( Mr. Sclater-Booth, Mr. Clare Head.)
Bill 98 Committee
[ Progress 19th June.]
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clause 3 (Abolition of certain exemptions from rating).
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 20, after the word "to," to insert the word "all."—( Sir George Jenkinson.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'all' be there inserted."
, who had another Amendment on the Paper, consequent to, and depending upon, the Question before the Committee, asked the Chairman if at that stage he was at liberty to propose it?
said, that when a similar question had been raised at the last sitting, he had entertained some doubt whether the hon. Baronet could put such an Amendment without an express notification of the consent of the Crown. In the last century it had been the practice to signify the consent of the Crown to such an Amendment when reported to the House. And it was now not unusual to postpone such a notification—without which a Bill thus amended could not pass—until even a later stage. He did not, therefore, think—although the point was not altogether clear—that he should be warranted in stopping the discussion of such an Amendment in the Committee.
said, the subsequent Amendment referred to, was in page 1, line 20, after "land," to insert "including Crown property." He was glad to hear the ruling just laid down. The Bill purported to amend the Act of Elizabeth and extend its provisions to hereditaments other than those mentioned in that Act. He could not, however, understand why it should not extend to property belonging to the Crown, although it was said the assent of the Crown would be required. The Treasury Minute which had been issued, it was said, would answer the purpose he had in view; but the assent of the Crown must have been obtained before that Minute was issued, and by embodying the principle of the Treasury Minute in the Bill, they would make it imperative on all future Governments to act upon it. Otherwise, if a Treasury Minute only were acted upon, there would be nothing to prevent any future Government from issuing another Treasury Minute in an opposite direction.
said, there was a strong feeling in Lancashire in favour of taxing all property indifferently for local expenses, and he believed the time had now arrived when Crown property should no longer be exempt. He should therefore support the Amendment.
said, his objection to the Amendment was, that it touched a part of a great question without touching the whole. It must be remembered that, when he introduced the Bill, he said it was necessary for him to take the Bill as it passed through the late Parliament, with the omission of the clause relating to Government property, which he had not had time to consider, and on that account he proposed an alternative arrangement which seemed to be acceptable to the House at that time. The woodlands in the occupation of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests would pay the rate, and, under those circumstances, it would be better for the hon. Baronet to wait and see whether the arrangements worked satisfactorily. Wisely or unwisely, the Government had deliberately excluded from the Bill all mention of Crown property; they had confined it to three classes of property—mines, woods, and game; and he therefore objected to introducing into the Bill in this way something with which it had nothing to do. A sufficient protest had been already made against the exclusion of Crown lands, which would include a vast amount of property beyond the scope of this Bill, and he intreated the hon. Member to be satisfied with that protest, and to consider the limited proposal which the Government thought it their duty to make.
said, that when the Bill was last in Committee there was a long discussion on this subject, and great dissatisfaction was expressed, principally on the Ministerial side of the House, with the proposal, or rather the want of proposal, on the part of the Government. He suggested that clauses of last year's Bill, possibly with some modifications, should be introduced; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained at length his scheme for relieving places that contained Government property by moans of a Vote in the Estimates. The scheme seemed to commend itself to the judgment of the House; but, personally, he still held a strong opinion, that the rating of Government property in an irregular way would be only a temporary expedient, and he would far rather the right hon. Gentleman had left the matter alone for a year or longer, until a well-digested plan could be brought up. It was erroneous in principle that any Government should ask for a certain sum of money to be placed in their hands to be distributed, upon certain rough rules it was true, but still on their responsibility; but, in the absence of any alternative scheme, the Committee could only acquiesce for the present in the proposal of the Government. He believed the hon. Baronet had the sympathy of the House with his Amendment; but at that late period of the Session he would advise him to postpone it.
thought Crown property ought to be put on the same footing as other property. He, however, saw the difficulty of the position in which the Government was placed. If the rating of Crown property was to be introduced into the Bill, it could not be done by way of Amendment. The Government appealed with great force to the Committee to allow the matter to stand on its present footing for a year, when, as he understood, they would again deal with it; and he therefore hoped the hon. Baronet would not take up a position of antagonism to the Government by pressing his Amendment at that time.
must express his regret that the Government did not see their way to bring in a Bill to settle the question this year. Matters of this kind were not to be disposed of by Treasury Minutes, which really did not settle anything, for what had been established by one Treasury Minute might be upset by another. He considered that a strong Government ought not to have recourse to the device of postponing a difficult question; and therefore he hoped the Amendment would only be withdrawn upon the distinct understanding that the Government would bring in a Bill next year to rate Crown property, in order that the matter might be discussed and determined as a whole, and not left to be dealt with by Treasury Minutes.
