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Clause 52—(Cancellation Or Reduc Tion Of Liability For Development Charges)

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1954

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I beg to move, in page 54, line 22, to leave out from "workers," to "the," in line 23.

8.45 p.m.

The House will recall that under an arrangement for dealing with cottages for agricultural workers, development charges were held in suspense. It seems to us to be putting a quite unnecessary administrative burden on the Central Land Board to have to inquire into the circumstances of the last couple of years or so with regard to these cottages. This might be arguable if the charge were continuing, but as it has gone, to keep these inquiries going into past circumstances seems to be putting an unnecessary burden on the Board, and the object of the Amendment is to avert that.

We discussed the substance of this matter in Committee, and no doubt the Opposition still hold the same view as they expressed then. I think that the Amendment makes clearer what the Government tried to make clear when the Bill was drafted. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Horobin), because the words which he asks the House to accept do make clearer the Government's intentions.

I do not want there to be any misunderstanding between the two sides of the House as to what is the Government's intention. The Government's intention is that the old procedure cannot be carried on merely for the purpose of trying to find out whether someone, who built an agricultural cottage without paying development charge, in five, 10, 15 or 30 years ahead turned that cottage into some other house. It may be that it would be right to do so, but I do not think that it is. When a tax is abolished it is abolished, and that is the end of it. Whatever may be the theoretical merits of doing so, the real trouble is that we cannot ask the Central Land Board to do this job. I think that on practical grounds we cannot do it, and since this Amendment makes more clear what we want to do, I ask the House to accept it.

Amendment agreed to.