§ 54. Mr. Cope
asked the hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker), as representing the Church Commissioners, what representations he has made to the Government about the cost to Church estates of the proposals to tax charities through the Development Land Tax Bill.
§ Mr. Terry Walker
None myself. This is a matter affecting other denominations besides the Church of England, and is therefore being handled by the Churches' Main Committee, on which the Church of England is represented. I understand that continual representations have been made by that Committee, including memoranda to the Ministers concerned, and deputations jointly with the National Council of Social Service and other charities to my right hon. Friends the Minister for Planning and Local Government, the former Paymaster-General and the Minister of State at the Treasury. Further representations are under consideration.
§ Mr. Cope
asked the hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker), as representing the Church Commissioners, whether the 583W Church Estates Commissioners will publish their estimate of the cost to the Church estates of the proposals to tax charities through the Development Land Tax Bill.
§ Mr. Terry Walker
It is not possible to provide an estimate of the cost to the Church of England of development land tax because the concessions given to Churches and charities postpone the incidence of the tax in particular situations.
The Bill exempts land owned by charities on White Paper day. As regards post-White Paper day land, the financial loss occasioned by development land tax cannot be estimated. The Bill also defers payment of development land tax on development of post-White Paper day land to be used for the purposes of a charity. In many cases Churches —and charities —are able to meet needs of a changing community by disposing of unwanted buildings and using the proceeds to provide new plant in areas of need. They fear that if on such a disposal deferred development land tax becomes payable, the proceeds will be insufficient to provide new buildings elsewhere. The potential cost to the Church is thus not only a matter of money but also of loss of mobility and effectiveness in its organisation.