said, that the real question was, whether the Government should advise Her Majesty to give her Assent to this proposal with reference to Crown property? and with regard to that, he thought it would be an unsatisfactory course for the House to proceed with the discussion of the subject, with the prospect that upon the third reading the Government might step in and stop the progress of the Bill, if the Amendment should be adopted, by refusing to advise Her Majesty to sanction the provisions in question. The policy which the Government had announced was, that they should, by Act of Parliament, deal with exemptions of certain classes of private property, but not to introduce into the measure any provision for doing away with the exemption of Crown property. They did not say that was a subject which ought not to be dealt with. On the contrary, they were of opinion that there was a fair and reasonable claim for bringing such property under contribution. It was already clone to a certain extent, and they thought it ought to be done to a greater extent. But they felt that was a difficult question involving a large number of important considerations, and they were not prepared to deal with it in an Act of Parliament of the present year. The Government had before them the experience of the Bill of last year, which undoubtedly passed this House, but which, on reflection, they were not prepared to accept, and they thought it advisable that the matter should stand over for further consideration; at the same time, not wishing to delay granting to the country and the localities chiefly interested that relief to which they had for some time been looking. They did propose to deal with the question by means of a confessedly temporary expedient. When he said "temporary expedient," he would remind the Committee that it was not anything like the introduction of a new principle,—it was the extension of a principle recognized by the House for many years. Grants had been taken already to the amount of £63,000 a-year in aid of Government property, to be dispensed according to such regulations as Government might think fit to adopt; and what was now proposed was to increase the amount to something like fourfold what it was now, but to continue the distribution on principles somewhat analogous to those which had hitherto been acted on, with this addition, that a list of the parishes so aided should be laid before the House, their rateable value, the amount of Government property in them, and so on. Though the Government did not think that a permanent or satisfactory way of dealing with the question, they held that it would meet the exigencies of the case at present, and it would render it impossible for the Government to do what it had been kindly suggested they would do during the vacation—namely, job the money. If one locality found that an unfair proportion was given to its neighbour, it was quite certain the Government would hear of it in the House and elsewhere; and they could not maintain their position, unless they administered the grant fairly. In point of fact, all grants made by the House were made on the assumption that Government would distribute them fairly; and, indeed, much larger grants than these were already distributed by the Government—as, for instance, the grant in aid of Education and others. The scheme of the Government was this—to deal with the exemptions of mines, woods, and game by Act of Parliament, but with respect to the Government property, not to deal with it this year by Act of Parliament, and not to pledge themselves whether they would or would not in a future year. The position in which the Government stood with regard to the Amendment was this—They would have to discuss the principle of proceeding by Vote in the matter, and if his hon. Friend should persevere, and the Committee should support him, the Government would feel that though the Amendment was small, the Committee had in fact declined to sanction the policy which the Government had adopted after due deliberation. Of course, the Government could not complain; at the same time, they would be under the necessity of reporting Progress, in order that time might be taken to consider whether they would proceed with the Bill under such altered circumstances, and also whether they should proceed with their policy generally.
said, after what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, it was evident the Committee should either reject the Amendment, or they would lose the Bill. He did not want to lose the Bill, as it would bring under taxation a good deal of property which was now exempt, and he would therefore urge his hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment.
said, it would be more convenient for the House and the Government to have the principle of rating Crown property embodied in an Act of Parliament; but he agreed with those who recommended the hon. Baronet to withdraw his Amendment, because the proposal of the Government might fairly be accepted as a tentative measure.
said, though it was highly objectionable to bring in Bills which dealt only with the fringe of the subject, still, in their present position, the suggestion that the Amendment should not be accepted was the only course open to the Committee, if they desired to pass the Bill. For his own part, he would much rather that the Bill were postponed, and that the question, which had been debated for many weeks last Session, should not be dealt with now, than that a matter of such great magnitude and importance as the fair rating of property should be treated as it had been treated by the late and as it was being treated by the present Government, who were accepting and fathering the child they opposed on every occasion last Session.
said, he felt bound to join in the appeal to the hon. Baronet not to press his Amendment, which addressed itself only to a part of the subject—namely, Crown property under the control of the Commissioners of "Woods and Forests and did not deal with property under the Admiralty, the War Office, and the Civil Departments of the State. Since that question was last dis- cussed, it had advanced a stage. When the subject was last discussed there were two proposals before the House—one with respect to the rating of Government property by law, and the other for continuing, but enlarging, the scope of the existing system of voluntary contributions from the Imperial Revenue. There were certain advantages on both sides, and the position which he took up with regard to the two proposals was, that he (Mr. Stansfeld) should be willing to defer to the opinion of the House in Committee. On the whole, the balance of argument was rather on the side of assessment as against voluntary contributions, and so the matter stood when the debate was adjourned. He was, however, desirous that the Bill should pass, and if the present proposal with regard to Government property was not satisfactory, no doubt it would be amended in some future Session. Moreover, the Government, since the debate was last adjourned, had explained that the arrangement with respect to those voluntary contributions was intended to be merely temporary, although, at the same time, they could not now pledge the Crown, in regard to the compulsory rating of Government property, to any action in a future Session. Both the Government and the House would be free, however, to reconsider the subject in another year, and, considering the advanced period of the Session, together with the complexity of the question, the appeal now made to the Committee by the Government was one to which they would do well to accede, and not to assume the responsibility of rejecting the Bill, even though it omitted the clauses contained in the measure of their Predecessors.
said, he was willing, after the general expression of opinion which had been elicited, to withdraw his Amendment, but must enter his protest against the line of legislation which had been adopted in reference to this subject by the Government, as being too much in accordance with that of their Predecessors. The whole course of legislation in the matter from the time of Queen Elizabeth had been in the direction of extending the liabilities of real property. Unfortunately, there were not now so many hon. Members behind him to back him up on this question as there were last year. They were otherwise disposed of, and he had been led to attach more importance than he had at first done to the warning of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, to be careful how this question was stirred lest the result should be to increase the charges on real property.
said, he did not admit that the effect of the Bill would be to impose fresh burdens on real property, and did not see how the Government could have done otherwise than they had done in the matter. The Bill would simply do what the occupiers of land had long asked the Government to do—namely, make certain land contribute to the poor rates which had hitherto been exempted. He trusted that the Government would adhere to their proposal.
said, he did not object to the contributions in themselves, provided that everybody contributed his fair share, which would not be the case under the present Bill. Without requiring the Government to give any impossible pledge, he trusted that they would give some assurance that they would reconsider the question before another Session.
