My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have yet decided upon the necessary legislation to apply to the assessment for rates of housing adapted for wheelchairs or other requirements of the severely disabled, following the Statement on 10th May by the Minister concerned that present legislation on this subject was being carefully examined.
My Lords, I cannot add to what was said by my noble friend Lord Kirkhill on 27th September during the Committee stage of the Valuation and Rating (Exempted Classes) (Scotland) Bill. I can only repeat his assurance that the Government will consider, in the light of the legal advice which they are obtaining urgently, what changes are needed to meet judicial criticisms of the legislation governing rating relief for disabled persons both North and South of the Border. We shall consider what can be done to simplify the operation of the provisions while at the same time ensuring sympathetic treatment for the disabled, and any necessary legislation will be introduced as soon as possible.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that Answer. As about five months have passed since the Minister's Statement following the comments by noble and learned Lords in the Vandyk case, that the legislation was both unsatisfactory and obscure, may I ask the noble Baroness whether she expects to be ready to make a Statement about this within the next few weeks?
Yes, my Lords; we are obtaining Counsel's Opinion. We understand that the Opinion is likely to be available early next week, and I hope to be able to make a Statement to the House soon afterwards.