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Volume 345: debated on Thursday 30 March 1939

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asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Exchequer grants to boroughs and urban districts to cover the loss of rates due to the derating of industrial hereditaments do not meet the loss sustained, and that it is necessary in some areas to increase rates by sums varying up to 1s. in the £ thus imposing an unreasonable burden on the other ratepayers; and whether he will undertake to review the working of the Derating Act so that the gap between the loss sustained by local authorities and the amount received from the Exchequer may be considerably lessened?

Although in grand total the Exchequer grants to local authorities under the Local Government Acts, 1929 and 1937, take account of the loss of rates due to derating in 1929, their distribution is mainly in accordance with needs for local government services in any area in relation to the ability of the area to meet the cost. A statutory investigation into the working of the rules for distribution was completed two years ago and certain modifications were proposed with the general concurrence of the Associations of Local Authorities. These were embodied in the Act of 1937 in which also provision is made for a further statutory investigation in due course.

May I ask the hon. Member to look into this matter a little further? Does he not realise the injustice which is done to poor people who have to pay an additional rate of 1s. 4d. in the £ more than they would otherwise pay while industrial establishments and business undertakings are making large profits? Is it not time that the Derating Act was repealed?