Citation Commencement and Extent

Orders of the Day — Rating and Valuation (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 29th March 1984.

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Amendment made: No. 12, in page 12, line 9, after '15', insert 'and paragraphs 9, 12 to 14, and 16 of Schedule 2'.—[The Solicitor-General for Scotland.]

10,25 pm

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scottish Office)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The purpose of the Bill is simple and, therefore, I shall not go into it in detail. We have covered many aspects of it on Report. Much has been made of the constitutional argument about the rate limitation provisions, but it is completely unfounded to say that it marks a significant constitutional change. Local authorities are not free agents, nor are they at liberty to decide what action to take regardless of Government. They are, and always have been, creatures of statute. They derive their powers from Parliament, and their actions take place within the statutory and economic framework set by a democratically elected Parliament. Since local authorities are responsible for a quarter of public spending, no Government, nor any party, can afford to ignore local authority spending when determining national economic policies — and no Government have.

The Bill helps ratepayers. Two additional new clauses were added to the Bill in Committee, through the efforts of my hon. Friends the Members for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) and for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton). They increase public access to accounts, improve accountability, and will be good for ratepayers.

The Bill seeks to help ratepayers by protecting them from high expenditure and high rates, and by enabling individual valuation anomalies to be corrected. It aims at the two pillars on which excessive rate burdens can be based — over high rate poundages and anomalous valuations. It is not, and never has been intended to be an attack on local government. There is nothing in the Bill which a responsible local authority need fear.

When I listened, as I had to, to the dramatic scare stories and doom-laden predictions about the end of local democracy from Opposition Members, I wondered whether those prophets of gloom understood the Bill. Sometimes I thought that they did. They are so bereft of policies to put before Scottish people and ratepayers,— although I have challenged them to do so—that they have had to take refuge in a display of synthetic anger against the Bill. It may be good politics in the absence of anything more constructive, but it is undeniable that by that display they have shown total indifference to the feelings of Scottish ratepayers. Scottish ratepayers will not easily forgive or forget.

The Government have fulfilled in the Bill the commitments made to the Scottish people at the general election. We have stood by ratepayers and have given them the protection that we believe should be theirs and, therefore, I recommend the Bill to the House.

Photo of Mr James Craigen Mr James Craigen , Glasgow Maryhill 10:24 pm, 29th March 1984

The Bill is the Government's cover up on rates. It masks the Government's about-turn over the long-standing promise of rates reform. In Committee Ministers were unwilling to make amendments, and they have proved equally inflexible on Report.

Under Part I the Secretary of State takes more powers than he needs, more powers than are good for him, and more powers than are good for Scottish ratepayers. He will fix the rate poundage and the rent level. In reality, it will be left to a few advisers effectively to act the gauleiters of Scottish local government and to do the job that ought properly to be done by paid local government officers and elected members.

Part II on valuation was, I believe, born out of expediency. By changing some aspects of valuation, without in any way changing the basic principles of valuation law in Scotland, the Government will be found wanting. There will be a demand for a United Kingdom review of valuation methods and practice once it begins to penetrate, as it is already doing that what football and other sports people and others see in the Bill will not materialise.

The Bill marks a further step, some would say a fatal step, towards the collision course with local government on which the Government have embarked. Even if right hon. and hon. Members are unable to defeat the Bill, I hope that they will register their disapproval of this abominable piece of legislation.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 204, Noes 138