, with reference to the remarks of the hon. Baronet the Member for North Wilts, denied that either the rating Bill of last year, or the one under discussion, imposed fresh burdens on real property. They only dealt with certain property hitherto exempt from rating. The contributions in respect of Government property, as now proposed, would be a considerable casement in the localities where they applied. Neither of the Bills increased the charges on land, but only redistributed them more fairly.
said, that if no more money was to be collected under the Bill in the shape of contributions from land, he could not see what was the use of the Bill at all. If the effect of the Bill had been to rate mines and Government property only, he should have said nothing against it; but the gist of it was to throw the burden on the shoulders of those owners who lived on their estates.
pointed out that in the case of a parish which had to contribute, say, £100 a-year in rates, and one-half of which was agricultural, whilst the other half consisted of mines, the agricultural half at present had to contribute the whole, whereas under the Bill it would contribute equally with the mines.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made a magnificent offer of a large sum of money; but he (Mr. Henley) desired to have some clearer light than had yet been thrown upon the subject of the distribution of these charges, as in some districts the relief to be got from the contributions from Government property must be very small. Those where the dockyards were situated would get the lion's share. There could be no objection to rating property hitherto exempt, provided it were done on a fair and uniform principle. The Bill, however, did nothing of the kind. It was not a Bill assessing property not assessed before, but a Bill assessing some kinds unfairly, and leaving others of the same value unassessed. All should be taken fairly; but the Bill did anything but that.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
, in moving as an Amendment, to leave out sub-sections 1 and 2, said, he did so with the view of eliciting from the Government a more satisfactory explanation with respect to the rating of plantations and game, on which it appeared to him that the measure would press unfairly.
said, that his hon. Friend's Amendment had the advantage of being straightforward, the object which the hon. Member had in view being to strike out from the Bill all mention of plantations and game. It was rather late then to raise such an objection, which wont to the principle of the Bill. It should have been raised on the second reading. It was not intended to enable the assessment committee to go on a man's estate and ascertain the annual value of the timber he had sold, nor was it intended that an occupier should be rated for game that was practically of no value at all. He believed the Amendments he intended to propose would meet the objections of his hon. Friend, and therefore he hoped he would not put the Committee to the trouble of dividing.
trusted that if the right hon. Gentleman meant that saleable underwood should not be increased in rateable value on account of timber growing thereon, he would make the Bill clear upon that point.
said, his right hon. Friend was mistaken in supposing that saleable underwood would be increased in rateable value by reason of timber growing thereon.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
then proposed, in line 21, the omission of the words, "or for both such purposes," at the end of sub-section 1, the effect of which Amendment would be to exempt from rating any land used for a plantation or a wood and for the growth of saleable underwood.
complained that no Notice had been given of the Amendment and that it ought not to be adopted. He contended that when land was used for the two purposes before mentioned it should be rated in respect of both of such uses.
concurred in the objection of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld).
said, there were cases in which a wood was almost valueless because the underwood had been taken away, and the trees were not full grown.
said, it seemed to be forgotten that timber was paid for by succession duty. It had been stated on high authority, in evidence given before the Committee of this House, which he could not quote as it had not yet been laid on the Table, that it was highly impolitic to rate timber at all. The difficulty of rating it seemed to be a great one, which no one could solve. If timber was not to be rated by the Bill, there was no use discussing the way in which it was to be rated.
said, he believed it would be good policy to do nothing which would stimulate the re-mature destruction of growing timber. It was a question of degree, and it was impossible for the House to lay down the exact point at which saleable underwood ceased to be such, but the assessment committees would easily do it. What the parishioners desired, was to have the land rated. The great mass of saleable underwoods were thoroughly understood to be worth so much per acre per annum, and they were assessed accordingly without taking into account the timber.
said, that assessment committees had found no difficulty in dealing with saleable underwoods. Old trees and ornamental timber ought not to be rated, because the value of them could be realized only twice in
said, he did not understand that the Government had come to the conclusion not to rate land, for according to sub-section (a) of Clause 4 land used only for a plantation or a wood was to be valued as if the land were let and occupied in its natural and unimproved state; but the proposal that in case of joint occupation for wood and underwood, the land should cease to be assessed, except in respect of underwood, would not hold water. There were great plantations of well-grown timber sufficiently sparse to admit of the growth of copse. The best solution of the difficulty was that a piece of land occupied solely by timber should be rated in respect of its improved value, that saleable underwood should be rated as such, and that land conjointly occupied should be assessed in respect of both elements of its value by the assessment committee. The result of the discussion of last year was that it was best to leave the matter to the assessment committees, who were beginning to collate their growing experience, and, if this were clone, no practical difficulty would occur.
said, he understood it to be the intention of the Government that in the case of land growing brushwood below the timber, it was to be assessed as land used solely for the growth of underwood. There would then be a manifest injustice done in the same Union to those proprietors who chose to devote their land solely to the sale of underwood. He preferred the Bill as originally drawn, for it appeared to him that the Amendment would leave a large quantity of land in England devoted partly to timber and partly to underwood, either wholly exempted or very lightly taxed. He hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn.
said, it seemed to him that they were agreed upon two important points—namely, that if land was used for growing timber, it was to be rated as land in its natural condition; and if the land was used for growing saleable underwood, in was to be so rated. He thought it would be better if the matter were left to the assessment committee, as there would be no clear principle to go upon where timber and underwood were grown together.
thought that if land were used for timber and also grow underwood, the assessment committee should have the opportunity of determining that the taxation should follow the rate, either as to saleable underwood or of land in its natural state.
said, his belief was, that if the words had not been inserted in the Bill, no one would have ever missed them, or suggested their insertion. If the Amendment were agreed to, it could be made clear when they came to Clause 4 that all lands used for the growth of timber and underwood were to be rated.
Amendment agreed to; words struck out accordingly.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 1, line 21, to insert after "purposes" the words "and not subject to any rights of common."
said, he could not understand the necessity for that Amendment. If land with underwood upon it was increased in value on account of the timber on it, why the necessity of the exemption? Common land could not be assessed at all, as it was in nobody's occupation; and if there was not to be a separate assessment on account of the timber upon it, what was the necessity for exempting it?
