Local Government Bill
Lord Pendry (Labour)
My Lords, I support this important amendment and I add my voice to those who have congratulated the Government on listening to those of us who have argued for years for mandatory rate relief for voluntary sports clubs.
I was particularly pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, confessed at Report stage that he was,
"not aware of the 65 per cent mandatory relief in Northern Ireland"—[Official Report, 16/7/03; col. 932.]
with regard to voluntary clubs. He said that he would review the situation, which he did. I pay tribute to the excellent work of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, who has been a great campaigner on the issue for many years, as has the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. Our congratulations must go to them. The CCPR and Nigel Hook have also been mentioned. His voice has been loud and clear on the matter. I do not wish to say much more except that common sense has prevailed. I refer to the benefits that accrue to the people of Northern Ireland as a result of this mandatory rate relief and to the local and wider communities. As the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, Northern Ireland now has some catching up to do as a result of the amendment. I welcome it wholeheartedly.