Clause 27. — (General Provisions as to Betterment Levy.)

Orders of the Day — Land Commission Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th January 1967.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough 12:00 am, 25th January 1967

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the words so restored to the Bill, in page 31, line 33, to leave out 'first appointed day' and to insert 1st January 1968'.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

With this Amendment we can take all the related Amendments in page 32.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I put forward these Amendments on two grounds. The first and most important is the human angle. Many little people will be hurt considerably unless the appointed day is postponed from 6th April this year to 1st January, 1968. They will be asked to pay sums out of their own pockets which it is quite impossible for them to find.

In case the right hon. Gentleman thinks that this is a figment of my imagination, I can give him a constituency case, about which I have had the opportunity of consulting his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. A constituent of mine saved up and managed to buy a single building plot half an acre in extent with planning permission for a house. The deal was completed in April of last year. This man and his wife, by dint of saving, managed to get together the purchase price and, with the aid of a bank loan, provided £2,100 to buy the land. Their intention was to hold on to this plot for a few years until they had had a chance to save some more money to build their own house on this plot, with the aid of a mortgage, and spend the last years of their lives in retirement in the Leicestershire countryside.

If the first appointed day is not postponed to 1st January, 1968, or later these people and countless others in a similar position will be faced with the necessity to find another £800 in development levy, unless they start to build by 6th April of this year. I wrote to the Minister and to my constituents. I told my constituents that their best bet was to get cracking with the foundations of the house as soon as possible or certainly before the appointed day, and their tragic answer was that it was impossible for them to get the plans for their house prepared and passed by an architect in the few weeks which remain before 6th April. That is the human angle to the Amendment.

10.45 p.m.

My second reason is an appeal to the Minister to show some common sense in the face of the growing national concern as to how the Commission will operate. Noble Lords in another place and hon. Members of this House, on both sides, have said that people in the country do not understand the provisions of the Bill. All that is required of the Minister is a little common sense and understanding. I do not think that we are asking too much.

He showed a good deal of common sense and appreciation not long before Christmas in response to an approach by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre), who brought him cogent evidence of a hundred professional experts in Birmingham who were baffled by the Bill and could not understand it. Faced with this dramatic evidence, the Minister had the good sense to realise that more time must be given to the accountants, valuers, surveyors and other experts so that they might try to understand it, and he postponed the first appointed day by five weeks. I am confident that my plea tonight will not fall on stony ground. He has already once shown the good sense for which I am asking and I am sure that he will see the sense of the argument and postpone the appointed day for a further period. The speech in another place of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has been mentioned, but I make no apology for pointing out that he was the architect of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, and that he is a friend of the Minister, and that in the debate on the Bill in another place, on 28th November, 1966, he asked Members of another place Would any material damage be done by deferring the first appointed day.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

Order. The hon. Member is not entitled to quote speeches made in another place.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

I am obliged for your correction, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was about to quote another two sentences but in view of your Ruling I will not do so. However, his remarks were reported in the newspapers the following day. They reported Lord Silkin as having asked whether any material change would come about as a result of deferring the first appointed day. It was stated that he had suggested "No"—that there would not. Lord Silkin had said, they reported: Those people who fear what may come after the first appointed day have already taken such steps as they think right, and those are not the people I am concerned about. He went on, so it was reported in the Press, to say that he was concerned—

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

Order. I do not think it is in order for the hon. Member to quote, either directly or indirectly, what the noble Lord said in another place.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

I respect your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The effect of what Lord Silkin said in another place, as reported in the Press, can quite definitely be taken to indicate that he felt that the first appointed day should be postponed to either 1st January, 1968, or 1st October, 1967. He then gave the reasons why he thought the first appointed day should be postponed, but I will not pursue his remarks further.

Does not the Minister believe that it is in the country's and his own interest that it should be postponed? There is a risk that he will make an ass of himself in the eyes of the nation and Parliament if he does not do so, since how does he know that the first appointed day of 6th April, 1967, is the right one? After all, can he be sure that the Bill will have received the Royal Assent by that date? If he cannot be certain, then any appointed day which he fixes now may have no valid meaning.

The Amendments made in another place have received universal acclaim. That being so, I have asked these questions because their Lordships may decline to withdraw their Amendments, in which case, since they have the country behind them in this matter, they may decide to hold up this legislation until a date well beyond 6th April of this year.

