§ 1 and 43. Mr. Rhodes
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many of the 2,500 proposals for reduction in the rateable assessment of properties in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which were still awaiting a hearing on 19th January, 1965, have yet to be dealt with by the Valuation Panel;
§ (2) whether he will institute an inquiry into the rating valuation procedure and work of the Inland Revenue valuation staff in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the light of the information submitted to him by the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Niall MacDermot)
There were about 2,000 proposals for reduction awaiting hearing. I am looking into the information sent by my hon. Friend and will write to him.
§ Mr. Rhodes
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that many ratepayers in Newcastle-upon-Tyne consider that the valuation officer has been indulging in delaying tactics as regards their appeals and that they are being actively dissuaded from appealing against their assessments? Will he carefully examine the evidence I have given to him and the further evidence which is on the way which shows that my constituents consider that the dice has been loaded against them?
§ Mr. MacDermot
I shall certainly look into all the matters which my hon. Friend 1081 has referred to me. I must point out, however, that it is not an uncommon allegation made against valuation officers that they have brought pressure to bear on people to settle their cases when, in fact, they have made perfectly normal and proper attempts to negotiate a settlement. It is obviously desirable that as many cases as possible should be settled by negotiation rather than that all the time, trouble and expense of court hearings should be involved.
§ Mr. R. W. Elliott
Is the Financial Secretary aware that many people in Newcastle who are, quite understandably, hoping for a reduction in their assessments are principally concerned about the high cost of local Labour government and are wondering what has happened to Labour's election proposal to move a higher percentage of expenditure from the local authorities to the Exchequer?