the Amendment. I quite understand the reasons which have prompted my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) to put forward the Amendment, but the fact remains that the principle and the considerations which led us to abolish the draft valuation lists do apply, though 76 perhaps to a lesser extent, to the publication of the lists in January.
It has been said that it is right that the ratepayers should know in January what they will in any case know in April; but one could say that it is right that they should know in October what they will in any case know in April. We have accepted the principle, and only a short while ago we have taken the decision in regard to the future—and in the speeches which have been made it has been indicated that the Committee has accepted the decision—that the draft valuation lists are at any rate not to operate in regard to the present revaluation. We will see what the experience is and it will be decided afterwards whether to reinstate the draft lists for the valuation in 1961.
An additional argument has been put forward that it is not right that this information should be in the hands of the local authorities for three months during which it is denied to the ratepayers. In addition, it has been said, either outside the House or during Second Reading, that leakages would no doubt take place as from January onwards, when these matters came to be discussed.
I feel that the arguments which led us to do away with the draft valuation lists, the arguments that they would tend to create unnecessary anxiety and alarm, which the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) described as high blood pressure, needlessly early among the ratepayers, apply to the proposition that is before us now. I must recognise, however, that they apply to a lesser extent. There is a difference between three months and six months, and there is also a difference between a period in which a great number of people will know about these lists as compared with the period when they are in the very secret hands of the Board of Inland Revenue.
I wondered whether the right thing would be for me to say to the Committee that I would reconsider the position before the Report stage. I think it is only right—certainly it is my way of working—that when the Committee expresses itself, without any contrary voice whatever, in support of a certain proposal, then, unless there are very strong objections, the Government ought to take some notice of what the Committee says. Therefore, I have decided, in listening to the debate, not to say that I 77 will reconsider the matter, but that I will accept the Amendment as it stands. That is what I recommend my hon. Friends to do.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I am astonished at this performance. I am sure that the Committee generally will be equally astonished. We noticed in the last Division that the numbers on the Government side were substantially fewer that might have been expected considering the result of polling day, but one did not think the sands would be running out quite as fast as they have done.
What has the right hon. Gentleman said? He has said that the reasons for having had the Clause drawn as it is without the Amendment are exactly the reasons which led the Government to withdraw the draft list altogether, and he said at the beginning of his argument just now that he could not distinguish between the arguments in the one case and the arguments in the other. He having rejected them in the first case, we expected him then to reject them in the second case, too, because, he said, in principle they were exactly the same. However, then he went on to say there was a difference and the difference was that between three months and six months.
§ Mr. Sandys
If the hon. Gentleman had made that speech earlier, I might have not accepted the Amendment.
§ Mr. Silverman
That is exactly what I was explaining to the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman, by his intervention just now, has shown that he has been influenced in his acceptance of the Amendment by not having appreciated the force of his own earlier argument against it. He certainly did not, until I pointed it out to him, and then he felt a new wave of confidence in the earlier argument which induced him to draft the Clause in this way, and he is beginning to have second thoughts about whether he ought to accept the Amendment or not. However, I do not want to delay the Committee. The 1922 Committee has won a triumph, and far be it from me to belittle it or stand in its way. However, it does seem to be a very frivolous way 78 for the Government to approach a very serious matter.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In page 2, line 38, leave out paragraphs (a) and (b) and insert "immediately upon receipt thereof."[Mr. Page.]
§ Mr. Blackburn
I beg to move, in page 3, line 11, to leave out "the year" and to insert "three months."
I hope the Minister is in the same cooperative attitude and that the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has not hardened his heart. I hope I shall not be considered inconsistent because I objected very strongly to the abolition of the draft valuation list and am now moving an Amendment which reduces the period during which appeals can be made. I would make it clear that I do oppose the abolition of the valuation list, that I do not accept any of the arguments put forward by the Minister, and that I do not accept even the argument on the time factor that the Minister said he did not put forward.
Now, however, I am looking at this problem from the point of view of the local authorities. I do not think the Amendment would be any disadvantage to the ratepayers, because I am quite convinced that every ratepayer will decide almost immediately after seeing the list whether he will make an appeal or not. He certainly will not need to delay 12 months. He will certainly be able to decide within three months.
This proposal is an outcome of a question I asked the Minister during Second Reading. I ask him to make a statement with regard to the financial position of the local authorities. I think the Minister under-estimated the problem, because he said:I do not think there will be any substantial difficulty for local authorities."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June, 1955; Vol. 542, c. 916.]Under the Bill local authorities are not to be able to levy a higher rate than there would have been in the previous year if there had been no re-assessment, once an appeal has been made, and that means that in many cases local authorities will not know how much money they will be able to take. It is quite reasonable, of course, that until a proposal has 79 been settled the amount recoverable shall not exceed the total amount of the rate levied on the hereditament for the last year for which the list came into force. That is reasonable.
