Clause 7. — (Reduction of Rates on Dwellings by Reference to the Domestic Element.)

Local Government (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th November 1966.

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8.15 p.m.

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock

I beg to move Amendment No. 18, in page 6, line 36, at the end to insert: and premises which would have been so entered if domestic water rate had been leviable in respect of them.(4) For the purposes of this section the gross annual value and rateable value attributable to the last mentioned premises shall, in accordance with the provisions of section 6 of the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act 1956, be determined by the assessor for the area in which the premises are situated and shall be entered in the valuation roll; any such determination shall be subject to appeal under the Valuation Acts and shall accordingly be notified to the occupier of the premises and to the rating authority concerned within the times for the issue of notices set out in Schedule 2 to the said Act of 1956'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

It would be convenient, I think, to discuss, at the same time, Amendment No. 17, in page 6, line 34, after 'dwelling house' insert: 'means premises used wholly or mainly for residential purposes and'.

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock

Clause 7 ensures that domestic rate relief is given, not only on ordinary dwelling houses, but also on the domestic part of mixed properties—for example, a house and shop combined—which are not entered in the ordinary valuation roll as dwelling houses but are, fortunately, so entered for purposes of water rating. The Amendment extends these arrangements to the domestic part of mixed premises which are not entered for water rate purposes for the simple reason that they do not have a public water supply. The typical example would be a house-cum-shop in the Highlands, or other country areas. It is not expected that there will be many in this category, but it is only fair that their occupants should get domestic rate relief on the part which they occupy as a house.

The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) drew this matter to my attention in Committee, and I am grateful to him for doing so. He criticised our device of using the Water (Scotland) Act. The first defect of his suggestion was that full domestic rating relief was given on the entire premises, even if a considerable part was not domestic. Secondly, it would not provide any means of deciding what premises were mainly used for domestic purposes. By using the machinery of water rate assessment as proposed in the Bill and this Amendment we get over both these difficulties at considerably less length than in the English Bill, which prescribed separate machinery.

Amendment No. 17 is paralleled by a Government Amendment in more precise terms. The purpose is simply to cover the point which was made in Committee. The defect of the Amendment is that if a property is used only as a house to the extent of, say, 60 or 70 per cent., the property as a whole would still get the full domestic relief, whereas under Amendment No. 18 the rateable value attributable to the domestic part is properly apportioned by the assessor and the domestic relief is payable on that only.

Another material defect of Amendment No. 17 is that it might well extend the benefit of rates reductions far beyond what is understood by the term "dwelling-house". For example, hotels and lodging houses are premises used for residential purposes, and it is certainly not intended that they should get the benefit. It was not intended by hon. Members opposite, and certainly it is not intended by us.

While I accept that Amendment No. 17 seeks to make the point which was made in Committee, I hope that the Opposition will agree that Amendment No. 18 proposes a better way of dealing with it.

Photo of Mr Norman Wylie Mr Norman Wylie , Edinburgh Pentlands

In the context of Clause 7, we feel that Amendment No. 18 is the more appropriate Amendment. Amendment No. 17 was merely a feeler to draw attention to what appeared to be a gap in the drafting.

Amendment agreed to.