said, that in his part of the country there were large tracts of land belonging to different copyholders. The underwood on them was the property of the copyholder and was rated to the poor, but the timber was not rated. He was not anxious to see this timber rated, though it was the property of the lord of the manor; but when his right hon. Friend touched commons, he thought he should go a little further, and say whether timber on copyhold estates should not be subject to rates so far as the land on which it stood was concerned.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
, who had an Amendment on the Paper, in page 1, line 23, to leave out sub-section 2, said, it always appeared to Mm that they could not get at the right of sporting itself, but they could get at the value of crops; and in the Amendment he had introduced his object was that the gross estimated value of land should include the value of right of sporting. Land was usually let subject to whatever rights were exercised over it; the land was assessed on that basis, and in that way the exact value or rights of sporting might be got at. Otherwise it was perfectly possible that great injustice might be done, not only in the assessment, but through the land being unlet or let only for the purposes of mere pleasure. The land might be in pasture instead of corn. It might be held on account of a particular stock of game being kept on it, but rather than give an assessment committee the right to assess this, his object was to assess the estimated value of land, including the right of sporting. As, however, he saw on the Paper other words that would meet his object, he would, with the permission of Committee, withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 1, sub-section 2, line 23, after "when," to insert "separately rented and." Hard things had been said as to the objection of hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House to game being rated; but if the land was rated at the full agricultural value, no matter what the produce was, whether corn, game, or whatever it was, there could be no doubt that in such a valuation, the game was rated as well. If, then, the land was rated at the full value, by what right or justice could they rate a man for sporting? It was a piece of gross injustice. What would be the effect? It would subject a man who lived in a grass country, where the right of shooting was nil, to the action of an assessment committee. Take a man who lived in a dairy country, with 5,000 acres of grass land, where the value of the right of sporting was nil. Suppose the assessment committee put 1,9, an acre on his land—that would be £250 a-year at which he would be rated. That would be for a man to have the right to walk over his own grass land and carry a gun. It was a monstrous thing. Why not rate a man for hunting? Why rate him for right of walking over his own land? It was not reasonable or just to rate a man for the right of walking over his own land. If a man let his shooting, rate him to the mast-head; but why rate a gentleman whoso game was absolutely valueless, except for his own enjoyment? If a man let a moor in Yorkshire or in Scotland, let them rate it to any extent they pleased, but not rate his own enjoyment. The effect of his Amendment would be to allow a man to walk over his own estate without being rated. If the shooting was let to a third party other than the owner or the occupier, let them rate him, but not rate people who exercised no other right than that of their own enjoyment. It should be remembered that all those who did shoot paid a certain amount of rating in their game certificates. Why they should pay any other rate for walking over their own land was a matter of surprise, and he could not understand it. The rating of land on the agricultural value, except where the sporting was separately rented, would cover everything that was just and reasonable.
said, that the noble Lord (Lord Henry Scott) and the hon. Baronet (Sir George Jenkinson) must have had some communication with the Government on the clause. Neither he nor any hon. Gentleman near him had hoard the Government express an opinion on the subject.
said, it was not with regard to the clause, but he had a verbal Amendment on Clause 6 which would show what the intentions of Government were.
Will those Amendments prevent a man being rated for his own shooting?
They do not go so far as that.
thought that the Committee could not possibly assent to the Amendment. He was not one of those who let shooting, and he did not see any harm in rating game, and he had no right on that account to be exempt from any fair rate which an assessment committee might assess. It was not for carrying a gun over his land that a man was rated, but it was a rate levied for the use and enjoyment which the land carried with it, and for the increased value which the land would in cones- quence fetch in the market. Of course, if a man owned grass land the game would be rated at what it was worth, and if it were worth nothing, it would be rated at nothing. But there was generally a certain value of the shooting which the land carried with it, and whatever might be the actual value of the manor over which the landlord chose to shoot, he had no right to complain if he were rated accordingly. If the principle contended for by the hon. Baronet (Sir George Jenkinson) were good, he did not see why a landlord should not be exempt from other rates if he farmed his own land. Whether a man preserved highly, or not at all, he would only be assessed at the fair market rate, and in that there would be no hardship.
said, he was sorry to differ from the remarks of the hon. Member for Berkshire, but he thought it an excessive hardship that an owner should be assessed on what anyone would give for the sporting. That would be an enormous injustice, for he knew numerous instances in which some absurd and fancy price would be given for the right to shoot near London. It would be absurd to fix the rate on that rent. He knew a case, not many miles from Windsor, where an eight-acre plot was let to a doctor, who paid for the right of shooting £100 a-year. The property had lately been sold to a neighbouring proprietor; but if that was to be taken as a test of its value, it would be very hard. As fishing was included, he would ask the Government for some details on that part of the question. He had served on assessment committees, and he found they were generally in the dark, and that, like juries appealing to a Judge, they always required to be told what to do. If they could assess the value of the fishing in the Serpentine, it would guide him in his neighbourhood, where the fishing was of the same kind and of about the same value. He knew that there were certain doctors who would pay a fabulous price for the chance of catching a gudgeon. He objected to the principle of the rate being calculated on whatever the thing would fetch in the market. He did not think that was a fair test.
said, if the Amendment of the hon. Baronet was carried there would be very little of the right of sporting to be assessed, for the pur- pose of being rated, in his part of the country, or in the country generally. The hon. Baronet would have it that where the owner exercised his right of sporting, there should be no rating at all. [Sir GEORGE JENKINSON: If the land is rated at its full value.] That was not so. Excessive game depreciated the value of the land, and the consequence was, that in some cases the land was not rated at more than three-fourths of its agricultural value. There were some tracts of land where the shooting was of considerable value, where the agricultural value was not lower in consequence. The other day he heard of an instance where the agricultural value of land was £900, and the shooting let to the tenant for £100. If the landlord kept the right of shooting in his own hand that £100 a-year would escape assessment, whereas under the Bill the farm would be rated at £1,000.
