Skip to main content

Amount Of Rebate Under Section 1

Volume 949: debated on Friday 12 May 1978

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

3.30 p.m.

I beg to move Amendment No. 51, in page 10, line 5, leave out from beginning to end of line 12 on page 11 and insert—

"General. 1. The amount of any rebate under section 1 of this Act shall be so much of the rates chargeable for the hereditament for the rebate period as are attributable to so much of the hereditament as is, in terms of subsection (2) of the said section 1, referable to the needs of the disabled person; provided that the rating authority may, if they think fit, increase the debate by an additional amount equal to one-fifth of the amount so attributable."

I think that it will be convenient to discuss at the same time the following amendments: No. 62, in page 11, line 18, leave out "4 or 5" and insert "1".

No. 63, in page 11, leave out lines 31 and 32.

For the convenience of the House, I should be happy to link all the remaining amendments together.

In that case, we may discuss also the following amendments: No. 55, in page 10, line 31, after "(e)", insert "or (f)".

No. 57, in page 10, line 37, leave out paragraph 7.

No. 60, in page 11, line 3, leave out "or 7(b)".

The purpose of these amendments, as much as anything else, is to probe matters which were not probed in Committee.

Essentially, two questions arise. The first is why a totally different method of calculating the rebate has been adopted for Scotland from that for England. For Scotland the rebate is related to the actual amount of the rateable value which can be attributed to the facility for the disabled. For England, a series of arbitrary sums is laid down for a bathroom, a lavatory, another room, a garage or a piece of hard standing. There is no attempt to value them specifically, and there is a whole schedule to cope with them. My amendment would substitute the Scottish method for the English one proposed in the Bill. I simply want to know the reason for the difference.

Within Schedule 1, relating to this totally different method of calculating the rebate for England, there is an apparently ridiculous and fiddling distinction between garages or land covered in Clause 1(2)(e) and those covered in subsection (2)(f). Both concern garages or land used for a car. It is simply that one covers a garage which is with the hereditament and the other a garage which is not.

Different methods of calculating the rebate are provided for in the schedule, according to whether the garage is or is not attached. There is an arbitrary figure where the garage is part of the hereditament; where it is not, it has to be valued. It would seem more sensible to have the same arbitrary figure to both, if we are to have arbitrary figures at all.

The hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) asks why things are different. The simple answer is, because they are different. Different consultations were held—in England and Wales by the Department of the Environment and in Scotland by the Scottish Office—and opposite conclusions were reached. Those consulted in England and Wales believed that a tariff method would lead to greater certainty about the amount of relief. In Scotland, they reached the opposite conclusion.

We therefore faced the difficulty of doing it this way or proceeding with two separate Bills. Since I won a place in the Ballot, I should have been assured of a much quicker passage by sticking to Scotland. I could have by-passed the Floor of the House and gone to the Scottish Grand Committee.

Although—I can say this without revealing any secrets—there have been intense consultations between the Department of the Environment and the Scottish Office, details of which I cannot reveal, probably because I do not know the whole story, they could not agree that all these provisions could be married together. In the circumstances, it was thought possible and desirable to deal with rating relief for the disabled on a United Kingdom basis in a United Kingdom Bill. We did not want to make a rapid advance in Scotland by clarifying the law there while not clarifying it in England.

This has led to anomalies. The intention, north and south of the border, is that rate relief should be given and that the amount to be given to individual applicants should be roughly the same. Things are different and it looks as though they will remain different. There is no point in imposing uniformity.

On the second amendment, we have proceeded with the first draft of the Bill along the lines suggested in relation to the tariff on garages. In Committee the point was raised that there might be some cases in which this would lead to a reduction in rebates being made available. We changed the Bill to suit hon. Members. We have tried to make sure that no one who receives an existing rebate will have his rebate reduced if that is possible under the Bill. That is a tortous explanation. I hope the hon. Member for Braintree will accept it and say "Vive la différence".

It is extraordinary that differences should exist, that in Scotland there should be a precise valuation and in England a crude valuation. I accept what the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) says. I would not want to suppress the differences between Scotland and England even if I thought that they might be limited to areas other than this.

On the basis of what the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 52, in page 10, line 7, after '7', insert 'and 5A'.

No. 53, in page 10, line 29, at end insert—

' Sufficient floor space for use of wheel chair

5A. Where the hereditament is within section 1(2)(dd) the rebate shall be equal to the rates that would be chargeable on the hereditament for the rebate period of its rateable value were £30.'.

No. 59, in page 11, line 3, after '3'. insert '5A'.

No. 64, in page 11, line 32, after first '( b)', insert '5A'.—[ Mr. Robert Hughes.]

Bill read the Third time and passed.