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Standing Committee Debates
Local Government Bill

Local Government Bill

Column Number: 307

Standing Committee A

Tuesday 4 February 2003

(Afternoon)

[Mr. Win Griffiths in the Chair]

Local Government Bill

Clause 43

Arrangements with respect to business improvement districts

Amendment moved [this day]: No. 94, in

    clause 43, page 19, line 22, after 'projects', insert 'and services'.—[Mr. Davey.]

2.30 pm

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

The Chairman: I remind the Committee that with this we are taking the following:

Amendment No. 71, in

    clause 43, page 19, line 23, after 'work', insert 'invest'.

Amendment No. 95, in

    clause 43, page 19, line 25, after 'projects', insert 'and services'.

Amendment No. 72, in

    clause 43, page 19, line 27, at end add

    'in relation to a hereditament owned in the business improvement district (''relevant hereditament''); and

    (c) where so specified in the BID arrangements, all or part of the BID levy to be paid by property owners, or a class of property owners, with an interest in the relevant hereditament superior to that held by the non-domestic ratepayer (''owners of superior property interests'') on whom the BID levy is imposed.'.

Amendment No. 93, in

    clause 43, page 19, line 27, at end add

    'in relation to a hereditament owned in the business improvement district; and

    (c) where so specified in the BID arrangements, all or part of the BID levy to be paid by property owners, or a class of property owners, with an interest in the relevant hereditament superior to that held by the non-domestic ratepayer on whom the BID levy is imposed.'.

Amendment No. 73, in

    clause 48, page 20, line 24, at end insert—

    '(1A) Any owners of superior property interests must be described in the BID arrangements

    (a) by name of the legal owner of the property interest,

    (b) by an address for service of any BID related information, and

    (c) by reference to the relevant hereditament to which the superior property interest relates.

    (1B) The means of calculating any BID levy to be paid by an owner of a superior property interest must be set out in the BID arrangements and must be an allocated proportion of the BID levy (''allocated proportion'') in respect of the relevant hereditament.

    (1C) The BID arrangements must specify the residual proportion (if any) of the BID levy (''residual proportion'') for which the non-domestic ratepayer will be liable.

    (1D) The aggregate of the allocated proportions and the residual proportion of the BID levy shall not exceed the amount that would be charged if the BID levy were being paid only by the non-domestic ratepayers.'.

Amendment No. 96, in

Column Number: 308

    clause 48, page 20, line 24, at end insert—

    '(1A) Any owners of superior property interests who are to be liable for BID levy for a chargeable period must be described in the BID arrangements—

    (a) by name of the legal owner of the property interest;

    (b) by an address for service of any BID-related information; and

    (c) by reference to the relevant hereditament to which the superior property interest relates.

    (1B) The means of calculating any BID levy to be paid by an owner of a superior property interest must be set out in the BID arrangements and must be an allocated proportion of the BID levy in respect of the relevant hereditament.

    (1C) The BID arrangements must specify the residual proportion (if any) of the BID levy for which the non-domestic ratepayer will be liable.

    (1D) The aggregate of the allocated proportions and the residual proportion of the BID levy shall not exceed the amount that would be charged if the BID levy were being paid only by the non-domestic ratepayer.'.

Amendment No. 151, in

    clause 48, page 20, line 28, at end insert—

    '( ) BID arrangements may specify that the owner of a non-domestic property should be liable to pay a BID levy.'.

Amendment No. 75, in

    clause 52, page 21, line 39, at end insert—

    '(4A) Where BID levy is to be paid by the owner of a superior property interest for the purposes of calculating A and B the owner of the superior property interest shall be treated as voting in relation to the allocated proportion of the rateable value of the relevant hereditament and the non-domestic ratepayer shall be taken as voting in relation to the residual proportion of the rateable value of the relevant hereditament.'.

Amendment No. 98, in

    clause 52, page 21, line 41, at end insert—

    '(5A) Where BID levy is to be paid by the owner of a superior property interest, for the purposes of calculating A and B the owner of the superior property interest shall be treated as voting in relation to the allocated proportion of the rateable value of the relevant hereditament and the non-domestic ratepayer shall be taken as voting in relation to the residual proportion of the rateable value of the relevant hereditament.'.