Division No. 215][10.31 pm
Alexander, RichardBest, Keith
Ancram, MichaelBiffen, Rt Hon John
Ashby, DavidBlaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Aspinwall, JackBonsor, Sir Nicholas
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Boscawen, Hon Robert
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Bottomley, Peter
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Baldry, AnthonyBoyson, Dr Rhodes
Batiste, SpencerBraine, Sir Bernard
Bendall, VivianBrandon-Bravo, Martin
Berry, Sir AnthonyBright, Graham
Brinton, TimHolland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonHolt, Richard
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Hooson, Tom
Bruinvels, PeterHordern, Peter
Bryan, Sir PaulHowarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Buck, Sir AntonyHowell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Burt, AlistairHubbard-Miles, Peter
Carlisle, John (N Luton)Hunt, David (Wirral)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHunter, Andrew
Chapman, SydneyJessel, Toby
Chope, ChristopherJohnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Churchill, W. S.Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)Jones, Robert (W Herts)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Conway, DerekKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Coombs, SimonKnowles, Michael
Cope, JohnLamont, Norman
Corrie, JohnLang, Ian
Couchman, JamesLawler, Geoffrey
Cranborne, ViscountLee, John (Pendle)
Crouch, DavidLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Dicks, TerryLilley, Peter
Dorrell, StephenMcCurley, Mrs Anna
Dover, DenMacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardMacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Dunn, RobertMajor, John
Durant, TonyMather, Carol
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)Monro, Sir Hector
Eggar, TimMoore, John
Emery, Sir PeterMorris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Evennett, DavidMoynihan, Hon C.
Fallon, MichaelMurphy, Christopher
Favell, AnthonyNeubert, Michael
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyNewton, Tony
Fletcher, AlexanderOppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Fookes, Miss JanetParris, Matthew
Forman, NigelPercival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Pink, R. Bonner
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanPollock, Alexander
Fox, MarcusRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Franks, CecilRoberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Fraser, Peter (Angus East)Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Freeman, RogerRoe, Mrs Marion
Gale, RogerRossi, Sir Hugh
Galley, RoyRumbold, Mrs Angela
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Ryder, Richard
Glyn, Dr AlanSainsoury, Hon Timothy
Goodhart, Sir PhilipSayeed, Jonathan
Goodlad, AlastairShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Gow, IanShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Gower, Sir RaymondShelton, William (Streatham)
Grant, Sir AnthonyShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Gregory, ConalShersby, Michael
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)Sims, Roger
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Grist, IanSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Ground, PatrickSoames, Hon Nicholas
Grylls, MichaelSpeller, Tony
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Spencer, Derek
Hampson, Dr KeithSquire, Robin
Hanley, JeremyStanbrook, Ivor
Hannam, JohnStanley, John
Harvey, RobertSteen, Anthony
Haselhurst, AlanStern, Michael
Havers, Rt Hon Sir MichaelStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Hawksley, WarrenStokes, John
Hayes, J.Stradling Thomas, J.
Hayward, RobertSumberg, David
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Heddle, JohnTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Henderson, BarryTerlezki, Stefan
Hickmet, RichardThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Hicks, RobertThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Hind, KennethThurnham, Peter
Hirst, MichaelTracey, Richard
Trotter, NevilleWatson, John
Twinn, Dr IanWatts, John
van Straubenzee, Sir W.Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Vaughan, Sir GerardWells, John (Maidstone)
Viggers, PeterWheeler, John
Waddington, DavidWinterton, Mrs Ann
Wakeham, Rt Hon JohnWinterton, Nicholas
Walden, GeorgeWolfson, Mark
Walker, Bill (T'side N)Wood, Timothy
Waller, Gary
Ward, JohnTellers for the Ayes:
Wardle, C. (Bexhill)Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and Mr. Douglas Hogg.
Warren, Kenneth
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Anderson, DonaldHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterJanner, Hon Greville
Ashley, Rt Hon JackJohn, Brynmor
Ashton, JoeKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Kennedy, Charles
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Barnett, GuyKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Barron, KevinKirkwood, Archibald
Beith, A. J.Lambie, David
Bell, StuartLamond, James
Benn, TonyLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Bermingham, GeraldLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Bray, Dr JeremyLitherland, Robert
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)McCartney, Hugh
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)McCrea, Rev William
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Bruce, MalcolmMcKelvey, William
Buchan, NormanMackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)McNamara, Kevin
Campbell-Savours, DaleMcTaggart, Robert
Canavan, DennisMcWilliam, John
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)Madden, Max
Carter-Jones, LewisMarek, Dr John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Clarke, ThomasMartin, Michael
Clay, RobertMaxton, John
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)Meacher, Michael
Coleman, DonaldMeadowcroft, Michael
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.Michie, William
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Corbett, RobinMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Corbyn, JeremyMitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Craigen, J. M.Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Crowther, StanNellist, David
Deakins, EricO'Brien, William
Dewar, DonaldO'Neill, Martin
Dobson, FrankPavitt, Laurie
Dubs, AlfredPenhaligon, David
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.Pike, Peter
Eadie, AlexPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Eastham, KenPrescott, John
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Fatchett, DerekRichardson, Ms Jo
Faulds, AndrewRobertson, George
Flannery, MartinRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelRobinson, P. (Belfast E)
Foster, DerekRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
Foulkes, GeorgeRowlands, Ted
Fraser, J. (Norwood)Sedgemore, Brian
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldSheldon, Rt Hon R.
George, BruceShore, Rt Hon Peter
Godman, Dr NormanShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Gould, BryanSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Hamilton, James (M'well N)Skinner, Dennis
Harman, Ms HarrietSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & Fbury)
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Heffer, Eric S.Snape, Peter
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Soley, Clive
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)Spearing, Nigel
Howells, GeraintSteel, Rt Hon David
Hoyle, DouglasStewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Strang, Gavin
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)Winnick, David
Tinn, JamesYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Torney, Tom
Wallace, JamesTellers for the Noes:
White, JamesMr. Frank Haynes and Mr. John Home Robertson.
Williams, Rt Hon A.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.