Lords amendment: No. 15, in page 4, line 46, leave out from "the" to "value" in line 47 and insert
"assessed rental or, as the case may be the gross annual, net annual or rateable"
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.
With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 16 to 25.
This group of amendments to clause 5 are also technical. The most significant are numbers 15 to 19, which introduce into subsections (1) and (2) the concept of "assessed rental". This term has not had any relevance to valuation for rating purposes since the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act 1956, but it still appears in a number of deeds of condition for tenement properties, particularly in the west of Scotland. It was accordingly suggested by the Property Owners and Factors Association of Scotland, and by the Law Society of Scotland, that the absence of any translation of the term "assessed rental" in clause 5 might create practical difficulties, and it seems sensible that the Bill should seek to avoid this possibility. The amendments also have the effect of clarifying the meaning of "assessed rental" by equating it to "net annual value" in all cases.The purpose of amendments 20 to 23 is to ensure that, for the purposes of subsection (3) of clause 5, references in enactments to gross annual value, net annual value or rateable value take proper account of material changes of circumstances affecting the value of the property concerned. Amendment No. 24 is also of a technical nature. Subsections (1), (2) and (3) of the clause refer specifically to the appearance of net annual values in the valuation roll. Although valuation rolls must have a column for net annual value, assessors do not have to put a figure in that column if net annual value is the same as rateable value—as it is in most cases—so there would be difficulty in operating clause 5 where the net annual value column has been left blank. The amendment would require that in such cases, references in the clause to the appearance in the roll of net annual value should be taken as references to the appearance of rateable value.
Put a bit of emotion into it.
The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) may find this point very complicated, as indeed it is for the uninitiated in the law. However, it is of great importance to those who operate the law, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will accept that these are useful amendments.The final amendment in this group, Lords amendment No. 25, defines the terms "gross annual value","net annual value" and "rateable value" for the purposes of clause 5 only. Given the purposes of clause 5, it is clearly necessary that the values be calculated on the basis of the law in force immediately before the domestic valuation and rating systems are abolished, and I am pleased to say that the amendment achieves this. As I have explained, the amendments in this group are largely technical. They make a number of useful improvements to the clause, and I commend them to the House.
Very briefly, I want to inquire why the amendments were introduced in another place so late in the consideration of the Bill. If they are as important as the Minister has suggested, did they not occur to the Minister prior to the introduction of the Bill? If not, is that not evidence of what the alliance has been saying all along—that the Bill was ill considered and rushed in judgment?
If the hon. Gentleman had listened to me, he would have found that these are detailed points of law. The term "assessed rental" has not had any relevance to valuation for rating purposes since the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act 1956. We are therefore very grateful to the practitioners who are concerned about such matters — for example, the Property Owners and Factors Association of Scotland and the Law Society of Scotland. Those two bodies drew these points to our attention. I should have thought that the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) would welcome the fact that we have taken those representations on board.
Question put and agreed to.
Lords amendments Nos. 16 to 27 agreed to.