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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I listened with great interest to what noble Lords said. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, on his impromptu assumption of the role of Treasury spokesman for the Liberal Democrat Party. By reminding us of his party's promises at the previous election he has laid himself open to rebuttals. It is true that his party said that there should be an increase in the rate of income tax for better-off people. But he may or may not remember that at the same time his party indicated that there would be increased expenditure on schools, hospitals and public investment generally using the benefit of those higher rates of income tax.
What he may not have recognised, although I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Newby, has been keeping in touch on a day-to-day basis, is that our actual improvements in expenditure in public investment have been far higher than those promised by the Liberal Democrat Party in its manifesto at the previous election, despite the fact that we have not increased rates of income tax.
Lord Newby: My Lords, first, I apologise to the House for being slightly delayed. Had the Liberal Democrats been able to implement their policy after the previous election and raised the additional income from increased taxation during the first two years of the Parliament it would have been possible to increase expenditure on health and education in years one and two, which this Government found themselves unable to do, and we would still have had the benefits of growth to put more expenditure into those subjects in years three and four. I therefore believe that his example of our tax policy is at best partial.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am very interested to see how that works out in the manifesto of the Liberal Democrat Party. We shall see what kinds of promises it makes on taxation and spending.
I am rather more interested in the comment of the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, that our tax policy is regressive rather than progressive and that more of the improvements in the economy, which I believe he acknowledged, should have been based on income tax rather than other taxation. I believe that when the
Every child should have the best possible start in life and that is why we have concentrated on ending child poverty. The changes in the Budget, plus the children's tax credit and the extra £10 a week in the year in which a child is born, will help to lift 170,000 children out of poverty. During this Parliament the reforms we have made will lift a total of 1.2 million children out of poverty and will mean that the average household with children is £1,000 a year better off.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, does the Minister accept that, while undoubtedly growth has had the effect of increasing the incomes of lower earners, as a group those on the lower deciles of the scale pay a higher proportion of the total tax burden than previously?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, we must take into account not only the tax system but the credit system and the net effect on those with lower incomes. I believe that the figures that I have given are incontrovertible. If one takes that wider view, there can be no doubt that the answer to the charge that taxation policy has been regressive is to be found in the figures that I have given. If one looks at the net results of the Government's taxation and benefit policy over the past four years, there can be no doubt that those in our society who were worse off are now substantially better off. That deliberate policy has been successfully pursued by the Chancellor over the four-year period.
The noble Lord went on to make a point, which is always made on these occasions, about the complexity of the Finance Bill. I acknowledge that this is a complex Finance Bill. It is not as long as some others. The Bill has been produced rather more rapidly than some others, for reasons that are well known and are common to all governments that announce elections before the end of a full five-year term. In those circumstances, it has been necessary to programme the Bill in another place.
We have continued to rely on the constitutional conventions regarding the role of this House in taxation which go back much further than the Parliament Act 1911. Those conventions go back even further than the resolutions of the House of Commons in 1670s; they date virtually from a medieval division of powers, and long may that continue. It is entirely right that a largely unelected Chamber should have no power of taxation.
The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, raises a legitimate point about complexity, but unless he is prepared to say which parts of the complex Finance Bill he is willing to sacrifice it is not easy to support him in his aim. The most serious charge levelled against the Bill in another place this week was that it was intensely boring. If possible, all Finance Bills should be boring rather than threatening.
I was interested in the exchange between the noble Lords, Lord Marlesford and Lord Lawson. However, the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, would be the last person to expect me to anticipate the Labour Party's manifesto. Fortunately, the Conservative Party's manifesto became available this morning. But both noble Lords will have to consume their souls in patience until they see what commitments are made.
I was particularly interested in the observations of the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, about the aggregates levy in relation to scrutiny by the House of Lords. I am not quite sure how the House of Lords can exercise greater scrutiny, or show greater expertise, unless he believes that a very significant number of Members of your Lordships' House own quarries. I am not certain that that is a particularly good qualification for considering the aggregates levy. This is part of our multi-faceted approach to environmental sustainability, and it is proper that the elected Chamber should consider it and make decisions upon it.
I turn to the claim of the noble Earl about soundbite mantras. I referred earlier to the longest period of sustained low inflation since the 1960s; the stability of interest rates and their lowest level for 35 years; the highest level of business investment in 40 years; the lowest unemployment level since the 1970s, with youth unemployment cut by 80 per cent and more people in work than ever before. They might be soundbites, or even mantras, but they are a fairly effective justification for the economic policies of this Government. The final expression of those policies in this Parliament is the Finance Bill which I commend to the House.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The Rural White Paper Our Countryside: the future, which we published last November, sets out the Government's comprehensive strategy for rural communities and the countryside. We have already pushed ahead with many of the initiatives and measures in the White Paper.