New clause 4—BID: No reimbursement to owner of superior interest—

    '. No owner of a superior property interest shall seek to be entitled to any reimbursement of the allocated proportion from any other owner of an interest in the relevant hereditament other than an interest created after the date on which the BID arrangements come into force.'.

New clause 5—Identification of Land Ownership for BIDs—

    '. A local authority or authorities shall, with respect to a Business Improvement District in their area, provide assistance in identifying the ownership of land within that Business Improvement District, when requested to do so by persons drawing up the BID proposals for that area.'.

Mr. Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton): Before the break, I had just begun what may be quite a long debate on business improvement districts and the amendments. I spoke briefly to amendments Nos. 94 and 95 and proceeded to other amendments relating to the role of property owners. Under the Bill, property owners will be outside the formal statutory framework for those who would be consulted, who would be asked to pay and who would formally have to be within a BID. I said that I disagreed with that for four major reasons.

Column Number: 309

The first reason is economic. Improving the value of the property is the logical consequence of a BID, which benefits property owners. The second reason relates to business. The associations and institutes that represent property owners are in favour of owners being introduced into the statutory framework. Thirdly, there is a political argument in favour of that. It seems rather odd that new Labour wants to exclude property owners from a tax, albeit a voluntary tax—

Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight): You said that this morning.

Mr. Davey: I am just rehearsing the arguments for Mr. Griffiths; that is a courtesy. The fourth reason—

Lawrie Quinn (Scarborough and Whitby): Surely the hon. Gentleman is not rehearsing—he is repeating.

Mr. Davey: I am helping the Chairman.

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold): Does the Liberal party need at least two attempts to get it right?

Mr. Davey: No, but we believe in courtesy. I thought that hon. Members who represented constituencies such as Cotswold would understand the importance of courtesy.

The final set of arguments, which I began to deal with and which I shall elaborate on now, are the bureaucratic arguments. I have been given a copy of a document written for the Minister by one of his officials in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. It sets out 16 arguments against what we propose. I call those bureaucratic arguments, because when I analysed them with the help of specialists in the property business and all those private sector bodies that have an interest in formulating and developing BIDs throughout the country, they rejected them all and persuaded me that none of them holds water. This debate gives us an opportunity to go through all 16 and knock them down.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Christopher Leslie): I suspect that the hon. Gentleman has a copy of a note that was produced on a fairly informal basis to help discussions with the British Property Federation. I do not think that it was the authoritative advice that was given to Ministers on this matter. It might be useful for him to know that when quoting the document.

Mr. Davey: The Minister very helpfully clarifies for the record that the arguments were given to the British Property Federation to argue against including property owners in the business improvement district framework. Clearly, it is a significant document, so it is worth referring to.

Mr. Leslie: I suspect that the hon. Gentleman has the document to which I referred, but I cannot be certain until he reads it out, so we shall wait and see—unless he would like to give me a copy now.

Mr. Davey: I will be more than happy to give the Minister a copy in due course.

Column Number: 310

I was coming to the first major argument, which is that the tax system in the United States—

Mr. Clifton-Brown: On a point of order, Mr. Griffiths. I understood that it was a convention in this House that when an hon. Member in Committee referred to any document, that document had to be made available to every member of the Committee. Can I have a ruling on that, and if so, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will make it crystal clear which document he is referring to?

The Chairman: My view is that the only documents that have to be available to every member are those the Government issue for the purpose of the Committee's work. Mr. Davey is quoting from either a non-parliamentary document or a document prepared in the House but not for this Committee, so it is not covered by that rule. However, I am sure that he would want to make it available.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: Further to that point of order, Mr. Griffiths. I do not want to try your patience, but it was my understanding as a long-standing Member of the House that when a document is referred to it should be crystal clear what that document is and that, where possible, it should be made available to all members of the Committee.

 
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