To illustrate the type of support being voiced in the country for the Amendments made in another place, The Times wrote yesterday: The opposition in the Lords, ably and moderately guided by Lord Brooke of Cumnor, have made eight significant amendments to the Bill. Three have been accepted by the Government. On the merits of the others the Commons must now decide. With most of the points the weight of argument is decisively on the side of amendment. None of them is a wrecking amendment, none of them attacks the principles of the measure. The Government can afford to give ground and in the interests of sound legislation they should do so. This opinion is similar to opinion expressed elsewhere in the country. Their Lordships may decide to dig their heels in. They may realise that the country is behind them in their very sensible Amendments. If so, any date which the right hon. Gentleman may fix as the appointed day will be absolutely meaningless. I ask him carefully to bear in mind these words and, for this and other cogent reasons which he will get from this side of the House, to accept the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

I must first point out what the consequences of accepting this Amendment would be, apart from the more limited and parochial ones to which the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) referred. The removal from this Clause of the first appointed day would not affect the other Parts of the Bill. The Minister would be able to announce the appointed day for Part II, but there would be a different day for the betterment levy. This would make nonsense of the whole proceedings. That may have been the reason for the Amendment, but it was not moved in those terms. The effect would be to make the whole apparatus of the Bill unworkable.

It would be wrong to speculate about what would happen if another place dug their heels in. I do not know what kind of incitement the hon. Member was suggesting to another place. The appointed day should be as soon as possible after the Bill becomes law. There are many pressing reasons for getting on with the fixing of the first appointed day. Whenever one fixed it, there would be cases which would be disadvantaged. On the other hand, if we altered it that would bring protests from others who would then be disadvantaged. The Government have to use the best balance they can in relation to these matters.

During the interim period between publication of the White Paper and the first appointed day, dispositions cannot be used to create a Schedule 5 base value. This has certain repercussions and we wish to remove uncertainty as quickly as possible. The Commission has an enormous task in assembling parcels of land to meet the needs of the country. That is not assisted by delay after delay.

Without more information I would not accept the financial implications of the specific case mentioned by the hon. Member, but I think that the cases he had in mind would escape the levy. One has to balance the advantages of getting on with the major objectives. The view of the Government is that the first appointed day should be as soon after Royal Assent as possible. I could not advise the House to accept this Amendment and those associated with it.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

The Parliamentary Secretary must know that the staff cannot be obtained in a couple of months. A staff of 2,000 has to be collected. They have not yet been recruited and nothing is known about the district valuers. Secondly, it is quite impossible to get regulations made in time if the Minister is to have the consultations he should have with those concerned. Thirdly, the Bill will not work unless he has the cooperation of the professions who will have to put it into practice every day. He will not get that co-operation because they do not understand the Measure and have not time to learn about it between now and 6th April.

It is absolutely essential that this matter should be delayed. Such delay would not prevent the Commission assembling the land. If the operative day under Part III is postponed for nine months, it may be expected to come into operation with some reasonable chance of success. If, however, it is to come into operation on 6th April, I use the word which I have used so many times in connection with the Bill: there will be chaos.

11.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

It is important that the Minister should give careful consideration to the Amendments. I was sorry that he brushed them aside in the way that was done a few moments ago. There is no doubt that, whatever the merits or otherwise of the Bill may he, it is an extremely complicated Measure. It is one which is not readily understood even by people who have wide experience in matters of law, valuers and people who have been associated with the sale and purchase of land throughout their lives.

There can be no doubt of the force of the argument which the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) has just put to the House. I fail to see how it is possible for the Minister to assume that he can gather together an adequate staff to deal with all the complicated—

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

In answer to a Parliamentary Question only on Monday, I said that something like 1,800 people will be available in post by the first appointed day, 6th April, so that we anticipate no difficulty in getting on with the work on that score. I have made this clear and I am glad to get it on the record again.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. I leave that argument, because I accept that he has satisfied himself that there will be adequate staff to deal with this matter from his side of the fence.

Can the hon. Gentleman, however, satisfy the House that there will be an adequate number of valuers available to advise intending purchasers and vendors of land which may be sold or which may change hands by one means or another during the coming 12 months? I do not believe this to be the case. Every letter which I have received, not only from constituents, not only from intending purchasers, but also from many associations and respected bodies, indicates clearly that they believe that a Bill which by its very nature is as complicated and as difficult as this one will require considerable time to be assimilated and that it will be a considerable time before much of it is understood.

