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Mr. Tim Sackville.


Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Buckley, George J.

Cryer, Bob

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Hinchliffe, David

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)

Meale, Alan

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Nellist, Dave

Patchett, Terry

Powell, Ray (Ogmore)

Turner, Dennis

Wise, Mrs Audrey

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. Martin Redmond and

Mr. Eric Illsley.

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Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendments made : No. 61, in page 152, leave out line 44 and insert--

(4) For subsection (4) there shall be substituted the following subsections --

"(4) Where regulations are for the time being in force under this section prescribing a description of non-domestic hereditament in relation to a person designated in the regulations ("the previously designated person"), amending regulations altering the designated person in relation to whom that description of hereditament is prescribed may have effect from a date earlier than that on which the amending regulations are made.

(4A) Where, by virtue of subsection (4) above, the designated person in relation to any description of non-domestic hereditament is changed from a date earlier than the making of the regulations,-- (

(a) any necessary alteration shall be made with effect from that date to a central non-domestic rating list on which any hereditament concerned is shown ; and

(b) an order making the provision referred to in paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 6 below and specifying a description of hereditament by reference to the previously designated person shall be treated, with effect from that date, as referring to the person designated by the amending regulations.".'.

No. 62, in page 152, line 45 leave out from beginning to following' and insert--

15.--(1) Section 55 (alteration of lists) shall be amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (4) (content of regulations)--

(a) in paragraph (b) after "as to the " there shall be inserted "manner and" and at the end there shall be added "and the information to be included in a proposal" ;

(b) in paragraph (d) for "making" there shall be substituted "and subsequent to the making of" ; and

(c) after paragraph (d) there shall be inserted--

"(dd) as to the circumstances within which and the conditions upon which a proposal may be withdrawn".

(3) In subsection (5) (regulations about appeals), for the words from "about" to "its alteration" there shall be substituted "between a valuaton officer and another person making a proposal for the alteration of a list--

(a) about the validity of the proposal ; or

(b) about the accuracy of the list".

(4) The'.-- [Mr. Gummer.]

3.15 am

Sir Charles Morrison : I beg to move amendment No. 37, in page 153, line 24, leave out paragraph 18 and insert

18.--(1) Schedule 5 paragraph 5(1)(a) shall be amended as follows-- " After livestock' insert or the breeding or rearing of horses or ponies.' ".'.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd) : With this it will be convenient to debate amendment No. 3, in page 153, line 30, leave out any' and insert

more than two hectares of'.

Amendment No. 4, in page 153, line 30, leave out or agricultural building'.

Amendment No. 5, in page 153, line 36, leave out subsection (a) and insert- -


(the proportion of such amount as the area of 500 square metres bears to the total floor area of such building.'.

Amendment No. 6, in page 153, line 42, leave out from beginning to end of line 48.

Sir Charles Morrison : Amendment No. 37 arises from a commitment given by Lord Caithness in another place during the course of the Local Government Finance Bill

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last year, and from my hon. Friend the Minister living up to that commitment in Committee on the Bill now before the House. I thank him for allowing time for discussion and correspondence on the derating of horse and pony breeding establishments, which has been a matter for debate for some years.

From the early 1930s until the early 1980s, horse and pony breeding establishments were derated, stemming from a court case in the early 1930s, so for 50 years rating authorities, 13 consecutive Parliaments, Labour, Conservative and coalition Governments and countless Ministers accepted without question that derating existed. In the early 1980s a rating authority decided to question that belief and gave rise to what became known as the Whitsbury stud case. Ultimately, in the autumn of 1987, the House of Lords decided that for the previous 50 years the law had been misinterpreted and that studs should be rated. Not to put too fine a point on it--the judgment was a good deal more complicated--that was the general effect. During the progress of that case through the courts, I gained the impression that if it went wrong for horse and pony breeders, the Government would look sympathetically at the possibility of restoring the law as it was thought to be. However, Ministers come and go and my early impression proved to be misguided. None the less, intensive discussion took place and the outcome is schedule 5 as drafted. Amendment No. 37 aims at restoring the pre-Whitsbury stud case situation to provide exemption from rating for those who breed or rear horses or ponies. Such breeding is an agricultural activity, as it is for the purpose of income tax, corporation tax and capital taxation, and it should qualify for derating. That horse and pony breeding is an agricultural activity is emphasised by the fact that it occurs in conjunction with other agricultural activities such as cattle and sheep grazing.