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken looked no farther than Norfolk and Suffolk, and entirely forgot the rest of this large country. Taking the value of shooting throughout the whole of England, from one end to the other, they would find, with few exceptions of over-preservation of game, that shooting was of no great value to anyone. That was not the right way to assess shooting. Was the land to be rated in more than one way? If they were to put in shooting, they might put in other rights beside. Why did they not rate it upon what it was really worth, rate it upon that and nothing more? If the shooting was let, they knew what the value was, and it might be rated. If an owner depreciated the land by having an excessive amount of game upon it, then it ought to be rated in proportion to what it would have produced. But to lay down an arbitrary law that people might rate shooting at what it was worth, would be impracticable; because, as had been said, shooting let in the neighbourhood of London at fabulous prices. Such shooting might be worth £200 a-year on land that without it would be worth only £100. Owners were now supposed to be rated on all the land they held in their own hands, woods and everything else; and now it was proposed to rate them for the shooting over the farms which they let by receiving the right of shooting. There were hundreds and thousands of acres absolutely worth nothing but to walk across, and it would be very hard, he thought, to put a rate upon that. No doubt they might value those moorlands which were worth more for shooting than any other purpose. A tenant in this country was wide enough awake to see that he did not pay more than the real value of land to him. Was it wise, then, to put on an additional rate, and to give an excuse for letting shooting? There was nothing more mischievous than letting land for sporting purposes. It created more ill-will than anything else. It was not between landlord and tenant, but between the stranger and the tenant, that ill-blood arose. He therefore said that rating was a mischievous thing to do. If they wanted to keep a landlord in his county, it was well that he should be able harmlessly to amuse himself. All right-thinking landlords not only enjoyed the sport, but gave the tenant the right also. Where the landlord gave the tenant the right to catch rabbits and the right to course, was the land to be rated as if no rights were given at all? Bate the land at the full value of what it was worth, but not on an exceptional state of things.
said, if there was one thing which appeared to him in this case in a stranger light than another, it was that there was no foundation for the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member, and that if there was any class of men who wanted the clause, it was the proprietors of land and the friends of sporting. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had said that it was not advisable that they should encourage the letting of the right of sporting. Well, but in that very clause there was a clear distinction drawn. The assessment would be upon the value of sporting, which he had no doubt would be judged in reference to the average custom and right of the neighbourhood. ["No, no!"] Yes, by an assessment committee, consisting of occupying farmers in the neighbourhood. He would lay down this broad proposition, that it was in the interest of those who desired to enjoy these rights—and who believed upon the whole it was for the benefit of the country that those rights should continue to be enjoyed—it was in their interest that the rights of sporting should come under assessment. Would not the hon. and gallant Gentleman agree with him that it was a wise thing in the Bill to assess the right of sporting? He would address himself to the 6th clause, and would show that it was not open to any of the objections the hon. and gallant Member had raised, and he would meet the objections he had raised precisely in the spirit he wished them to be met. If the right of sporting were in the occupier of land, the land would not be separately rated, but the assessment committee would judge of the value of the land with the sporting. The hon. and gallant Gentleman could have no objection to that, because it was in accord with his own view. If the right of sporting were let, then the hon. and gallant Gentleman had no objection that such right should be rated. He had no objection to the doctor going down to the neighbourhood of Windsor and paying £100 a-year for the shooting, and being rated on it. The remaining clause was, where the owner of the soil preserved the right of shooting. Well, the clause was even tender of the rights of the owner; it said that if the owner rented the right, it should not be separately valued, but the gross value should be estimated as if the occupier would be entitled to exercise the right; therefore the assessment committee, consisting for the greater part of occupying farmers, would assess occupying farmers, on the hypothesis that they had the right of sporting and would not unduly assess the right of sporting. When that was done if the assessment was inclusive of the right of shooting he would have the right to deduct the excess from his landlord. He maintained, therefore, that the clause as drawn and presented to the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sclater-Booth), must be a clause in support of the views of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Barttelot), when the right of sporting was not severed it was not to be separately rated, but where it was severed from the occupation of land it was to be separately rated. When the landlord enjoyed the right it was to be assessed on the tenant, the tenant having a right for excess as against the landlord, and therefore it was impossible to conceive anything more equitable.
said, he would remind the Committee that they had a little wandered from the subject of the Amendment, and were really discussing the detailed plan contained in Clause 6.
The question before them now was, whether the House would say that a landlord reserving the right to shoot over the tenant in occupation should in no case be rated for the value of the enjoyment. The difficulty of the case was this—in one parish there might be two tenant-farmers having farms of equal value, but varying as to the right of shooting. As a matter of fact, the assessment committee would rate one higher, because he had the right of shooting, than they would rate the other. This was an injustice against which the assessment committee would have to contend. If the landlord reserved that which in the hands of a tenant would be subject to rates, he ought to pay something for it. If the Committee would pass by the Amendment, he thought, when they came to Clause 6, he should show that if there was no real practical value, there would be nothing assessed by the committee and nothing deducted from the landlord, and therefore nothing in dispute between landlord and tenant. Moreover, by Clause 9, power of appeal was given to the landlord to quarter sessions, where of course he would be heard. Under those circumstances, it might be fairly expected that these rights of shooting would be satisfactorily adjusted.
considered game a luxury that should be paid for. He should not have the least objection to pay for his game, and it would be very satisfactory to the people of his parish to know that he had paid. No doubt, there was a deal of pleasure in the exercise, pleasure in the shooting, and the pleasure of giving game a way. There should be a special reservation to prevent the tenant being injured by the person who took the game. They ought also to be careful about rabbits. There they were, 650 men trying to turn rabbits out of the country; and before the rabbits had turned a man out of Parliament, they should pay this little rate, whatever it was, for a great pleasure and great luxury.
said, it appeared to him that many regarded that as an additional tax on the land. That was a fallacy, for it was merely an additional subject of rating. If the game let for £100 a-year, the rating on that was no additional burden on the land. As respected the particular Amendment before the Committee, he quite agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Mid Cheshire, and was only too glad that landlords should be subject to rates for shooting.
said, that nobody had said anything against anyone who occupied the land beneficially being rated. All he said was that, supposing a tenant was rated at the full agricultural value, he saw no right to rate the land twice over, no matter how it was occupied. He did not know what amount of gratification the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. S. Hardy) derived from game, or with what burden he was prepared to saddle himself; but it was a very hard thing that a man should be rated on a right which in some cases was absolutely valueless. If a man had land rated at the full value, they had no right to rate him over again for anything. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld) maintained that Clause 6 was almost entirely in favour of what he had been advocating, and that the rights of sporting were most tenderly dealt with. It was all the more important, then, to pass the Amendment, in order that the Bill might go on all fours. His Amendment was, that the rating should be extended to shooting and fishing when separated from the letting of land. If the landlord reserved the right of walking over his own land and the land of the tenants, and carrying a gun with him, was he to be rated for that? He was told Clause 6 would undo that. Therefore, the two clauses ought to be taken together.