I recognise that these Amendments do not directly affect the question of the Land Commission. The organisation can go ahead with the planning and acquisition of land. The fact remains, however, that if the first appointed day is to be 6th April great anxiety will be caused to many people who are not in any sense land speculators—people who are buying houses in the way indicated by the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) in moving the Amendment. In addition, much needless work will be caused to people who are serious land developers, not only in the private sector, but in the public sector also. I think here of local authorities.

If the Parliamentary Secretary argues that there would be a serious loss of revenue, surely there is no reason why the Capital Gains Tax should not continue in effect by means of Finance Bill proposals by the Chancellor of the Exchequer so that it could remain in effect until the first appointed day if the Amendment, which has been proposed

very reasonably and which, I am sure, has much common sense in it to commend itself to the country, were accepted by the Government.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the words so restored to the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 163, Noes 102.

Division No. 256.]AYES[11.5 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Gourlay, HarryMoyle, Roland
Alldritt, WalterGregory, ArnoldNeal, Harold
Allen, ScholefieldGrey, Charles (Durham)Newens, Stan
Anderson, DonaldGriffiths, David (Rother Valley)Norwood, Christopher
Archer, PeterGriffiths, Will (Exchange)Ogden, Eric
Armstrong, ErnestHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)O'Malley, Brian
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)Haseldine, NormanOrme, Stanley
Bacon, Rt. Hn. AliceHazell, BertOswald, Thomas
Bence, CyrilHenig, StanleyOwen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Binns, JohnHooley, FrankPavitt, Laurence
Bishop, E. S.Horner, JohnPerry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Blackburn, F.Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Booth, AlbertHowie, W.Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Hughes, Roy (Newport)Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Brooks, EdwinHunter, AdamPrice, William (Rugby)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Hynd, JohnProbert, Arthur
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)Rhodes, Geoffrey
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)Robertson, John (Paisley)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Cant, R. B.Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Rose, Paul
Carmichael, NeilJones, Dan (Burnley)Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Coe, DenisJones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Coleman, DonaldKelley, RichardShort, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Concannon, J. D.Kenyon, CliffordSilkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Crawshaw, RichardLawson, GeorgeSilverman, Julius (Aston)
Cullen, Mrs. AliceLeadbitter, TedSkeffington, Arthur
Dalyell, TamLedger, RonSpriggs, Leslie
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)Lee, John (Reading)Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)Swingler, Stephen
Davies, Harold (Leek)Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)Taverne, Dick
Davies, Robert (Cambridge)Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Delargy, HughLomas, KennethThornton, Ernest
Dewar, DonaldLoughlin, CharlesTinn, James
Dickens, JamesLyon, Alexander W. (York)Urwin, T. W.
Dobson, RayMabon, Dr. J. DicksonVarley, Eric G.
Doig, PeterMcBride, NeilWainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Driberg, TomMcCann, JohnWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Dunn, James A.MacColl, JamesWatkins, David (Consett)
Dunnett, JackMacdonald, A. H.Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)McGuire, MichaelWellbeloved, James
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)Whitaker, Ben
Edwards, William (Merioneth)Mackintosh, John P.Whitlock, William
Ellis, JohnMaclennan, RobertWilkins, W. A.
Ennals, DavidMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Fernyhough, E.McNamara, J. KevinWilliams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)MacPherson, MalcolmWilliams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Mapp, CharlesWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)Marquand, DavidWoodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Forrester, JohnMendelson, J. J.Woof, Robert
Fowler, GerryMillan, BruceYates, Victor
Fraser, John (Norwood)Milne, Edward (Blyth)Zilliacus, K.
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Gardner, TonyMorgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Garrett, W. E.Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Mr. Joseph Harper and Mr. Ioan L. Evans.
Ginsburg, David
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Body, RichardClegg, Walter
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. JohnCooke, Robert
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir EdwardCurrie, G. B. H.
Baker, W. H. K.Brinton, Sir TattonDalkeith, Earl of
Batsford, BrianBromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir WalterDeedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonBrown, Sir Edward (Bath)Eden, Sir John
Bessell, PeterBuchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Biffen, JohnCarlisle, MarkElliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)
Eyre, ReginaldJopling, MichaelPrior, J. M. L.
Farr, JohnKimball, MarcusRamsden, Rt. Hn. James
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesKing, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Fortescue, TimKitson, TimothyRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Giles, Rear Adm. MorganKnight, Mrs. JillRussell, Sir Ronald
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Lubbock, EricSharples, Richard
Goodhart, PhilipMackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Goodhew, VictorMaddan, MartinSinclair, Sir George
Grant, AnthonyMaude, AngusSmith, John
Grant-Ferris, R.Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Grieve, PercyMills, Peter (Torrington)Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Tilney, John
Hall-Davis, A. G. F.Monro, HectorTurton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)More, Jaspervan Straubenzee, W. R.
Harvie Anderson, MissMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Hastings, StephenMott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesVickers, Dame Joan
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir LionelMurton, OscarWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Heseltine, MichaelNoble, Rt. Hn. MichaelWeatherill, Bernard
Hill, J. E. B.Onslow, CranleyWhitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Hogg, Rt. Hn. QuintinOsborn, John (Hallam)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Holland, PhilipOsborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Hornby, RichardPage, Graham (Crosby)Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Hutchison, Michael ClarkPardoe, JohnWood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Iremonger, T. L.Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)Worsley, Marcus
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Percival, IanTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jennings, J. C. (Burton)Pink, R. BonnerMr. Francis Pym and Mr. David Mitchell.
Johnston, Russell (Inverness)Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch

Photo of Sir Walter Clegg Sir Walter Clegg , North Fylde

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the words so restored to the Bill, in page 32, line 25, at the end to insert: (4) No levy shall be chargeable where—

  1. (a) in Cases A, B and E the amount of the consideration for the relevant disposition, in Case C the market value of the relevant interest, or in Case D the amount of the compensation, does not exceed £4,000; and
  2. (b) in Cases A, B and E the grantor, in Case C the owner of the relevant interest, or in Case D the person to whom the right to compensation accrues is not a body corporate; and
  3. (c) the relevant land or relevant interest, as the case may be, is the principal or only land or interest in land to which such person is entitled.
I can assure the Minister that I am trying to be as helpful to him as was his hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price). If the right hon. Gentleman does not accept this Amendment, he will be condemning the Land Commission to a rather nasty death, because it is only by exempting the small transactions that the Commission will be able to work. In this I am persuaded by the Lord Chancellor who in the debate in another place said: The Government have considerable sympathy with the views which have been expressed on this Amendment. Nobody really wants the Land Commission to mess about dealing with a large number of very small matters, taking up a lot of administrative work and time and not producing, perhaps, anything which, in the end, is really worthwhile. Saying that the Government did have some sympathy with this Amendment and that the only reason they were unable to accept it was the possibility of evasion or fragmentation, the noble Lord went on: If noble Lords opposite could suggest a clause which was watertight I have no doubt that we should be happy to consider it"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 5th December, 1966; Vol. 278, c. 989–90.] In his view, the Amendment as drafted was not sufficient.

I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, if this Amendment is accepted and he uses his power to make regulations for the Land Commission and then adopts a form of affidavit, somewhat on the lines of the Inland Revenue affidavit, which people would have to swear before they actually benefited by a concession, this would be adequate protection.

11.15 p.m.

Every day of the week people are swearing affidavits as to the extent of the assets they possess, which is what this Clause would call them to do. Therefore, there is nothing unusual or remarkable in this procedure. Indeed, in every conveyance under £6,000 certificates are provided which are signed by the parties to the transaction enabling them to avoid stamp duty or to pay a lower rate. This has been going on for many years and has never been abused, so perhaps that is another way in which this system could be made to work.

The same argument about fragmentation could equally be levelled at stamp duty and yet we know that the amount of evasion by this means is minimal, because people know that there are severe penalties for attempting to evade stamp duty by putting in a wrong certificate for a conveyance and so on, as, indeed, is the case with the other method of using affidavits.

The consequences of swearing incorrectly for Inland Revenue affidavits are severe and this makes the system work. What is the difference in reality between what we are asking the Government to do here—to exempt transactions under £4,000—and exempting estates under £5,000 from estate duty? The right hon. Gentleman may say that this would be equally open to abuse but, in the case I have mentioned, the revenue position is protected by affidavit.

