HL Deb 28 May 1897 vol 49 cc1503-4

Considered in Committee.

On the Motion "That the Bill be Reported without Amendment,"


On the Debate on the Second Reading my noble Friend opposite, Lord Kimberley, expressed some apprehension that one effect of the Bill might be to induce the local authorities unduly to lower the assessment. I have made some inquiry into that matter, and I do not think there is any real ground for my noble Friend's apprehension. In the first place, it is one of the duties of the Income Tax Commissioners, and one which I am informed they very carefully discharge, to prevent any such action on the part of the local authorities, and to do all they can to prevent it. Another reason is that the Education Rate is only one of a great many rates, and in most cases only a very small fraction of the whole amount of the local expenditure; therefore the local assessment committee would have very little object in unduly lowering the valuation, because such a proceeding on their part would apparently raise very greatly the amount of all the other rates which it was their duty to levy. I do not, therefore, think there is much foundation for the apprehension my noble Friend expressed.


I am afraid I cannot accept that explanation as in any way meeting the case. I must point out, in the first place, that the Income Tax Commissioners have no power whatever over the assessment except as regards the income tax. In the second place, there really is no force in the argument which my noble Friend used, because it is perfectly indifferent to the ratepayers in any given district whether the assessment is high or low, because if it is equally distributed between one property and another as a fair assessment the amount between them will be exactly the same thing. I did not mean to imply that it was likely to be done to a large extent, but it is possible that it may occur.

Bill reported without amendment; Standing Committee negatived; and Bill to be Read 3a on Monday next.