said, the Bill would have one effect, and that was to increase the assessable value of rural land, as contra-distinguished from town land. That was the great advantage farmers would get. This was certain—that whether they paid a halfpenny, a penny, twopence, or sixpence an acre, the aggregate would come to something, and would be an increase of value of the rural districts as against the urban districts. The hon. Member for South Norfolk would appreciate that extremely. The next weighty question was, who would pay it? It was very trifling. The whole concern was trifling; but when people came to find that there was a little deduction, what would be the natural consequence? There would be a general revision of letting. Whether that would be an advantage to the farmers he did not know; but he had considerable doubt about it himself, because of the inconsistency of the thing. He did not think it would be a great benefit to the farmers in England. He was astonished that the hon. Member for South Norfolk thought it would. Those who were pressing on these little matters—for they were really very little and trifling—would, it seemed to him, produce an effect quite contrary to the expectation they entertained. He believed that considerable injustice would be done. They would put a fanciful value on what did not exist. No doubt the hon. Gentleman would say it was the value of the game, and the sport after these birds; but he felt quite sure it would not be for the benefit of those parties who were most anxious to bring it forward. It would lead to much litigation, and to many six-and-eightpences and thirteen-and-fourpences going to the lawyers.
, speaking for the Midland counties, said, the experience of the last 20 years had not been favourable to any revision of rents by the landlord. It was too difficult to get the land let on moderate and reasonable terms to make any such revision as the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire had spoken of. Was the burden likely to be so great as had been imagined? Suppose 2,000 acres of land were let at half-a-crown an acre for the right of shooting. ["Oh, oh!"] He could tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that he not only paid that rate himself, but could got that for it. At the same time he was putting an extreme case. Take a moderate estate of 2,500 acres, at half-a-crown per acre, it was only £312 that the owner would be rated upon, amounting to £15 on the average, and to those who knew what the expense of shooting was, it must be evident that the extra amount caused by such rating would be very little, certainly not such as to make it worth the while of Gentlemen interested to continue the discussion.
said, the hon. Gentleman might be willing to pay half-a-crown an acre for his shooting, but to him (Mr. Halsey), as a landlord, his estate might not be worth anything like that money. But because he might get half-a-crown an acre from some one else, if he were to let the shooting, it would be very unjust that he should be rated whether he let or not. This Bill, if passed as it stood, would give rise to endless confusion.
said, he would really put it to hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House whether it was worth while to persist in this opposition, to what was, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire had just told them, a very trifling matter. Everybody know that if there was one subject more than another which led to heart-burnings and ill-feeling in the country, between landlords, tenants, and labourers, it was the subject of shooting and game. He quite agreed with what the hon. and gallant Member for Mid-Cheshire had said, that although there was the pleasure and amusement of shooting game, there was also the still greater pleasure of giving it away; and if he might offer a suggestion upon that, it would be that all landed proprietors should follow the example of the hon. and gallant Member, and indulge more freely in the latter luxury. If they would be content to preserve a little less, and would give away a little more, he could promise them that they would hear very little about the game laws. As to the question of rating, if the owner of land were also the occupier, he would be rateable not only for the land, but for the game also; and that whether he let the right of shooting to another or retained it himself; and he (Mr. Bulwer) could not see any reason or justice why, if the owner let the land but retained the right of shooting, he should not continue to pay rates for what he so retained. As he read the Bill, it was proposed to rate the tenant of the land for the game in the first instance, and to give him the power to deduct from his rent the value of the right of shooting when severed from his occupation—that was, if the assessment committee put any value upon it. He ventured to think it was not politic for hon. Gentlemen to object to this. A tenant who now occupied a farm and paid heavily in rates, might often see his landlord carry away from it cartloads of game, send it to market as valuable property, and get the money for it; and he (Mr. Bulwer) could not help saying that it was not judicious for the landlord in such a case to object to contribute to the rates. He appealed to the hon. Baronet the Member for North Wilts as to whether it was wise to press the Amendment on the House.
hoped his hon. Friend would not divide, and for this reason—he did not think anybody objected to being assessed for game; but in his (Lord Henry Scott's) view, it would be best included in the gross estimated value of land. But as that was not exactly the view of the hon. Gentleman, they would have an opportunity of testing it on Clause 6, wherein an Amendment of his own stood on that point. He should be sorry to be a member of an assessment committee if the game were not included in the gross estimated value of land.
said, he failed to see the justice of the Amendment before the Committee. If a man retained his own shooting, why ought he not to be rated? Everyone who had fishing or shooting ought to be rated on what it might be reasonably supposed to be let for. If the landlord went over his own estate with his gun in his hand, although there was no game liable to assessment, he failed to see the force of objection, because if there was no game it would not let for anything, and therefore would not be rateable. There should be no property whatever, whether shooting or fishing or any other real property, that should refuse to pay rates, but he did not think the Bill was at present in the best shape for that purpose.
said, the Amendment was too narrow. He wished to draw attention to the arrangements often made in his county between landlord and tenant, whereby the former went two or three times a-year to shoot partridges, and the rest of the year the tenant had the option of going over the land. It was not fair to assess the tenant in that case, and it was not fair to assess the landlord. That was one of the difficulties with which they had to deal. The general principle of the Bill was the right one. He did not think, as a general rule, game was at all considered in the assessment of a farm when held by tenants having at the same time the right of shooting. That was not the custom of the country. If it were, the case would be quite conclusive. If tenants were assessed whenever they had the right of shooting, and, in other cases, the landlords, whenever they had the right of shooting, he quite granted there could be no reason why the landlord ought not to pay. But he disputed the fact. He did not think the tenant did pay whenever he had the right of shooting. Therefore, the ground for the clause was not a certain one. At that stage of the proceedings, he could not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Wilts. They ought, however, to go so far as to assess the landlord whenever game was kept up to a large extent.
