I beg to move Amendment No. 24, in page 12, line 4, to leave out
'manner of occupation and use'
'mode or category of occupation'.
This is a drafting Amendment to ensure that Clause 15, on valuation according to the general tone of the valuation roll, works as intended. Under the tone of the roll procedure, the "relevant factors" are to be taken as they actually are at the time the property is valued, while general market values are to be taken as at the time of the previous general revaluation,
and subsection (2) of the Clause includes among relevant factors
the manner of occupation and use
of the lands and heritages.
The inclusion of the word "use" might be taken to mean that the assessor is to assume that the premises which he is valuing can be used only for the purpose for which they are actually being used, which would considerably depress the value they would attract in the open market. The Amendment therefore substitutes the phrase
mode or category of occupation".
This is a phrase which has been used by the Lands Tribunal, and it forms a useful precedent.
I do not know whether I understood clearly what the Under-Secretary was saying. Does the Amendment mean that a building which was being used as a house might, for the purpose of valuation, be turned into an office? I thought that in valuation a house had to be valued as a dwellinghouse and that its use could not be changed. I may have misunderstood the hon. Gentleman, but he seemed to me to indicate that a valuer could consider a change of use. If the change were merely from one kind of shop to another, I would not quarrel, but if the alteration means that a dwellinghouse could be used as a shop or office this would be a very great change.
It is not really a great change, but I am advised that it is a question of interpretation of the words. The phrase
mode or category of occupation
is a phrase which was used in a recent Lands Tribunal case, admittedly an English case, but it makes a useful precedent in clarifying the position.
Because of the word "use", we feel that there is danger that the assessor is to assume that the premises which he is valuing can be used only for that one purpose. I will not go into all the social complications with which the hon. Member is concerned. It is important to make sure that the assessor does not make his judgments on false assumptions because of bad Parliamentary phraseology. I am sure that the hon. Member will endorse this object right away.