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Valuation Of Public Undertakings

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 19 February 1975

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I beg to move Amendment No. 7, in page 6, leave out lines 36 to 43 and insert—

'(c) value any lands and heritages which—
  • (i) were in existence on 16th May 1975 and which, owing to error, were not included in the roll made up by the Assessor for the year 1975–76 and which he is required under any enactment to value,
  • (ii) have come into existence at any time between 16th May 1975 and the beginning of the first year of revaluation thereafter and which he is required under any enactment to value,
  • (iii) were in existence on 16th May 1975 but which by or under an enactment have first fallen to be valued by the Assessor at any time between that date and the beginning of the first year of revaluation thereafter.
  • (2) The Assessor shall direct the assessor for any valuation area ("the local assessor") containing any lands and heritages which the Assessor has valued or revalued under subsection (1) above to enter those lands and heritages in the valuation roll.'.

    With this, we are to consider Government Amendment No. 8.

    8.45 p.m.

    I am sorry that these amendments are so lengthy. They are intended to achieve a comparatively simple objective, and they are mainly of technical significance.

    We provide in Clause 5 that, in cases where valuations are made by the Assessor of Public Undertakings, the valuations so arrived at shall not be provided for on a separate roll but shall be entered into the local valuation rolls. We have to provide for the period between the last valuation and circumstances which may arise before the next one. Basically, therefore, we are making provision for this interim period.

    Amendment No. 7 makes provision for the assessor to continue to make his valuations after 16th May 1975 until the next revaluation—for example, for new properties coming into existence—and the timings of all these are the same as in the other circumstances of the ordinary rolls that we provide for in Clause 2.

    The effect of Amendment No. 8 is to introduce five new subsections. Subsec- tion (4) attracts the same dates as those attracted by the other changes in Clause 2. Subsection (5) limits the right of appeal of the proprietor, tenant or occupier of the subjects valued by the assessor. Once the period for appealing against directions is over, appeals will be competent only upon a material change of circumstance.

    Subsection (6) deals with the machinery for appeals. Since the normal machinery for appeals and complaints to the local valuation committee does not apply in the case of valuations made by the Assessor of Public Undertakings, the subsection disapplies the normal appeals procedure. Appeals in these cases go straight to the Lands Valuation Appeal Court.

    Subsection (7) empowers the making of regulations so as to facilitate the modernisation of the office of the APU and his staff and the financing of his unit. The Assessor of Public Undertakings is in an odd position. He is not quite a civil servant; he is a quasi-civil servant. His salary and expenses are paid by the local authorities. It is a rather unsatisfactory situation. Here we are providing that he shall be absorbed into the Civil Service. I have just said that his expenses are defrayed by the local authorities. I should have said that they are defrayed by the undertakings in respect of which he carries out valuations. We are getting rid of that provision and bringing him basically within the Civil Service. Some of this procedure will be done by regulations. Subsection (8) provides that the regulations under subsection (7) will be subject to negative resolution.

    I hope that that is a reasonably clear explanation of what appears to be a complicated amendment.

    I have one brief question on Amendment No. 8. Subsection (6) reads:

    "Notwithstanding anything in any enactment, no person may complain or appeal to a valuation appeal committee against an entry in the valuation roll made in consequence of a direction under this section."
    There is the possibility that a private trader or resident may take the view that something has been included in such a direction which should be not be included. We discussed the question of the gas and electricity boards having houses which would not be included in general valuation.

    Why should this provision be written into legislation? We can understand that if an appeal is not competent, the valuation appeal committee will say so, but why should this provision be written into the Bill? It seems that the subsection is unnecessary and it could, if it had any effect at all, be rather unjust. It is more than likely that no person would have any valid complaint or appeal to a valuation appeal committee against a direction under this clause, but why do we have to insert this provision in the clause? I am genuinely puzzled. If it means anything I think that its meaning is rather unjust. I fancy that it will have little effect and, therefore, it should not be included.

    I am sorry that this is a complicated amendment. We are dealing with the valuation of statutory undertakings—for example, nationalised industries—rather than individual persons. Therefore, the circumstance would not arise that an individual householder, for example, would be likely to be appealing against the valuation made by the Assessor of Public Undertakings even if his particular house were included in the valuation. The valuation would relate to the nationalised industry or the statutory undertaker concerned. As these are special valuations, the provisions have never allowed appeals to the local valuation appeal committee.

    Valuation appeals are dealt with by the Lands Valuation Appeal Court, and that is preserved. There is no question of taking away the right of appeal in any way or of changing the right of appeal. We are making it clear that there is no appeal in these cases to the local valuation appeal committee, but the appeal remains open to the Lands Valuation Appeal Court. We have to make this provision explicit because the valuations are not to be kept on a separate roll kept by the Assessor of Public Undertakings.

