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This is a very important Amendment, certainly from our point of view. We raised the point many times in Committee and on occasions the Minister said that he would consider it. We now have it in the form of an Amendment. It means, briefly, that the levy payer should not be called upon to pay the levy until he receives the money on which the levy is assessed.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) said yesterday that the Bill was just a matter of throwing the print on the paper. I have acquired a copy of the Bill from the printers' office and I find that they missed with the throw on this very page 50. On that page, the Bill is completely blank. It is a lot better that way. At least, I can understand the blank sheet. We have been quite unable to understand the jibberish in the Bill and it seems that the printers have also failed to understand it and have produced Bills with blank sheets. This copy of mine was one of them, on page 50. For greater accuracy, therefore, I had to obtain another copy to see what our Amendment does.
The date is described in subsection (1) as a date on which the principal amount of the levy accrues due. It accrues due on the date set out in either subsection (2) or subsection (3). As subsection (2) stands, the date would be the date specified in the assessment. By turning back to Clause 45, at the foot of page 46, we find that the notice of assessment has to include
a date (not being earlier than two months from the date of service of the notice) as the date on which the levy is charged.
The levy thus becomes payable after the chargeable act or event, after the chargeable event has been notified to the Commission and after the Commission has, perhaps, asked a few questions about it and has then issued the notice of assessment and specified in it a date not earlier than two months from the date of service of the notice.
Taking into account that period, which, I imagine, might be something like six months, even with expedition, it is hardly likely that a Case A would suffer from the Clause as it stands. Case A is where the vendor has sold the property and normally will have received the sale price or the consideration for the conveyance at the time he makes the conveyance.
Case B is a very different situation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Banff (Mr. Baker) pointed out in moving the Amendment, if property is let under a lease of seven years or more, which comes under Case B, the property is assessed to discover what net development value results from that letting. The assessment is made on that net development value. The net development value may be equal, as my hon. Friend has said, to a year's rent, it might be equal to more or less, but there is no doubt that unless a premium is paid, out of which the levy might be payable, the landlord will be called upon to pay the levy before he has realised the money on which the levy is assessed—that is, the rent of the property.
We would hope by the Amendment to require the Commission to spread the payment of the levy over the rent. It might be that if the amount of money was small, the landlord would wish to discharge it at once. If it was a large amount, it should be spread over the payments.
A transaction under Case C of a development is perhaps the hardest case. Immediately the developer starts a development, such as digging a trench for the foundation of his buildings, he is assessed for levy. It may be years before he realises the proceeds of that development in actual cash. Therefore, he will have to pay out the levy and wait until he finishes his development, and, perhaps, disposes of the property, before he gets the money on which the levy has been assessed
In Case D—compensation for revocation of planning permission—the amount of levy to become payable is to be assessed when the compensation accrues due to the owner whose planning permission has been revoked. This certainly does not mean, the date on which he is able to put money in his pocket. Those of us who have had experience of compensation cases know only too well that one can agree the figure but that it takes months and months to get the cash out of the statutory undertakers or the local authority. So the levy payer will have to make payment of his levy before he receives the cash on which the levy is assessed.
The same will apply in Case E where easements may have been granted on an annual licence fee, which is a very frequent form of transaction. The assessment will be made on the value of the property in relation to that transaction and levy will have to be paid probably before the receipt of the money on which the levy is assessed.
Case F will relate amongst other things to pipe lines. One does not receive a premium for a pipe line being laid through one's property; it is always done as a matter of licence fee annually or based on other periods, and the same applies as in the case of letting.
The problem arises from the fact that the Government obstinately have refused to treat the levy as any form of tax and apply normal tax laws to it. They have