In an article in The Times yesterday, Sir Adam Butler writes that

"three out of four thoroughbreds never get near a racecourse and a good proportion of them and of the half-breds and ponies end up as food."

As a matter of interest, we are the biggest exporter of horseflesh for human consumption in the European Community, and a large proportion of our horsemeat is used in this country for dog and cat food.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food actively encourages farmers to adopt alternative land use. Horse and pony breeding is a natural alternative, and one that meets the growing interest in horse riding. It would be unfortunate, to put it mildly, if a deterrent to breeding and rearing horses and ponies were constructed. I hope that the Government will accept amendment No. 37, but if not I trust that they will consider instead amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6. The Government's objective in their Committee concession was, to quote a letter from my right hon. Friend the Minister to Sir Adam Butler, to

"extend the benefits of a reduction in rateable value to all breeding establishments which meet the agricultural requirements." To do that, the Government have inserted in lines 32 to 41 on page 153 of the Bill a method of reduction based on

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rateable value and subject to the introduction of an order by the Secretary of State stating the amount of rateable value to be taken into account when assessing a reduction.

That method seems to have two weaknesses. First, it ensures that there will be continuing uncertainty about rating, both for those involved in the breeding of horses and ponies and, more importantly, for those who may be contemplating going into that business as an alternative land use. Secondly, rateable values will vary in different parts of the country, which will mean not only that a thoroughbred breeder in, for example, Newmarket has a lower overall reduction than the thoroughbred breeder in Yorkshire or the west country, but the small farmer turning partly to horse and pony breeding as an alternative land use in Surrey or Sussex will, in effect, receive less remission than his equivalent in Wales and other lower -rated areas.

My amendments Nos. 3 to 6 aim to avoid those anomalies by reference to a reduction based on a common area of about 500 sq m. That is roughly equal to the area required for two mares and their young stock. I have a suspicion that initially the Government were thinking along the same lines as I was, but they for some unknown reason veered away to the more anomalous proposals.

To sum up-- [Interruption.] I am grateful to the House for that cheer. It is a great encouragement after working for seven years on this issue. I hope that the Government will be prepared to consider the total exemption, as it was before the Whitsbury stud case. If not, I hope that they will adopt my fallback position in amendments Nos. 3 to 6.

Mr. Gummer : It is reasonable for us to expect every section of the business community to bear its share of the burden of rates. It would not be possible to exempt horse breeding in this way. It was uncharacteristic of my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Sir C. Morrison) to speak in the way that he did because the Government have gone a long way and have talked over many months to reach a solution to deal with the de minimis situation. It seemed unfair, for example, that a farmer breeding horses as part of his operation would find a small area of his operation was rated. We tried to reach a compromise to prevent that from happening. I thought that everyone agreed that this was reasonable.

My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes asked, first, that we should get rid of all rating, and then that we should so extend the generous stand that my right hon. Friend in another place initially suggested as to cover a large number of people running a business like any other. It would be difficult to make that distinction. In my view, it would be wrong and unjustifiable. I cannot see the logic of it. My hon. Friend said that it would be more difficult now because there would be more people wishing to buy horses and be involved with horses, but that seems to be an argument on the other side. It would be good if the interests that my hon. Friend so admirably represents would accept that the Government have gone a long way towards meeting their wishes, and that our proposal is a reasonable and proper compromise which puts the industry at an advantage in relation to others. It is unreasonable to ask for any further compromise from the Government. I therefore hope that my hon. Friend will seek leave to withdraw his amendment and support what the Government have done.

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Sir Charles Morrison : My right hon. Friend the Minister entirely ignored the history of the matter, but as the hour is late and I know that right hon. and hon. Members want to get on with the business, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made No. 63, in page 153, line 24, at end insert-- (1A) In paragraph 2, in sub-paragraph (7) after paragraph (c) there shall be inserted--

"(cc) the quantity of refuse or waste material which is brought on to and permanently deposited on the hereditament".'.

No. 225, in page 154, line 5, at end insert--

.--(1) In Schedule 8 (non-domestic rating : pooling) Part II (non-domestic rating contributions) shall be amended as follows. (2) In paragraph 5, at the end of sub-paragraph (1) there shall be added "and has effect subject to any provision made by virtue of paragraph 6(2A) below".

