I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 20 July 2009, Official Report, column 824W. Ministers at Communities and Local Government or its predecessor departments have not given any instructions to the Valuation Office Agency on the separate rating of properties within or outside of Ports.
The principles concerning separate rateability of properties where there is “exclusive occupation” and “paramount control” are long established and have not been recently introduced by the Government. The leading case on the subject is a House of Lords decision from 1936—Westminster Council v. Southern Railway Company and W.H. Smith and Son.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has received correspondence from:
(a) no foreign governments;
(b) no ferry operators;
(c) one car importer;
(d) four port businesses;
(e) 12 hon. Members; and
(f) no local authorities with ports in their areas,
concerning the issues arising from the rating review of ports since 1 July 2009.
As at 9 September 2009, the Valuation Office Agency has applied the fast track arrangements to 703 appeals made by port businesses, 355 of which relate to new business rating assessments with an effective date of 1 April 2005.
Of the 355 appeals, 154 have now been settled, 48 by agreement and 106 withdrawn. Where agreement has been reached this has resulted in a reduction in the rateable value. The outstanding appeals are in various stages of discussion depending on the facts of each case.
The Government do not hold information on individual payments of ongoing business rates liabilities. With regard to the backdated business rates liabilities for the port properties affected by the Valuation Office Agency review of rating, local authorities have reported that businesses occupying 209 properties within ports have fully paid their backdated liabilities and that businesses occupying a further 201 properties have been granted a schedule of payments.