First Schedule. — (Amendments relating to the principal Act generally.)

Part of Orders of the Day — War Damage (Amendment) Bill. – in the House of Commons on 18th June 1942.

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Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

I think if I develop the case my Noble Friend will see that there is something to be said for the other side. The point I was trying to make was that while there may be alteration in the letting value, the fact remains that if a value payment arose as a result of damage, that value payment would have reflected in it the March,1939, values and because of that, contributions are projected backwards to the 1939 Schedule A valuation. Although there is a change in letting value there is no change affecting the real value of the house. My Noble Friend says that in a row of houses there is a change in letting value because the lease of one has come to an end and the owner has occupied it. That is true, but it is only one instance of what this House and Parliament accepted in this rough and ready scheme. The alternative to accepting such a proposition is that you would have to go on revaluing the whole time and Parliament accepted the view that, if that were done, there would never be a scheme at all.

In one or two cases there may be hard luck, but my Noble Friend is in error in saying that there could be any upward revision during the war. He rather implied that the Government were getting the best of both worlds, because if there were an upward revision, we should get higher contributions under Schedule A. That is a misapprehension. There is no upward revision. There is downward revision, if there is a change of circumstances during the year, but there cannot be an upward revision unless it is done by a general revaluation. There has been no general revaluation during the war and there will not be one. Therefore, it is not right to say that we shall benefit by increased contributions as a result of revaluation. To that extent unfairness is not quite so extreme as he fears. If he asks, as I think he did, that contributions for a house let to a tenant in a row of houses should be the same as that for a house in which the owner lives, because the whole row is exactly the same, then of course we come back to the same position. It would involve reopening the contributory value of all the houses, and one would be led naturally on to the claim that the charge for similar houses let to tenants should be the same. In point of fact, similar houses are not necessarily let to tenants for the same rent, and, therefore, you come back to the point that we should require to have a complete reassessment. We have to remember that the Rent Restriction Act does bring its influence into the question of Schedule A valuation.

While one admits there are cases as between neighbour and neighbour where one person may be paying a higher contribution than another, the answer to that is we should have to have such a general revaluation that we could not proceed with the scheme at all. The scheme was brought in as a relief—a very welcome relief—to property-owners, and they accepted it On the basis that it was the best which could be done in a rough and ready way. I am prepared to admit there may be hard cases, or cases which appear to be hard, but on the other hand the fact that the payments are related to March, 1939, is not such a hardship as it would seem. If it is a hardship, I am afraid owners of property must tolerate it to the best of their ability, in view of the general advantages which flow to all property-owners, if their houses happen to be damaged. I, therefore, ask the House not to accept the Amendment.