A broad distinction must, therefore, be drawn between owners of site values who have reversionary interests capable of increasing in value, and the owners of feu duties who have no reversions, and no opportunities of revising their bargains.
17,130-3. Brand, 16,053-60. M'Bain, 16,448. See also Report of Committee of Lanarkshire County Council, Vol. III. of Min. of Ev., App. No. IV., p.
Murison, 14,469-70. Burt, Vol. III. of Min. of Ev., App. No. XIV., par. 2.
Professor Smart, Professor of Political Economy in the University of Glasgow, has pointed out in his book on the "Taxation of Land Values and the Single Tax," that in Scotland the "superior" is not the analogue of the London ground-owner, as the former has no reversionary interest, while the latter at the end of a lease enters into full possession of his ground with the buildings on it, with all its increased value.
He adds that to tax the owner of a feu duty is not to tax on account of benefit received or of growing ability to pay, for he never enters into any increased value; it is simply to penalise a person who cannot escape.
Those who supported the special rating of site values naturally come mainly from urban districts, and the witnesses who appeared before the Royal Commission on Local Taxation were chiefly from Glasgow, the Corporation of that city having taken a considerable interest in the question for some years.
In 1890 a special Committee of the Corporation was appointed to draw up a report on the subject of land values. A report was agreed to and presented to the Council in 1891, but it was rejected by the casting vote of the chairman.
After subsequent discussions and proceedings, a resolution was carried in June, 1895, by a majority of one, that the Police Commissioners should accept the report, and that the clerk should be instructed to communicate with the various Assessing Authorities in Scotland, requesting their co-operation to petition Parliament in favour of amending the law in accordance with a report which had been drawn up. In response to requests from the various Authorities for further information on the subject, a copy of the recommendation of the Royal Commission of the Housing of the Working Classes (1885) was sent to them, together with an explanatory schedule,1 and in 1896 the Committee reported "that 62 Scottish Assessing Authorities, consisting of 7 Town Councils, 8 Police Burghs,
Burt, Vol. III. of Min. of Ev., App. No. XIV, pars. 3, 6.
Parliamentary Paper C. 4402 of 1889.
1 Chisholm, Vol. III. of Min. of Ev., App. No. XXIV.
I County Council, and 46 Parish Councils, had intimated their approval of the principle of making land values the basis of local taxation, and their willingness to join with Glasgow in seeking the necessary powers from Parliament to give effect to it."1 It was carried by a majority of nine that the report should be adopted, and that the Council should present a petition to Parliament in favour of making land values the basis of the taxation of the city.
No definite scheme was placed before the Royal Commission on Local Taxation by Scottish witnesses for rating site values and feu duties. Mr. James Gray, who represented the City of Glasgow, said: "We do not consider it our business to submit a scheme, as we had neither sufficient experience nor the material to aid us in doing so."
In 1896, when the Corporation learned of the appointment of the Local Taxation Commission, a Committee was appointed to consider and report on questions within the scope of the inquiry, and a report was submitted to the Corporation when certain resolutions were passed by a majority, those referring to rating of site values and feu duties being as follows: "The taxation of land seems to the Corporation a just proposal, and they recommend that the taxation of land values is the most equitable method of removing the present inequalities of local taxation.
"It is the earnest desire of the Corporation that the Royal Commission on Local Taxation should impress upon the Government the necessity of this question being not further delayed, whereby we may have at no distant date a scheme placed before the country that shall be fair and equitable, instead of the present unjust methods."
The report of the Committee of the Glasgow Corporation, already alluded to, about which there was considerable difference of opinion among the members of the Corporation, but which was subsequently approved of in June, 1895, by a majority of one, was as follows : "The Committee, having considered the remit to them, expressed their approval of the principle of making land values a basis of taxation, and indicate the following as a method by which this principle might be carried out, viz.: - "That each proprietor, when making a statutory return to the assessor under the Lands Valuation Acts, should, in addition to the details at present required, also furnish, in two separate columns, the following additional information "(1) The number of square yards of ground of which he is the proprietor; and Gray, Vol. III. of Min. of Ev., App. No. XXV., par. 11.
Chisholm. Vol. III. of Min. of Ev., App. No. XXIV., Gray, Vol. III. of Min. of Ev., App. No. XXV.
1 See also Report of Committee of the Lanarkshire County Council to the Statutory General Meeting of the Council on 21st December, 1897 (Vol. III. of Min. of Ev., App. No. IV., pp. 172-4).
"(2) The annual value of such ground, calculated at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum upon what he may fix as the price thereof, as between a willing seller and a willing buyer. In the event of the assessor being dissatisfied with the value as so stated, he shall have power to increase the same having regard to the nature and situation of the particular subject - the proprietor to have a right of appeal against the assessor's valuation.
"After the valuation roll is made up, the proprietors shall then be assessed pro rata for all local rates and taxes payable by them upon the said annual value, as ascertained and entered in the valuation roll in manner before indicated, instead of upon the annual rental of the property as at present.