However, let us consider the position of the local authorities. If at any time during that year ratepayers can make appeals against the assessments, it will not be until the end of the year that the local authority will know exactly what appeals are being brought forward. It is quite reasonable to expect ratepayers within three months to have made their appeals if they are going to appeal. I hope the Minister will realise the financial difficulty in which the local authorities will be placed and will have another look at this matter and will bring to bear upon this problem the same sympathy he extended to his hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page).
This Amendment does not affect a vital principle of the Bill, but it would give considerable help to the local authorities. I am certain many Members on both sides of the Committee have had this matter put to them by their own local authorities. I hope the Minister will be prepared to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Sandys
Frankly, I do not feel as sympathetic towards this proposal, for the simple reason that it would remove what may be regarded by many ratepayers as a very considerable advantage. People may be away at the time a list is altered. There may be some delay in their hearing about these things. Contrary to what one would think from listening to this debate, owners of property do not spend their whole time waiting for valuation lists to come in and waiting to go to the valuation offices to make inquiries about other people's property. People have other things to do. I think that three months is an unreasonably short time for ratepayers to consider their position and to make their appeals.
§ Mr. Sandys
The purpose of the Amendment is to shorten the period of uncertainty for local authorities and to avoid the difficulty of their perhaps being short of revenue during some months in the early part of the year, a difficulty 80 which might, conceivably, cause them to raise a loan on which they would have to pay interest. However, as I have said before, I do not think that the sums of money that will be involved will be appreciable. Nor do I believe that the anxiety or the uncertainty in the minds of local authorities will be very great.
As I have indicated to the Committee, these proposals were fully discussed with the local authorities, and the local authorities' associations raised a number of points about them, but this was not one on which there was difficulty. [Interruption.] As far as I am aware, the Government have not received representations from any of the associations of the local authorities in regard to this matter since the publication of the Bill. In any case, I would not think it right to deprive the ratepayer of a right which, I think, might be of considerable importance to him. I hope that the hon. Member will not press his Amendment.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Lindgren
The Minister has forgotten that the progress of the Bill has been as rapid as it has been. He has just given to the ratepayer, quite rightly—and we commend him for it—the right of inspection of the list for three months. Those three months, plus the three months suggested in my hon. Friend's Amendment, make six months. That is a considerable advantage to the ratepayer. The Minister has made an excuse about people who go away for holidays. He knows some who go away for three months' holiday, but they are not the majority of the ratepayers.
It should also be remembered that rates are payable on demand. I do not suggest that everybody pays them on demand, but they are so payable and should be so paid, otherwise local authorities tend to get into difficulties in meeting the wages of their staffs, and so on. If the Minister is not prepared to compromise on the period of twelve months, which is too long and leaves the local authority in suspense for longer than is necessary, and is not prepared to extend the three months to four or six, I must advise my hon. Friends to vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. Kenneth Thompson (Liverpool, Walton)
I hope that my right hon. Friend will not be lured by smooth assurances or by the somewhat savage threats 81 of the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren). The Committee has a duty to the ratepayers to see that their interests are protected. It is not long since hon. Members opposite worked themselves into a synthetic lather about the rights of ratepayers being filched from them by the Tory Party. We settled all that and the will of the House of Commons was expressed satisfactorily on my right hon. Friend's proposal. The Committee would be departing altogether from its proper care of the interests of the ratepayers if it were to shorten the period of time in which they can make an appeal.
We must remember that we are not always dealing with clever or well-advised people. Ratepayers are often simple or ordinary people. On the other hand, they do not go away for three months' holiday and certainly not between December and March. They are, however, often very slow to appreciate where their interests lie and what jeopardy they might be in.
§ The Committee has to consider the interests of people like that, but if we accept the Amendment and reduce this period to three months or accept the somewhat oddly termed "compromise" of four months, suggested in an interjection by the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn), the local authority would still not know with any precision what its rate would be.
§ The very nature of the Bill, and the fact that it enables the ratepayer to appeal and not to be prejudiced in his financial position until his appeal has been resolved, means that the local authority will not know precisely until all the appeals are out of the way what its rate will be. I think that this is a manœuvre on the part of hon. Members opposite and I hope that my right hon. Friend will not fall for it.
