asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in view of the situation facing small businesses as a result of rate increases, he will consider relieving the owners of small shops which have closed from the burden of paying 50 per cent. rates on their unused shops.
I think this is a matter which should be left to the discretion of the rating authorities. They now have a wide discretion in the operation of the empty property rate. They may levy it in only part of their area, or only on specified classes of property, and levy any proportion of the full rate on those classes. In particular they may in individual cases reduce or remit the rate where hardship would otherwise be caused to the person liable.