    The valuations are now to go on the local valuation roll. Because they go there they do not attract the normal appeal procedure as that is not relevant or appropriate to the matters which are involved in formulating valuations. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no reduction in the right of appeal and that the right remains as it is at present.

    With the leave of the House, I wish to ask a question. The kind of situation that I am envisaging is when a private householder wishes to give comparisons before the valuation appeals committee. Suppose that he looks at one house which he thinks is an appropriate comparison and then finds, either because of policy or because of an error, that this house, which may be owned by the gas or electricity board, has been included in the gross figure of the undertaking valuation. Is he not therefore entitled to complain to the valuation appeal committee? If not, to whom can he complain?

    This is an unlikely situation, but the subsection covers an unlikely situation. Perhaps the Assessor of Public Undertakings has said that an office of the electricity board, which is included in the building or headquarters in a local authority area, should be included in the total and not valued separately. This might apply to a showroom, for example. Suppose I wanted to quote the valuation of that office but was told by the assessor that it was included in the global figure. This is something about which a ratepayer is entitled to complain to someone. To whom does he complain, and would not this subsection remove that right to complain?

    The Minister has said that the undertaking can appeal only to the Lands Valuation Appeal Court, but what about the individual who wishes to quote such an instance? Is it not fair and reasonable that he should be able to complain to someone or some committee?

    Houses will not be included in the formula valuation at all and will therefore be valued in the normal way by the local assessor. Whether they are owned by the gas board, the water undertaking or any other undertaking will not make the slightest difference. They will be on the normal roll and can be appealed or quoted in evidence in the normal way. The same applies to showrooms and other commercial premises. They will not be included in the formula valuation, so the normal procedures will apply, whether at the instance of the nationalised undertaking or of any person. We are dealing only with matters which are included in a formula valuation.

    Of course, a formula valuation which may relate to gas works or power stations or water undertakings is a total valuation. I am not absolutely clear whether anyone other than the undertaking itself has a right to appeal, but, whether it does or not, the appeal will be on the basis of the valuation of the whole undertaking with the necessary exclusions that I have mentioned. Unless there are individuals in Scotland running their own massive power stations which are being valued by the local assessor, it is highly unlikely that they will want to complain or to quote in aid the formula valuation for another power station which is dealt with by the Assessor of Public Undertakings. If that were the situation, which is highly unlikely, the appeal procedure would still apply, but the appeal is not to the local committee—which is all that I said in the first place.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendment made: No. 8, in page 7, line 16, at end insert—

    '(4) Any entry made in the valuation roll—
  • (a) where the valuation has been made under subsection (1)(b)(i) or (c)(i) above, shall have effect only as from the beginning of the year in which the entry is made;
  • (b) where the valuation has been made under subsection (1)(b)(ii) or (c)(ii) above, shall have effect only as from the date when the lands and heritages to which the entry relates came into existence or as from the beginning of the year in which the entry is made, whichever is the later;
  • (c) where the valuation has been made under subsection (1)(b)(iii) or (c)(iii) above, shall have effect only as from the coming into effect of the enactment by or under which the Assessor is required to value the lands and heritages, or as from the beginning of the year in which the entry is made, whichever is the later;
  • (d) in pursuance of a further direction given under the proviso to subsection (2) above, shall have effect only as from the date of the event by reason of which the further direction is given or as from the beginning of the year in which such direction is given, whichever is the later.
  • (5) Without prejudice to section 24 of the Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act 1854 (appeal against entry in roll in consequence of direction) and subject to section 26 of that Act (right of appeal to be forfeited where refusal to answer call by Assessor for books and writings, etc.), the proprietor, tenant or occupier of lands and heritages which are included in the valuation roll in consequence of a direction under this section may at any time while the roll is in force appeal to the Lands Valuation Appeal Court against the entry in the roll but only on the ground that there has been a material change of circumstances affecting the value of the lands and heritages since the entry was made:
    Provided that appeal under this subsection shall be competent only where the proprietor, tenant or occupier has given notice in writing to the Assessor before lodging the appeal of the material change of circumstances.
    (6) Notwithstanding anything in any enactment, no person may complain or appeal to a valuation appeal committee against an entry in the valuation roll made in consequence of a direction under this section.
    (7) The Secretary of State may make regulations providing for—
  • (a) the payment of remuneration, pensions, allowances, gratuities to, or transfer values in respect of, the Assessor and his clerks and other officers, and the manner in which such payment is to be financed;
  • (b) the terms and conditions of employment of the Assessor and his clerks and other officers;
  • (c) the amendment or repeal, with or without savings, of any enactment which is inconsistent with or superseded by the regulations.
  • (8) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (7) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.'—[Mr. Millan.]