§ Question put, That "the year" stand part of the Clause:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 248, Noes 190.85
|Division No. 3.]||AYES||[6.5 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. F. C.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Crouch, R. F.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood)||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)|
|Ashton, H.||Cunningham, S. K.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Atkins, H. E.||Currie, G. B. H.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Danoe, J. C. G.||Hay, John|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Davidson, Viscountess||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Balniel, Lord||Davies, Rt. Hon, Clement(Montgomery)||Heath, Edward|
|Barber, Anthony||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Deedes, W. F.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.|
|Barter, J. W.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. MCA.||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Drayson, G. B.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Holt, A. F.|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Duthle, W. S.||Horobin, Sir Ian|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Bishop, F. P.||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Black, c. W.||Errington, Sir Eric||Howard, John (Test)|
|Body, R. F.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Fell, A.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Fisher, Nigel||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Flcetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. Sir Norman|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Foster, John||Hurd, A. R.|
|Braine, B. R.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Freeth, D. K.||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Irvine, Godman (Rye)|
|Bryan, P.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Glover, D.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Godber, J. B.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Cough, C. F. H.||Keegan, D.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Cower, H. R.||Kerby, Capt. H. B.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Graham, Sir Fergus||Kerr, H. W.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Grant, W. (Woodside)||Kershaw, J. A.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Kirk, P. M.|
|Cole, Norman||Green, A.||Lagden, G. W.|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Gresham Cooke, R.||Lambert, Hon. C.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Grimond, J.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Leavey, J. A.||Oakshott, H. D.||Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Leburn, W. G.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Teeling, W.|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Page, R. G.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Pitman, I. J.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Pott, H. P.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Powell, J. Enoch||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Raikes, Sir victor||vane, W. M. F.|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Ramsden, J. E.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Rawlinson, P. A. G.||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Redmayne, M.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wade, D. W.|
|Maddan, M.||Ronton, D. L. M.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Rippon, A. G. F.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Robertson, Sir David||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Marples, A. E.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Mathew, R.||Roper, Sir Harold||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Maude, Angus||Russell, R. S.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Mawby, R. L.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Sharpies, Maj. R. C.||Williams, Rt. Hn. Charles (Torquay)|
|Medlicott, Sir Frank||Shepherd, William||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Soames, Capt. C.||Wood. Hon. R.|
|Nairn, D. L. S.||Spearman, A. C. M.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Neave, Airey||Speir, R. M.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Nield, Basil (Chester)||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich,W.)||Mr. Studholme and|
|Nugent, G. R. H.||Storey, S.||Mr. R. Thompson.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Deer, G.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Albu, A. H.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hunter, A. E.|
|Allaun, F. (Salford, E.)||Dodds, N. N.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Donnelly, D. L.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Anderson, Frank||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Irving, S. (Dartford)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Janner, B.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Balfour, A.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(Holbn & St.Pancs,S.)|
|Bartley, P.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, Rt. Hon.A.Creech (Wakefield)|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)|
|Benson, G.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, James (Wrexham)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Fienburgh, W.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Finch, H. J.||Kenyon, C.|
|Bcardman, H.||Forman, J. C.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Lawson, G. M.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Gibson, C. W.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Gooch, E. G.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Grey, C. F.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Burke, W. A.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Logan, D. G.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||MacColl, J. E.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mclnnes, J.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hale, Leslie||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Carmichael, J.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead)||McLeavy, F.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hamilton, W. W.||Mahon, S.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hannan, W.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Clunie, J.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Hastings, S.||Mason, Roy|
|Collins, V.J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Hayman, F. H.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Healey, Denis||Messer, Sir F.|
|Cove, W. C.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly-Regis)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Hobson, C. R.||Monslow, W.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Holman, P.||Moody, A. S.|
|Daines, P.||Holmes, Horace||Morrison,Rt.Hn.Herbert(Lewis'm,S.)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Moss, R.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Moyle, A.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hubbard, T. F.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. p. (Derby, s.)||Ross, William||Warbey, W. N.|
|Oliver, C. H.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Weitzman, D.|
|Oram, A. E.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wells, Peroy (Faversham)|
|Oswald, T.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Owen, W. J.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||West, D. G.|
|Padley, W. E.||Skeffington, A. M.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne valley)||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Sorenson, R. W.||Willey, Frederick|
|Parker, J.||Sparks, J. A.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Paton, J.||Steele, T.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Pearson, A.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Peart, T. F.||Stones, W. (Consett)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Swingler, S. T.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Probert, A. R.||Sylvester, G. O.||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Rankin, John||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Reid, William||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Rhodes, H.||Tomney, F.|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Viant, S. P.||Mr. A. Allen and Mr. Short.|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Houghton
I wish to comment on the administrative consequences of the acceptance by the Minister and by the Committee of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page). That Amendment gives the ratepayer the power of inspection of the draft lists when they are delivered to the local authorities—which will he at the end of the year—but the ratepayer will have no statutory right of appeal until the lists become effective on or about 1st April.