I urge the right hon. Gentleman to give thought once more to whether he cannot accept the Amendment together with the other safeguards I have suggested. If he did so, he would make the job of the Land Commission tolerable. The servants of the Commission will have to deal with such things as wayleaves, small leases of seven years on small rentals and many household transactions of owner-occupied houses under £4,000 if the Amendment is not accepted. The Amendment would remove an immense burden of work from the shoulders of the 1,800 and eventually 2,000 men who will have to deal with the biggest avalanche of paper any Department has had to deal with in the history of government. Although in a way I regret it, we might be saving the Land Commission if we persuade the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

As has been said, we are not unsympathetic to this idea. In fact, we already have in the Bill two de minims provisions which relate to the problem raised. First, the levy will be taken only when the amount of the development value is more than one-tenth of the current use value, which is a very important provision in this context.

We have also the provision defining material development, so that we have very much in mind the point that has been raised. We look upon this proposal sympathetically. The hon. Gentleman has dealt with the point very much as he dealt with it in Standing Committee, when he made a similar proposal by way of a new Clause. The disincentive to accepting this is that we are convinced that it would provide means for widespread evasion by allowing transactions to be translated into a series of small transactions.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that there is wholesale evasion of stamp duty obligations by use of the certificate for value system, to which there is no objection? Surely that could apply in these circumstances?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I will come to this. It is how much wider one goes. There is much more involved here than is involved with stamp duty. As the hon. Gentleman said with regard to his new Clause, it was said in the Lords that this may not be absolutely watertight. I am convinced that this is an understatement. We have to recognise the position that we are dealing here with some people who are very anxious not to pay the levy and who will be very well advised upon how to avoid it. We are not satisfied, and I am certain that hon. Gentlemen opposite would not be absolutely satisfied, that this would not be open to widespread evasion by nominees and fragmentation.

This is the real reason we feel unable to accept the Amendment and I am not very impressed by the argument about administrative convenience. People talk about the imposition on the citizen but there is no imposition whatever. All that a person does is to fill in the particulars for the stamp duty and the rest of the work is done by the Land Commission. If I am being asked to advise about the administrative convenience of the Land Commission, I would say that this would not help it, because if one makes any such provision, one has to provide some machinery for inquiry to satisfy oneself that there is no evasion. This is not attractive administratively, but one is concerned about imposing upon people amounts of levy which would not be very substantial.

I am not satisfied that this provision, like the earlier proposal of the hon. Gentleman or any similar provision, would not be open to evasion. There is another difficulty, which was raised in another place. If one makes an exception such as this, with the original proposal of £5,000, and this is £4,000, as the Opposition conceded in another place, this would mean considering the question of escalation—there would be a break at the full levy and one would have to consider, if one was considering a margin of £4,000, an escalation from no levy to full levy. This would again complicate matters and make the administration much more difficult. I still rely in recommending the House to resist this Amendment upon that fact that we have not been able to see any satisfactory, secure and safe way of avoiding evasion.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Hornsey

I confess that I find the Minister's explanation for the rejection of this Amendment most unsatisfactory. He has argued along the lines of administrative inconvenience about something which will affect thousands of people. I regard this Amendment as the touchstone of the Government's sincerity about this Measure. We have been told by the Minister, and in the White Paper before him, that the intention of the Government about the levy is to catch the land specu-

lator. We have had several impassioned speeches from the benches opposite, decrying the efforts made on this side of the House to protect the small, ordinary man and woman. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. J. T. Price) criticised us for doing that, and re-emphasised that this Measure was to catch the land sharks.

Let us consider how sincere the hon. Member and his hon. Friends are about that. Here is an Amendment which would cut out the little man, which would cut out the man with his own house, the man with a piece of property worth less than £4,000. Does anyone suggest that land speculators or land sharks fall into that class? We shall see in the Lobbies what the attitude of the Labour Party is to the ordinary men and women and small property owners of this country.

Question put, That those words be there inserted in the words so restored to the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 100, Noes 156.

