Rating (Valuation) Bill — 11 Jan 1999
Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I can assure you, Madam Speaker, that none of this has reached "Today" or anywhere else, but, none the less, hon. Members are leaving the Chamber. The Rating (Valuation) Bill is brief and aims to place the law on rating valuations of non-domestic property on a fair and equitable footing. It will ensure parity of treatment between ratepayers and make explicit the assumptions that underlie the valuations made for the 1990 and 1995 rating lists. It will also apply to future revaluations.
It might help hon. Members if I start by saying something about non-domestic rates. They are a tax on non-domestic property. Rates bills are calculated by multiplying the rateable value of a property by a poundage set annually by central Government. It is therefore essential that rateable values are assessed fairly. To ensure that rates bills are based on up-to-date values, a full revaluation exercise is carried out every five years. Revaluations are carried out on the basis of a common valuation date--for example, the revaluation in 1995 was based on rental values on 1 April 1993. They are also made on the basis of certain assumptions, one of which derives from long-standing case law dating from before the Local Government Finance Act 1988.
That case law required all valuations to be based on an assumed state of reasonable repair, and valuation officers have valued property on that basis since the introduction of national non-domestic rates following the 1988 Act. They have assumed that--other than in extreme cases, and whatever its actual condition at the valuation date--the property is, and remains, in a state of reasonable repair.
That is a fair and reasonable assumption to make. It has underpinned the rating valuations carried out by the Valuation Office for the 1990 and 1995 rating lists and informed the way in which thousands of appeals against those valuations have been decided. On 11 March 1998, however, in the case of Benjamin v. Anston Properties, the Lands Tribunal held that the valuer could not assume a state of reasonable repair, but that the valuation should instead reflect the actual condition of the property at the valuation date.
Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:--
The House divided: Ayes 268, Noes 30.
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