Rural Communities (Recession)

Part of Opposition Day — [13th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 15th June 2009.

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Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Opposition Whip (Commons) 6:45 pm, 15th June 2009

I am sorry, but I will not take an intervention, as I am conscious that another Member wishes to speak, and he has been present for the entire debate.

That is just another small example of the pernicious consequences of Government direction. They believe that businesses are capable of absorbing that considerable added burden, but there is no benefit to the business in that. Consequently, the local economy can suffer.

My final example, which is very much a live issue in my constituency at present, is the scrapping of the empty property rates relief. Again, this affects people who have been encouraged to diversify their activities, such as farmers who have developed workshops out of redundant barns, or, especially in my area, people who have developed their garage premises into light industrial premises but find that there are not any light industrial users. There are now increasing numbers of empty premises. It is almost impossible to secure the granting of a change of use from the planning authorities despite the current housing crisis. As a result of the reduction in rate relief, owners must suffer significant tax on empty properties, and it would not surprise me if a number of them were to decide to make their premises uninhabitable in order to avoid the tax. That is, I think, an unintended consequence; I am sure the Government do not want properties that could be put to economic use to be pulled down, but that will, I fear, be the direct result of a Government measure.

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