I am sure that the Minister will have considered what will happen as the result of this change. I foresee that many rate-payers will inspect the draft list; they will have knowledge of the proposed new assessment, but will still be without knowledge of the proposed new rate poundage. The Minister himself explained that they will then possess information about assessment without possessing the equally material information about the rate poundage. What is to happen to local authorities, and more especially to the rating officers of the Inland Revenue during this period of three months?
My hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) drew a moving picture of ratepayers hurrying to their professional advisers to be told what to do about these new assessments. I can tell him at once that they will not run to their professional advisers at all—they would have to pay them. They will run to the local rating officers of the Inland Revenue for information about assessments. No fees will be charged and all available information will have to be given.
86 Has the Minister decided how he intends to safeguard the administration from the new imposition of considerable representations from ratepayers before the time for a statutory appeal has arrived? The Committee will probably realise that, although the draft lists will be open for inspection at the council offices or at the town hall, representations regarding the assessment will be of no avail there. They will be made only to the rating offices of the Inland Revenue, and there are many fewer rating offices than there are council offices and town halls. In fact, many ratepayers will be twenty-five miles from the nearest rating office, and there will be difficulties about travelling and about access to the rating office for the purpose of making representations.
Frankly, I believe that the Minister, by accepting the Amendment, has imposed a serious additional burden upon the valuation officers and both he and the Committee should know that. Despite the fact that I had strong representations from local authorities in my own constituency, I did not rise to oppose the Amendment of the hon. Member for Crosby. It seemed to be the mood of the Committee that this right of inspection of the list should be given to the ratepayers before it came into operation and before they had the right of appeal. The Committee should realise, however, that this change may mean some slowing down of the work of the rating officers of the Board of Inland Revenue when this critical time comes.
No one really knows what will happen when the new list comes into operation. There are no exceptional preparations for dealing with a flood of appeals. This 87 work has been going on quietly behind the scenes for several years and the public have had no access to the results of this work, and they will not have it until the draft list is published.
The Board of Inland Revenue has undoubtedly a severe testing time ahead in receiving appeals and in dealing with them expeditiously so that not only ratepayers but also local authorities will know where they are. If, as I strongly suspect, local chambers of commerce advise their members en masse to appeal against the assessments on commercial premises, the situation from the point of view of the Inland Revenue will be grave. It will not be easy for local authorities either, because an appeal, when submitted, immediately protects the ratepayer against paying more rates next year than he is paying this year, pending the settlement of his appeal.
So there could be quite a crisis confronting the rating officers of the Inland Revenue, and I am bound to voice the disquiet which I feel about the consequences of accepting the Amendment. When the time comes the Minister should make it clear to ratepayers that the right of inspection is given so that they may reflect on what they discover about their assessments, and so that they may take suitable advice about what they should do; but that they should refrain from exercising their right of appeal until the date for appeal comes round, which will be several weeks or months after the draft list is available for inspection by them.
I hope sincerely that if any problems arise from this, as I feel sure they will, the Committee will be made aware of them and that the Minister will do his best to ensure that this new right of inspection of the list before the right of appeal arises is used by ratepayers with common sense and in a reasonable spirit, so that they do not clog the machine before it is ready and available to deal with appeals arising on the list.
§ Mr. Sandys
There is always the other side to the penny, but I would like to say to the Committee that, whilst naturally I was influenced by what was said during the discussion, I had obviously taken the precaution in advance of consulting the Board of Inland Revenue regarding the administrative consequences 88 were I to decide to accept the Amendment. I can assure the Committee that they look upon the consequences of the adoption of the Amendment with equanimity.
There is no question of a crisis or of this Amendment having been accepted without due reflection as to its consequences. The only danger that I see is that there may be a possibility—and I look to hon. Members on both sides of the Committee if that should arise—that certain sections of the community may, when they see their increased assessments before hearing of the rate poundage, make last-minute attempts to get yet a further postponement of the revaluation. I do not think that would be in the interests of anybody. We must get this new valuation out of our system, see where we stand, and then consider any changes that may be necessary in the light of any injustices which may reveal themselves when the full facts are known.
Apart from that, I do not know of any serious administrative or other difficulties which are likely to arise. I feel sure that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) is unduly alarmed in this regard. However, he has made a useful suggestion that when the new list is published we should, by one means or another and as far as possible, bring to the notice of ratepayers the desirability of not taking hasty action. It would be better if they wait until they know what has bitten them before they decide whether to take action. I assure the hon. Gentleman that his suggestion will not be overlooked.
§ Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)
I think the Minister and the Board of Inland Revenue are surprisingly complacent about this matter. If they think that the millions of ratepayers in the country and the large number of trading organisations which will be affected will sit down quietly for two or three months after they have inspected the draft valuation list, the right hon. Gentleman is sadly mistaken.
I believe that all hon. Members will find their post-bags doubled or trebled when the list comes out, and the Board of Inland Revenue ought to see seriously about increasing its staff to cope with these difficulties when they arise. I speak as a local government officer who has suffered from the complacency of local 89 authorities in thinking that their existing staffs can cope with any emergency at any time and no matter how long it lasts.
§ Mr. Proctor
The Government are bringing a greater difficulty upon themselves in attempting to avoid a difficulty. I believe, with my hon. Friends, that we shall be faced throughout the country with a huge number of appeals, since it has been carefully explained in the House of Commons that people cannot possibly lose anything by appealing. Having explained that to them, what argument can we offer to them not to appeal?
What was required was information so that the business community could find out how much would be the rateable value increase in the area as well as how much their own valuation had increased. The Government, however, have given them no measure for arriving at that information. All they have been told is to keep quiet until they know what has bitten them. Well, they have a pretty good idea of what will bite them, and that is the possibility of valuations going up two, three or even as much as four times their present valuations. That has been stated definitely.
I have asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us information, from the samples that have been taken, as to what percentage increase has taken place on the valuation. So far I have received no reply, but the Minister could have got all that information if he had wished and could have had it laid before us, because the Government have all the necessary information from the valuations that have taken place up to the present. So they could have placed before the House of Commons a full report indicating the position.
This is tinkering with the problem, and I hope that my hon. Friends will express their disgust with this procedure by voting against the Clause.
§ Mr. J. A. Sparks (Acton)
I have listened with a great deal of perturbation to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and I feel that he has given away the basis of his case for the abolition of the draft lists. I am not impressed by the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has been advised by people who, as far as I can understand, have never yet had to handle this procedure. It is an entirely 90 new venture for the Board of Inland Revenue to be handling valuation. I do not know that they are competent to advise the right hon. Gentleman upon this matter. The people who really are competent to advise him are the local authorities who had to handle the problem before the Board of Inland Revenue took over.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) that if the Minister is going to permit ratepayers to inspect the list three months before the rate is levied, he is asking for an enormous amount of trouble and difficulty. Does he think he will appease ratepayers by telling them, when their assessments are anything from 20 per cent. to 100 per cent. higher than they were, "It is quite all right. You just keep quiet for three months, and then you will find that everything in the garden is lovely"? They just will not believe that tale. Even if they wait until 1st April until they know the rate poundage, they will still have had stored up in their minds for three months the suspicion that they are going to be "done." The net result of the new procedure will be that, for safety's sake, they will all appeal against their assessments.
This is to some extent a psychological problem. It would have been far better if the right hon. Gentleman had adhered to the procedure laid down in the Bill and permitted ratepayers to have knowledge of their assessments at such time as they became aware of the amount which they would have to pay in rates, for that would be sensible. However, if the Government are now going to give ratepayers three months for their resentment, anger and suspicion to boil up, all that cannot be dispelled in a day or two when people get their rate demand.
The Minister has completely thrown away the case that he had for the abolition of the draft valuation list. The basis of his case for abolishing that procedure was that not to do so would overcrowd the valuation courts as it would invite a great flood of appeals. It was said that, in order to avoid a flood of appeals, it was necessary that ratepayers should not be aware of their reassessments until such time as they knew the actual amount they would have to pay in rates, it being 91 suggested that when ratepayers knew how much they would actually have to pay they would be more or less satisfied with their assessment, provided that the increase, if there was an increase, was not unreasonable. However, the right hon. Gentleman has completely thrown that away, and he might just as well return to the principle of the draft valuation list, because the net effect will be precisely the same.
As I said, this is a psychological problem. It is not one for the Board of Inland Revenue, with all its vast knowledge, sitting away up at the top of Mount Everest, divorced from the feelings of ordinary men and women who have to battle with these problems and do not understand the intricacies of our rating and valuation system.
§ Mr. Sparks
I am very pleased that my hon. Friend agrees with me. With all due respect to those gentlemen, I do not think they are in a position to give an accurate assessment about what they are advising the Minister to do. I feel that the Minister is making an awful lot of trouble for himself and for local authorities by giving way on an issue like this, which was the basis of his case for putting an end to the principle of the draft valuation list.
§ Mr. Pannell
This really shows that the Minister has not known what he has been doing. The Minister came from the Ministry of Supply to his present office, and the previous holder of the office went from local government to a foreign field. I often twitted the previous holder of the office to the effect that the problems of local government would never be left to him. Although he never said anything, I often thought he was saying under his breath, "Sez you!", or something like that.