said, there could be no doubt on the point of law, that whenever the right of sporting was let to the tenant, or was held by the landlord, the right was assessable, and was generally assessed.
said, that after the strong expression of opinion from both sides of the House, he felt he was bound hand and foot in the hands of the Philistines, and must make the best of it. He believed the Bill would work against the farmers' interest, and against the agricultural interest. Men who did not preserve game much, if they were rated by the assessment committee for that which was of little money value to them, would take care to have something for it. Men would preserve more if they were to be rated, would take care to have their money's worth; and he did not think it was politic or just to rate men for that which was of no value to them. The hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) said men should pay for the right of sporting, if they only walked over the land. There were people in towns who would pay anything to walk over the land. Those who were landlords were rated to the mast-head. It was a gross injustice. He should ask leave to withdraw his Amendment, but at the same time he entered his strong protest against the Bill.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
, in moving to add the following words at the end of the clause:—
said, they were intended to include oyster beds in some parts of Essex and in other counties. He believed that large incomes were derived from that source, and he thought it only right that a proper clause should be drawn to apply to that kind of property."Provided that the rights of fishing mentioned in this Act shall extend to all rights of fishing other than public rights, whether the same be held, used, or enjoyed cither exclusively or in common with any other person or persons, or whether they he general or limited to any particular kind or kinds of fish, and also to all rights incidental to the taking, culture, or propaga- tion of fish not rateable according to the present law,"
said, he was sorry he could not consent to the addition of the words proposed. He did not think them necessary for the purpose the hon. Gentleman had in view. If the fisheries were rateable, they would be rateable without the words proposed. If the oyster culture were attached to the soil of the parish, it would be rateable, and if not, he did not think the words proposed would make it so.
protested against the way in which Bills were passed through Committee. Having taken counsel's opinion on the clause, he was in a position to say that as it stood, oyster fisheries would not be rateable under it, and when he proposed to insert words which would make them rateable, the Government declined to accept his Amendment. It was idle, therefore, to press the matter against the Government, but he believed that if the matter was left as it was, it would lead to endless litigation to the benefit of the lawyers.
complained of the diversity of assessment with respect to mines, and suggested that in any future legislation on the subject of rating, a more fair and palateable mode of assessment should be adopted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 (Valuation of land used as plantations, &c.)
moved, as an Amendment in page 2, line 2, after "estimated," to leave out to end of sub-section (a), and insert, "According to the average annual amount which may reasonably be expected to be realized there-from."
said, he could not accept the Amendment. The section as now framed was less harsh as against wood owners than the provisions of the Bill of last Session.
, in moving, as an Amendment, to omit sub-section (c), which provided for the assessment of land used both for a plantation or wood, and for the growth of saleable underwood, said, he would bring up on the Report a sub-section which would deal more effectively with the property affected by the clause than would be the case if the sub-section were allowed to remain as it stood in the Bill. The course proposed would also meet the objections of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), who had given Notice of an Amendment as to the assessment of woods and plantations.
approved the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman.
said, he wished to point out that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sclater-Booth), if he did not take care, would find himself in a technical difficulty. If he struck out the sub-section now, and afterwards failed to find a satisfactory substitute, he would not be able to re-insert the sub-section on the Report, because it would be in effect a rating clause, and it would, therefore, be necessary to re-commit the Bill.
said, that he felt bound by the pledge he had given at an earlier period of the evening, and he must therefore press upon the Committee to strike out the sub-section.
wished the words to be kept as they stood, as being the best solution arrived at as the result of two Sessions of experience.
hoped the sub-section would not be withdrawn, unless they had some equivalent provision.
also suggested that the sub-section should be retained, at least provisionally, until some better proposal should be found to take its place.
said, there was evidently a strong feeling on both sides of the House in favour of retaining the sub-section, and as the right hon. Gentleman opposite had pledged himself to omit it, they could easily extricate him from his difficulty by going to a division and voting for the words as they stood. The right hon. Gentleman would then keep his word to the House, and the House would be doing what both sides required.
said, if the right hon. Gentleman could find other words better than those in sub-section (c), he could strike those now under consideration out, but he doubted that he could find better.
Amendment agreed to; sub-section struck out accordingly.
in moving, as an Amendment, to add the following Proviso at end of clause:—
said, he wished to leave the matter as it was already settled by Act of Parliament, under which, in several counties, beech wood had been specially assessed."Provided that when the occupier of a plantation or a wood is, at the passing of this Act, liable to he rated to the county or highway rate in respect of such plantation or wood, the value shall he estimated in like manner as it would at the passing of this Act he estimated for such county or highway rate,"
said, he did not see any objection to the Amendment, considering the peculiarity of beech wood.
could see no necessity whatever for the Proviso.
also contended that it was not necessary, and that if agreed to, the assessment committee would be placed in a difficulty, and be bound by what other county boards might determine should be the rateable value.
pointed out that the Proviso was so framed that it would be most perplexing to assessment committees.
said, his reason for assenting to the Proviso was, that it would bring the woods in at a much higher valuation, to which they already submitted, than the valuation laid down by this Bill, but he did not think the matter one worth much discussion, and he would recommend his hon. Friend to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause, as amended, agreed, to.
Clause 5 (Deduction of rate by tenant of plantation, &c.)
On the Motion of Mr. HENLEY, Amendment made in page 2, line 19, after "Act," by striking out the words, "whereby the timber is reserved to the landlord."
