Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, as a result of recent decisions by the Lands Tribunal, the link between different forms of residential property is becoming extremely tenuous? Does he agree that the only evidence allowed normally is in respect of the same sort of residential property and that it only extends to a general comparison if the first kind of evidence is not adequate? Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the evidence for flats which is taken into account in my constituency does not take due regard of the fact that 600 or more flats are unoccupied?
I do not think that there is anything new in the decisions of the Lands Tribunal. They merely confirm what has long been recognised to be the basis of assessment. This basis is being considered in the Government's review of local government finance, including the rating system.
The object of bringing rating assessments under the Inland Revenue Department was to obtain greater uniformity between regions. This is not easy to achieve, but generally the Department is satisfied that it is achieving it, and the results of appeals to the Lands Tribunal would seem to confirm that.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the fact that the capital value of a property reflects the discounted value of its future rents, he will take steps to allow selling prices to be used as a check on estimates of notional rents calculated for valuation purposes.
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman consider making this sort of comparison in the review into the rating system which is taking place in view of the discrepancies between the ratios of selling price and the notional rent?
Is it not true that if the basis suggested by the hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) were adopted it would result in the rating system being a great deal less regressive than it is at the moment?
Yes, but the argument the other way, which is sometimes ignored, is that capital values are very often an unreliable guide to rental values and would not necessarily themselves be a satisfactory basis either.