The present Minister came into this job, and almost the first thing he got hold of—[Interruption.] I heard a very interesting comment then. What I am saying is far more interesting than the sort of infantile lisping that I often hear from the benches opposite.
§ Mr. Pannell
The first job the Minister took hold of was the Exchequer subsidy for housing. The House was pretty generous to him on that occasion. Now he has come here with this matter. We have had a long exposition from him—we have had not one Second Reading but two Second Readings—and now we have heard him speak again, presumably from a brief prepared in his Department, and it has shown that he has given way on the second issue. He did not know what he was walking into.
I can speak with some knowledge of the curious history of rating and valuation, because I was the chairman of a rating and valuation committee as far back as 1929. [Interruption.] We always hear the dark brown voice of the barrow boy when people are speaking on subjects they know something about. In those days we used to find that the rating committees were full of builders, and, generally speaking, local authorities had to make their way through a maze of local vested interests. Eventually the matter was put on a county basis. I sat for some time on the valuation committee of the County of Kent, which had very great difficulty in marrying various assessments, even in the case of such a common denominator as the prefabricated house. One would have thought that such houses would have had similar valuations throughout the county, but they did not. Assessments in respect of even small properties used to become a matter of concern and controversy.
As a result of what the Minister is proposing to do, I foresee chambers of commerce advising their members to go to the inspectors, who will then pass the cases on to the Minister, and we shall have Conservative Members of Parliament subject to pressure towards the time of the municipal elections.
I remember an instance which exemplifies the extent to which such matters as these can rock local authorities. Many years ago in Eastfield Road, Waltham-stow, there was a dairy at which there was so much noise during the night that the tenants of adjacent properties had £2 taken off their assessments. In addition, they obtained a writ in the High Court on the grounds of nuisance. The people 93 who had paid out twice, to the solicitors representing them in connection with the assessments and to the lawyers in the High Court case, somehow thought they were double-crossed.
§ Mr. Pannell
The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. F. Harris), who has an Amendment down to the Bill, apparently has not even a nodding acquaintance with the subject.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North-West)
I am wondering what the hon. Gentleman was doing on the rating and valuation committee in 1929.
§ Mr. Pannell
I was practising the qualities of impartiality which have characterised me before and since. I remember, too, the time when Sir Rowland Blades was Lord Mayor of London——
§ Mr. K. Thompson
On a point of order. I wonder if you will tell us for the record, Mr. Hoy, how much of this is in order.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. James H. Hoy)
We are discussing the Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," and the discussion can go a little wide but, I warn the Committee, not too wide.
§ Mr. Pannell
I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman who represents Walton Gaol in the House is an authority on keeping people in order.
I was referring to a gentleman who is now in another place from which we have much of our case law. Sir Rowland Blades was Lord Mayor of London, and he decided that he would celebrate his Lord Mayoralty by presenting a sports ground in the borough of Walthamstow. Merely by his presenting a sports ground which allowed an uninterrupted view over two miles, all the assessments of the houses backing on to that ground increased by £2. Cases like that and like Eastfield Road cause a terrific uproar in the local Press.
94 This will be magnified many times if the procedure is to be taken out of the hands of the local authorities and handed to the Board of Inland Revenue. The Board of Inland Revenue having taken it over, with its record of impartiality and the fact that it has terrific authority in this matter, I can see the Minister in for a very bad time indeed. He should not expect us to rescue him from the wrath to come. He must not expect us to do that when the Conservative majority so easily gained at the recent Election comes tumbling down.
§ Mr. Arthur Skeffington (Hayes and Harlington)
Before the Committee leaves this Clause, I should like to express my own regret that the Minister has not thought fit to secure for the future the possibility of returning to draft valuation lists. Some of us might agree that on this special occasion it might be worth while, purely on the grounds of administrative convenience, to dispense with draft lists. Even if that be the argument, and I do not think the case has been made out, I still cannot understand why the Minister has been so obdurate about the future, particularly when he made a concession on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), which makes the list available to the ratepayer at the same time as the local authority receives it.
I should like to place on record my own opposition to the abolition of the draft lists. I am certain that chambers of trade and ratepayers' associations and others who in the past have been able to render very great services to ratepayers by contrasting valuations, will not be able to do so until a very much later date, and then only as a result of piecemeal inquiry. I am not at all convinced that the flood of appeals which it was hoped to avert by the Minister's abolition of draft lists will be stopped. Any ratepayer who reads the deliberations of the Committee will know what it is best for him to do when he gets his first notice of assessment. Ratepayers' associations are bound to advise appeals.