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 (Valuation and rating of rights of shooting, &c.)
moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 25, before the clause, to insert the words—
The noble Lord said, the object of the Amendment was to make it quite clear that the estimated gross value of the land should include the right of sporting. That would be the only way to avoid perpetual wrangles between landlord and tenant."(1.) The gross rateable value of the land shall he estimated so as to include the value of the right of fowling or shooting, or of taking or killing game or rabbits, or of fishing (hereinafter referred to as the right of sporting)."
thought the noble Lord would do well not to press the Amendment, because the words would not cover what was required. But even if there were no objection to the language, it was already the duty of the assessment committee to take everything into account in the gross estimated value, except, of course, the right of shooting. The language of the clause he was going to propose would really have the effect the noble Lord desired. It was the duty of the assessment committee to estimate the land at its gross value, and if they did not, they would not be doing their duty.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, as an Amendment, in line 27, to insert after the word "rabbits" the words "or of fishing."
remarked that there were a great many rights of fishing held by persons who were not owners or occupiers of the soil. He was in that case himself, and he thought it would be well to leave the word "fishing" out.
said, he did not see any harm in the insertion of the word "fishing."
Amendment agreed to; words inserted.
proposed, as an Amendment, that the assessment should be based on the value of the land for agricultural purposes. The assessment committee should not take into account the amount the shooting would realize if actually put into the market.
said, he could not agree with the insertion of the words, and did not believe they were necessary. It was quite impossible to blink the fact that the right of shooting was rated on some farms, and there were others where it ought to be rated. If there really was no shooting of value, it ought not to be taken into account.
would be sorry to see the Amendment withdrawn. There would be little change made in the assessment, if it were taken all through the country. He could not conceive that in places where the occupier merely walked over his land with his gun on his arm, any change was required. In some cases, the game would not be worth more than 4d. an acre, and the rate would not be worth taking. No provision was made for separate assessment, nor did he think separate assessment of game was required. A fresh assessment might increase the rateable value of the farm, which the tenant might attribute to game being now included, and he might go to the agent to have his conditions made accordingly. The landlord would then be placed at a disadvantage. He would, therefore, leave the thing alone where the occupier of the land was content to leave it alone.
objected to the alteration of the clause. The Amendment would only increase the difficulty in case of any difference between landlord and tenant, rather than the reverse.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 34, after the word "estimated" there should be inserted the words "but not otherwise," the object of the Amendment being to prevent a fancy valuation being placed upon sporting ground.
Amendment agreed to; words inserted.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 33, after "right;" to insert "unless such occupier shall, by notice to the assessment committee, require them to assess such right as a separate hereditament, and to rate him separately as the occupier thereof."
objected to the Amendment. It was not the occupier, but the owner who should be rated. He believed the proposed alteration instead of working beneficially, would only cause differences to arise between landlords and tenants.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 35, the omission of the words "subject to any contract to the contrary," which were inserted parenthetically in that part of the clause which gave a right to the tenant of the land to deduct from his rent such portion of any poor or other local rate as was paid by him in respect of any increase in the assessment by reason of the right of sporting not being severed from the occupation of the land.
remarked that there was nothing to prevent the landlord contracting with the tenant to pay all rates.
said, the clause was not intended to refer to future contracts, which were reserved by common sense and common right. He had no objection to the words being omitted, and to insert instead in the terms of the mining clause, "unless he has specifically contracted to pay such rate."
Amendment agreed to; words substituted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 (Gross and rateable value of the and copper mines).
moved, as an Amendment, in page 3, line 15, after "tin" to insert "lead."
moved to report Progress.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—( Sir Charles Russell.)
said, the House had been for 15 years trying to settle this question, and he hoped they would go on a little longer.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
said, that if it were just to depart from the principle in the case of tin and copper mines, it was equally just to depart from it in the case of lead mines.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remaining clauses agreed to.
moved, after Clause 9, to insert the following clause:—
(Assessment of tithe.)
"In the assessment of tithe (not being tithe the property of a lay improprietor) there shall he deducted from the gross value (for the purpose of calculating the rateable value) such sum as shall represent the average salary of one curate (the amount of such salary being certified by the bishop of the diocese in which the assessable property is situate), in addition to such other deductions as may be, on the passing of this Act, legally made in reduction of the gross value."
said, he had no objection to the clause if it met with the approval of the Committee, but he thought it rather beyond the scope of the Bill, as it would introduce quite a new principle. It would more properly-come within the scope of a valuation Bill than of a rating Bill, and such a Bill he hoped to introduce next year.
recommended the withdrawal of the clause, which he agreed was fitter for an assessment than a rating Bill.
said, if it was thoroughly understood that the Government adopted the principle of the clause, he would agree to withdraw it.
hoped the Government would not adopt the principle, which was contrary to the general principle of the Bill.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
moved the following clause:—
(Repeal of 6 and 7 Vict. c. 36.)
The hon. Member said, it was only a just and reasonable proposal that these societies should be exempted."The Act of the Session of the sixth and seventh years of the reign of Her present Majesty, chapter thirty-six, intituled 'An Act to exempt from County, Borough, Parochial, and other Local Hates, Land and Buildings occupied by Scientific or Literary Societies,' so far as relates to England, is hereby repealed as from the commencement of this Act."
opposed the clause. There would be an opportunity on another occasion of dealing with the question.
said, that though he hoped his hon. Friend would not press the Motion to a division, he wished to add that last year he proposed to repeal all exemptions.
thought it better that the whole subject should be allowed to remain over for the present.
hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a division.
trusted the clause would not be pressed, as it would be a breach of good faith if the Government should agree to it.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
moved the following clause:—
(Exemptions hitherto enjoyed by certain institutions.)
"And whereas it is expedient to declare and give effect in law to the exemption hitherto enjoyed by the institutions hereinafter mentioned from liability to poor rates. Be it further enacted and declared, That no land, houses or buildings, or parts of houses or buildings in the United Kingdom used exclusively as a hospital or infirmary for the relief of the sick poor, or for the transaction of the business relating to such hospital or infirmary, and yielding no pecuniary profit to the governors, administrators, or other trustees thereof, shall be deemed to be rateable to poor rates or to any local rates whatsoever."
New Clause brought up, and read the first time.
Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
said, he could not agree with the clause, because he believed it would be taking a step in a wrong direction. Many of these buildings to which the clause referred were most valuable property, and it would not be just to the parishes in which they were situated to exempt them from rating.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 162: Majority 121.
Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Thursday, and to be printed. [Bill 180.]