Division No. 257.]AYES[11.27 p.m.
Alison Michael (Barkston Ash)Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Pardoe, John
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Hall-Davis, A. G. F.Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Percival, Ian
Baker, W. H. K.Harvie Anderson, MissPink, R. Bonner
Batsford, BrianHastings, StephenPowell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonHeseltine, MichaelPrior, J. M. L.
Bessell, PeterHill, J. E. B.Pym, Francis
Biffen, JohnHogg, Rt. Hn. QuintinRamsden, Rt. Hn. James
Body, RichardHolland, PhilipRawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Boyd, Carpenter, Rt. Hn. JohnHornby, RichardRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir EdwardHutchison, Michael ClarkRussell, Sir Ronald
Brinton, Sir TattonIremonger, T. L.Sharples, Richard
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir WalterIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Jennings, J. C. (Burton)Sinclair, Sir George
Buchanan -Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)Johnston, Russell (Inverness)Smith, John
Carlisle, MarkJopling, MichaelTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Clegg, WalterKimball, MarcusThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Cooke, RobertKing, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Tilney, John
Currie, G. B. H.Kitson, TimothyTurton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Dalkeith, Earl ofKnight, Mrs. Jillvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)Lubbock, EricVaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Eden, Sir JohnMackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)Vickers, Dame Joan
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Maddan, MartinWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Maude, AngusWeatherill, Bernard
Eyre, ReginaldMaxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Parr, JohnMills, Peter (Torrington)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Fortescue, TimMore, JasperWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Giles, Rear-Adm. MorganMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Mott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesWorsley, Marcus
Goodhart, PhilipMurton, Oscar
Goodhew, VictorNoble, Rt. Hn. MichaelTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grant, AnthonyOnslow, CranleyMr. David Mitchell and Mr. Hector Monro.
Grant-Ferris, R.Osborn, John (Hallam)
Grieve, PercyPage, Graham (Crosby)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)Braddock, Mrs. E. M.
Alldritt, WalterBacon, Rt. Hn. AliceBrooks, Edwin
Allen, ScholefieldBence, CyrilBroughton, Dr. A. D. D.
Anderson, DonaldBinns, JohnBrown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)
Archer, PeterBlackburn, F.Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)
Armstrong, ErnestBooth, AlbertButler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)
Cant, R. B.Horner, JohnO'Malley, Brian
Carmichael, NeilHowarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)Orme, Stanley
Coe, DenisHowie, W.Oswald, Thomas
Coleman, DonaldHughes, Roy (Newport)Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Concannon, J. D.Hunter, AdamPavitt, Laurence
Crawshaw, RichardHynd, JohnPerry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Cullen, Mrs. AliceJackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Dalyell, TamJackson, Peter M. (High Peak)Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Price, William (Rugby)
Davies, Robert (Cambridge)Jones, Dan (Burnley)Probert, Arthur
Delargy, HughJones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Rhodes, Geoffrey
Dewar, DonaldKelley, RichardRobertson, John (Paisley)
Dickens, JamesKenyon, CliffordRogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Dobson, RayLawson, GeorgeRose, Paul
Doig, PeterLeadbitter, TedRowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Driberg, TomLedger, RonShaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Dunn, James A.Lee, John (Reading)Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Dunnett, JackLever, L. M. (Ardwick)Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Edwards, Rt. Hn, Ness (Caerphilly)Lomas, KennethSkeffington, Arthur
Edward, William (Merioneth)Lyon, Alexander W. (York)Steele, Thomas (Dumbartonshire, W.)
Ellis, JohnMabon, Dr. J. DicksonTaverne, Dick
Ennals, DavidMcBride, NeilThomson, Rt. Hn. George
Fernyhough, E,McCann, JohnThornton, Ernest
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)MacColl, JamesTinn, James
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Macdonald, A. H.Urwin, T. W.
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)McGuire, MichaelWainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Forrester, JohnMackintosh, John P.Watkins, David (Consett)
Fowler, GerryMaclennan, RobertWatkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Fraser, John (Norwood)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Wellbeloved, James
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)McNamara, J. KevinWhitaker, Ben
Gardner, TonyMacPherson, MalcolmWhitlock, William
Garrett, W. E.Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)Wilkins, W. A.
Ginsburg, DavidMapp, CharlesWilley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Gourlay, HarryMarquand, DavidWilliams Alan (Swansea, W.)
Gregory, ArnoldMendelson, J. J.Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Grey, Charles (Durham)Millan, BruceWillis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Milne, Edward (Blyth)Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Griffiths, Will (Exchange)Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Harper, JosephMorgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)Woof, Robert
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Yates, Victor
Haseldine, NormanNeal, HaroldZilliacus, K.
Hazell, BertNewens, Stan
Henig, StanleyNorwood, ChristopherTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hooley, FrankOgden, EricMr. Edward Bishop and Mr. Ioan L. Evans.