We already know from the Sheffield case that, although rate poundage will come down under the new valuations, the actual cash demand is bound to go up. In the case of part of a shopping area in the centre of Sheffield where valuations—much against the advice of the 95 Minister's own Department, I understand—have already been made on current valuations, the actual rates paid have doubled in the case of shops of which I have personal knowledge. Quite obviously therefore, whether one takes the actual poundage that will be paid or the increased assessment, I am certain that there will be a large number of appeals.
There is one case with which the Minister has not dealt, although I raised it on the abortive Second Reading on 6th April, where groups of ratepayers will be placed at a serious disadvantage. Under Section 11 of the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, it is possible for a local authority, if it passes the requisite resolution, to obtain the payments of rates in respect of certain dwellings—I believe the limit of rateable value as a result of the Local Government Act, 1948, is now £18—from the owner. Under the procedure which is now being adopted, the first time that some occupiers will know that they are now responsible for the rates, because of the revaluation which has taken place, will be when they actually get their rate demand. They will have had no opportunity of looking at the list.
Because of a later Amendment, it may well be that a higher rateable value for this procedure will be secured. In that case there will be a number of owners who will be paying rates for the first time and whose first intimation will be when they get the rate demand. The absence of lists in these two cases will confer very great hardship on both those types of ratepayers. I referred to this topic on 6th April and asked the Minister to give me an answer, but he did not do so and I have had no answer since. I should be very grateful if even at this stage he would tell me what the position of these people will be, because they will certainly be under an even greater hardship than that suffered by the ordinary ratepayer.
I conclude by saying that the Clause and the discussion we have had on it, and the fact that when we are about to have the first general revaluation in a quarter of a century the Government have felt obliged to withdraw the draft lists, is an impressive commentary on the complete muddle and chaos of our rating 96 and valuation law. We on this side hope that the time will come when some of these anomalies can be swept away and a better and more just system produced.
§ Mr. Lindgren
I intervene in order to facilitate the Minister in getting the information for which he has been asked and to put before the Committee the difficulty in which the Minister has placed us. A little earlier we were prepared to be very generous to the Minister about the acceptance of the Amendment. It is not unknown for an Amendment to be judiciously accepted when it does not matter, because it makes people happy and often helps to get a Bill through much quicker.
I was prepared to think that the Minister knew the feeling of the House; in fact he said he was taking the feeling of the House and was surprised that there was not a voice raised against the Amendment, and that he was bound to take notice of that and accept the Amendment. We were prepared to be generous to him, but later, to meet the castigation on my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), the Minister let the cat out of the bag and said that he knew he was going to accept the Amendment because he had consulted the Board of Inland Revenue. One does not consult the Inland Revenue Department unless one is thinking of accepting an Amendment. One looks at the Amendment on the Order Paper in relation to the general principle of the Bill.
The general principle of the Clause is abolition of the draft valuation lists and the withholding from the ratepayer, whether domestic, business or shopkeeper, the knowledge of his property's rateable value until the rate poundage is known to avoid clogging the machinery of appeal. On the Second Reading on 6th April I said that, from a local government and an administrative point of view, it was a very attractive proposition; but now all that has gone. Now, instead of a person being in a position to know his new assessment in October, as he would have been under the 1948 Act, he will be in that position in January. The difference is that, instead of being able to consult the Inland Revenue and its valuers as to the basis of valuation and to discuss whether there has been any excess as between one property and another, instead of being 97 able to go into these semi-official consultations between October and April, he now cannot make anything but a definite appeal after 1st April.
The whole case for the abolition of the draft lists has gone. Perhaps it has been obvious to the Minister that there has been a difference between many of my colleagues and myself about whether or not, even for this time, the draft valuation lists ought to have gone. Many of my colleagues have said that we should have stood by the 1948 Act all the way through. I did not take that view, but the Minister has now supported them.
The Minister has made it even more difficult. The first series of Amendments, which the Chairman at the opening of our proceedings suggested that we should consider together, would have agreed that the abolition of the draft list for this valuation was acceptable but that for the future we must bring back the draft lists. In opposing these Amendments, the Minister said, "While we agree that this machinery is put in for this time, we have to have other Bills on valuation. Domestic properties must be revalued and we must deal with electricity and transport pools in further rating Bills. We ought to leave the pro-
§ posal to do away with the draft lists until we come to these future Acts of Parliament, and we will look at the question again then."
§ In reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), the Minister, as near as a Minister can give an undertaking, said that the titles of the Bills that were to come forward would be wide enough to permit the Amendment of the Rating and Valuation Acts to allow of the reintroduction of draft lists. We have had something even worse than the draft lists accepted by the Amendments made today. Therefore, from an administrative point of view, the Clause is much worse than it was when first introduced. The objection to it is now much more vivid. In view of the lack of assurance from the Minister guaranteeing the reintroduction of draft lists in future Bills, and in the light of the Amendments which have been accepted, I must advise my hon. and right hon. Friends to vote against the Motion.
