All 1 Debates between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Marlesford

Council Tax Valuation Bands Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Marlesford
Friday 22nd April 2016

(8 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness D'Souza Portrait The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza)
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My Lords, if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments 2, 3 and 4 by reason of pre-emption.

Lord Marlesford Portrait Lord Marlesford (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend has made it clear that he does not like the Bill and would not wish it to make progress. It is difficult not to make a very brief Second Reading point on why we have the Bill at all. It is because the existing system is totally out of date. It is totally irrelevant. One has only to note the public complaints that there have been about the fact that the difference between the council tax paid by the humblest dwelling and the most expensive, luxurious penthouse in London is only 3:1.

My noble friend spoke about fixing on particular dates. Indeed, it is fixed on the date of the original legislation in the early 1990s. That is not something I seek to perpetuate. I seek very simply to say that we need a change that will be administratively easy, relatively. The argument always used against change has been the need for revaluation. That is precisely the need that I seek to avoid by using the actual prices paid as recorded in the Land Registry and in any subsequent transition, including, of course, in the case of inheritance, where a valuation is made for that purpose for probate, and, indeed, in the case of gift for other tax purposes. There is a rather limited number of valuations. The number of properties that transfer in ownership between inheritance and gift is probably a relatively small proportion of the total transfers. They need evaluation. All the other transfers are recorded, when they are made, in the Land Registry. It is the Land Registry that I seek to use.

Frankly, my noble friend does not think it worth proceeding with this change, which is well overdue. It is the outrage, in a sense, at the present system that caused the invention of the so-called mansion tax, which was not a great success and has far more difficulties. I do not think that it is particularly on anybody’s agenda.

I take the points about the detail. I am not trying for one moment to prescribe the bands, nor am I trying to prescribe the proportional increases. I have illustrated them in the Bill, but as my noble friend said, the committee in your Lordships’ House that scrutinises the legislation said—I read its report—that this would be a matter to be done by statutory instrument, as an order. There will be a long time before it is decided exactly what bands are appropriate, but I certainly suggest something much closer to the bands that I propose. At present, as your Lordships know, band A is up to a value of £40,000 and band H up to £320,000. In the illustrative tables I produced there is no difference between the council tax to be charged for band A and not very much difference for band B. Instead of being 17% more, it will be 33% more. The difference, of course, is that band A will cover anything up to £250,000 and band B, in my suggestion, everything up to £500,000. As for houses worth £1 million or more, again, it is only a relatively small increase, because we are talking about a council tax which, give or take £100 or £200—it varies, of course, throughout the country—is £1,000 for band A and only about £3,000 for band B. Those are the actual figures that people pay, as noble Lords will know. Therefore, in the illustrative tables I have put in the Explanatory Notes, based on what is in the Bill, there is no enormous difference for the lower rates.