(3) In paragraph 6, after sub-paragraph (2) there shall be inserted the following sub-paragraphs--

"(2A) Regulations under paragraph 4 above may incorporate in the rules provision for adjustments to be made in the calculation of the amount of an authority's non-domestic rating contribution under paragraph 5(2) or 5(6) above, being adjustments to take account of relevant changes affecting the amount of the authority's non-domestic rating contribution for an earlier year.

(2B) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (2A) above, a change is a relevant change if it results from a decision, determination or other matter which (whether by reason of the time at which it was taken, made or occurred or otherwise) was not taken into account by the authority in the calculation under paragraph 5(6) above of the amount of its non-domestic rating contribution for the earlier year in question.".'.

No. 64, in page 157, line 21, after time', insert being'. No. 65, in page 159, line 33, after maintenance', insert grant'.-- [Mr. Gummer.]

Schedule 6

Amendment of Scottish Enactments

Amendments made : No. 274, in page 162, line 8, at end insert-- Revenue support grants In section 23(2) of that Act, for the words from "a" onward there shall be substituted the words "grants (to be known as "revenue support grants") to local authorities".'. No. 272, in page 162, line 13, leave out paragraph 7 and insert-- Revenue support grant 7. For paragraphs 1 to 3 of Schedule 4 to that Act (revenue support grants) there shall be substituted the following paragraphs--

"1.--(1) The local authorities to which revenue support grant is payable in respect of a financial year shall be such local authorities as are specified by order made by the Secretary of State.

(2) The amount of revenue support grant payable in respect of a financial year to a local authority so specified shall be such amount as is determined in relation to the local authority by order made by the Secretary of State.

(3) The Secretary of State may at any time by order amend or revoke any order made under this paragraph and any amount of revenue support grant which has been paid and which, in consequence of anything done under this paragraph, falls to be repaid may be recovered by the Secretary of State whenever and however he thinks fit.

2.--(1) An order under paragraph 1 above shall be made only with the consent of the Treasury.

(2) Before making an order under paragraph 1 above the Secretary of State shall consult such associations of local authorities as appear to him to be appropriate.

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(3) An order under paragraph 1 above together with a report of the considerations which led to its provisions shall be laid before the Commons House of Parliament but shall have no effect until approved by a resolution of that House.".'.-- [Mr. Rifkind.]

Clause 129

Power to allow charges

Amendments made : No. 50, in page 112, line 28, leave out to be a certain amount, or'.

No. 51, in page 112, line 30, leave out from maximum' to end of line 31.

No. 52, in page 112, line 32, leave out from provide' to amount' in line 33 and insert

that a charge may not exceed a minimum'.

No. 53, in page 112, leave out lines 38 to 42.-- [Mr. Gummer.]

Clause 130

Power to amend provisions about charges

Amendments made : No. 54, in page 113, line 38, leave out to be a certain amount, or'.

No. 55, in page 113, line 39, leave out from maximum' to end of line 40.

No. 56, in page 113, line 41, leave out from provide' to amount' in line 42 and insert

that a charge may not exceed a maximum'.

No. 57, in page 114, leave out lines 1 to 5-- [Mr. Gummer.]

Clause 131

Interpretation, consultation and commencement of ss. 129 and 130

Amendments made : No. 241, in page 115, line 24, after consult', insert--

(a) as respects England and Wales.'.

No. 242, in page 115, line 25, after government', insert and (b) as respects Scotland, such associations of local authorities'.-- [Mr. Gummer.]

Schedule 7

Welsh Language Names for Local Authorities

Amendments made : No. 106, in page 163, line 19, leave out section 21(4)' and insert

by virtue of a resolution under section 21(5)'.

No. 107, in page 163, line 22, leave out section 33(2A)' and insert

by virtue of a resolution under section 33(2B)'.

No. 108, in page 163, line 23, at end insert--

6. After section 245 (status of certain districts, parishes and communities) there shall be inserted the following section " Power for borough and town councils in Wales to adopt Welsh language form of their descriptions, etc.

245A.--(1) If and so long as this subsection is in force in relation to a district in Wales which, by virtue of section 245(1) above, has the status of a borough or for which, by virtue of section 245(4) above, the style of borough may be used--

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