§ Question put, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 252, Noes 203.101
|Division No. 4.]||AYES||[6.55 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Campbell, Sir David||Fisher, Nigel|
|Aitken, W. T.||Cary, Sir Robert||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (portsmth, W.)||Foster, John|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Cole, Norman||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)|
|Arbuthnog, John||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Freeth, D. K.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.|
|Ashton, H.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Glover, D.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Godber, J. B.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Craddook, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Balniel, Lord||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. F. C.||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Barber, Anthony||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. C. E.||Cower, H. R.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crouch, R. F.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Barter, J. W.||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Grant, W. (Woodside)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood)||Green, A.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cunningham, S. K.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Currie, G. B. H.||Grimond, J.|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Dance, J. C. G.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Davidson, Viscountess||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Biroh, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Davies,Rt.Hon.Clement(Montgomery)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bishop, F. P.||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Black, C. W.||Deedes, W. F.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Body, R. F.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. MCA.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Drayson, G. B.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macolesfd)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Braine, B. R.||Duthie, W. S.||Hay, John|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Heath, Edward|
|Bryan, P.||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Errington, Sir Eric||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Burden, F. F. A,||Fell, A.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Finlay, Graeme||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Maitland Cdr.J.F.W.(Horncastle)||Sharples, Maj. R. C.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Shepherd, William|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Holt, A. F.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Marples, A. E.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Mathew, R.||Speir, R. M.|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Maude, Angus||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Howard, John (Test)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewieham, N.)||Mawby, R. L.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich,W.)|
|Hughes, Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Storey, S.|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Studholme, H. G.|
|Hurd, A. R.||Molson, A. H. E.||Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Irvine, Godman (Rye)||Nairn, D. L. S.||Teeling, W.|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Neave, Airey||Thomas, Rt. Hn. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Keegan, D.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Kerr, H. W.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Kirk, P. M.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Lagden, G. W.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Page, R. G.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Lambton, viscount||Panned, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Pitman, I. J.||Wade, D. W.|
|Leather, E. H. c||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Pott, H. P.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Leburn, W. G.||Powell, J. Enoch||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Raikes, Sir Victor||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Ramsden, J. E.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Rawlinson, P. A. G.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Redmayne, M.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)|
|Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Renton, D. L. M.||Williams, Rt. Hn. Charles (Torquay)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Rippon, A. G. F.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Robertson, Sir David||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool,S.)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Woollam, John Victor|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Roper, Sir Harold||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Russell, R. S.|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Mr. Oakshott and|
|Maddan, M.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Mr. R. Thompson.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Champion, A. J.||Fienburgh, W.|
|Allaun, F. (Salford, E.)||Clunie, J.||Finch, H. J.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Coldrick, W.||Forman, J. C.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Anderson, Frank||Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Gibson, C. W.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gooch, E. G.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Cove, W. G.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Grey, C. F.|
|Balfour, A.||Cronin, J. D.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bartley, P.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Daines, P||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E)||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hale, Leslie|
|Benson, G.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hannan, W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Deer, G.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)|
|Boardman, H.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hastings, S.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Dodds, N. N.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Donnelly, D. L.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Brookway, A. F.||Dye, S.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Holman, P.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Edelman, M.||Holmes, Horace|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Burke, W. A.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Howell, Denis (All Saints)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Carmichael, J.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Mort, D. L.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Moss, R.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Moyle, A.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Irving, s. (Dartford)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Steele, T.|
|Janner, B.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. p. (Derby, S.)||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn&St.Pncs, S.)||Oliver, G. H.||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Oram, A. E.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon, A. Creech(Wakefield)||Oswald, T.||Sylvester, G. 0.|
|Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Owen, W. J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Padley, W. E.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Jones, James (Wrexham)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Kenyon, C.||Pargiter, G. A.||Tomney, F.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Parker, J.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Parkin, B. T.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Lawson, G. M.||Paton, J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Pearson, A.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Peart, T. F.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Lewis, Arthur||Popplewell, E.||Weitzman, D.|
|Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Logan, D. G.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||West, D. G.|
|McColl, J. E.||Probert, A. R.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Mclnnes, J.||Proctor, W. T.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|McLeavy, F.||Rankin, John||Willey, Frederick|
|Mahon, S.||Reid, William||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Rhodes, H.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, Rt, Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Mason, Roy||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Ross, William||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Messer, Sir F.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Monslow, W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Moody, A. S.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Morrison,Rt.Hn.Herbert(Lewis'm,S.)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Short.|