A "Lands Valuation Bill" for Scotland was introduced into the House of Commons by Mr. M'Crae, M.P., in 1903. The Bill only dealt with unoccupied land in Burghs, and did not propose a special rate upon site values generally. It intended to provide that where it was in the power of the proprietor of land not built upon, to let such land for building purposes, the annual value on which the rates were to be levied should be the full duty or rent which might be obtained for the land, if so let, and not merely its value, rebus sic stantibus, as under the existing law. The value was not, however, to be less than the rent for which the land was bond fide let at the time, and power was given to the tenant or occupier to deduct from his rent the occupier's rates upon the value, if any, in excess of the rent. The additional burden involved by the proposal was, therefore, thrown entirely upon the owner. The Bill was not to apply to public pleasure grounds, school playgrounds, or cemeteries. It was not proceeded with after the First Reading.
This Bill was re-introduced by Mr. M'Crae in 1904, and read the first time.
In 1904 there was also brought in a Bill, entitled the "Land Values Taxation (Scotland) Bill." It was presented by Mr. Caldwell, M.P., and proposed to give power to the Town Council of every Burgh to levy an assessment not exceeding 2s. in the £ upon the annual value of all land in the Burgh. The annual value was to be calculated at 4 per cent. upon the price as between a willing seller and a willing buyer, exclusive of all buildings, etc., on or connected with the ground. Proprietors were required to furnish returns showing the extent of the ground, and the value so estimated, but the Assessor was not bound by the proprietor's estimate. The rate was to be charged upon owners, who were given a right of deduction in respect of any ground burdens (including feudal casualties) payable to their superiors, irrespective of existing contracts. Various institutions of a public or semi-public character were excluded from the provisions of the Bill, and the proceeds of the rate were to be allocated pro rata to the several accounts in respect of which police and Municipal assessments were levied. The Bill was not proceeded with after the First Reading.
The Bill of 1904 was re-introduced by Mr. Ainsworth, M.P., in 1905, and again by Mr. Sutherland, M.P., in 1906. The Bill of 1905 passed its Second Reading by a majority of 20 in a House of 266. The Second Reading of the Bill of 1906 was passed, in the newlyelected House, by a majority of 258, the members voting numbering 380, and on April 24th it was committed to a Select Committee.
On May 3rd the following members were nominated for the Select Committee: Mr. Hugh Barrie, Mr. A. Dewar, Mr. Findlay, Mr. J. Henderson, Mr. M'Killop, Mr. Mitchell-Thomson, Mr. O'Hare, Mr. Remnant, Mr. T. F. Richards, Mr. Sutherland, Mr. Trevelyan, Mr. A. Ure, Mr. Dundas White, Mr. Wood and Mr. Younger.
In 1905 another Bill, entitled the "Land Values Assessment (Scotland) Bill," was presented to the House of Commons by Mr. Munro Ferguson, M.P. By this Bill the land value was to be estimated upon the same principles as under the Bill introduced in 1904-5-6, viz., at 4 per cent. upon the selling price, but no special rate was suggested. Where, however, the land value exceeded the yearly value entered in the valuation roll, which, it is explained in the Memorandum attached to the Bill, may happen where land ripe for building is left lying idle, or where very poor buildings are allowed to stand on valuable sites, all rates were to be levied upon the land value, and, in the case of unoccupied property, the rates chargeable upon occupiers were to be levied from the person entitled to possession, though upon the basis of the land value only if the property comprised both land and buildings. Power was also given to occupiers to deduct from their rent so much of the rates paid by them as corresponded to the land value at the commencement of the tenancy, but this provision only applied to future contracts. The Bill was to be operative in both Counties and Burghs. It was not proceeded with after the First Reading.
Bradbury, Agnew, & Co. Ld., London And Tonbridge.