The Bill contains two important measures that are part of implementing our strategy: first, to assist farm diversification; and, secondly, to help maintain village services. These are now all the more important, as they will also help with the longer term effects of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
The Prime Minister launched the Action Plan for Farming on 30th March last year. That promised measures to help farmers diversify into non-agricultural businesses as a way of supporting or supplementing their agricultural activities. One way of doing that is through relief from business rates.
Last August we consulted on rate relief for farmers who diversified into horse enterprises. The response to that consultation made clear that there was a far wider range of potential diversification businesses. We therefore consulted again last November on proposals for rate relief for all types of farm diversification. These would have limited rate relief to farmers for newly established enterprises. We listened to the response to that consultation. The Bill reflects the resulting changes to the proposal. It will provide rate relief to all small properties which were previously in agricultural use, whoever occupies them, whether it be a farmer owner-occupier, a tenant farmer, or a third party.
The Bill introduces a rate relief scheme for new, small-scale farm diversification enterprises. It allows rate relief to all small properties occupied by any enterprise which is newly established in former agricultural premises. That includes those run by tenant farmers and those where the farmer lets or sells the property to a third party. Farms are already fully exempt from non-domestic rates. But as soon as any part of a farm is used for anything other than agriculture, it becomes liable for rates. For example, when a barn is converted to a shop or to livery stables it becomes rateable.
These types of activity can provide a useful supplement to a farmer's income. But the costs of using part of their farm in that way are increased by the additional rates bill on property that was previously rate free. That is seen as a major disincentive to diversification. To help farmers establish new
Relief would be on similar terms to that which already applies for village shops. There would be a 50 per cent mandatory relief and local authorities would have the discretion to increase that to 100 per cent. It would be limited to properties below a certain rateable value, set by order, which we intend to set initially at £6,000. It would be reviewed at subsequent national revaluations to ensure that it keeps in line with any general changes in rateable values. For a property of the maximum size, 50 per cent relief would be worth £1,290 in this financial year and 100 per cent relief would be worth £2,580.
The scheme would be available initially for five years. It would then be reviewed and extended if necessary. The review would need to take into account the possible availability of rate relief to all small businesses, as proposed in the Green Paper on local government issued last year.
If the farm diversification scheme is extended, relief would only be available to any individual property for a maximum of five years from when it first received the relief. That is because the relief is intended to help farmers establish new diversification businesses, rather than provide long-term subsidy.
A rating concession is already given to stud farms that are on agricultural land. These currently receive a flat-rate reduction in their rateable value of £2,500, which is worth £1,075 in this financial year for all stud farms. For the smallest stud farms it amounts to a complete exemption from rates. Because of that existing concession, which is not time limited, new stud farms that qualify for it would not also receive the new farm diversification relief. However, when the farm diversification relief comes into effect we will raise the stud farms concession to a £3,000 reduction in rateable value. That would be worth £1,290 in 2001-2002, which is the same as the maximum mandatory relief under the farm diversification scheme. For most stud farms it would therefore be worth more than the mandatory farm diversification relief.
For those with gross rateable values below £6,000, the £1,290 stud farms concession would be more than 50 per cent of their rates bill. It would be worth the same to those with gross rateable values of exactly £6,000. It would also be available to stud farms with higher rateable values, which would not be eligible for the farm diversification relief. Similarly, it would apply to existing stud farms, including those established in premises that were not previously agricultural, which would not qualify for the farm diversification relief. Stud farms that would otherwise qualify for the farm diversification relief would be eligible for the discretionary element of the new scheme. That means that local authorities would be able to top-up relief to 100 per cent, on top of the stud farms' concession for that five-year period.
I now move on to the mandatory relief for village food shops. In 1998 we implemented the village shop rate relief scheme. That provides 50 per cent mandatory rate relief to the sole small general store and post office in designated villages with a population below 3,000. Local authorities can give discretionary relief up to 100 per cent to these and any other small businesses in such villages. The scheme is intended to provide support to essential services in isolated rural communities. We want villages to be active living communities where people are also able to meet their essential needs. The most basic community service for most rural communities is the local shop. We want to retain shops in small communities offering a wider range of products and services.
The Green Paper on local government finance published last September suggested extending the mandatory rate relief to other food shops, pubs and petrol stations. We have already implemented the extension of mandatory rate relief to the sole small pub or petrol station in small villages, through secondary legislation. That took effect on 5th April 2001. The Bill would do the same for all small food shops in those villages.
At the moment, where there is one general store selling food it gets mandatory rate relief. But where there are two--for example a grocer and a butcher--neither gets mandatory relief. Some local authorities already give discretionary relief in such cases. But the Bill would ensure that all food shops get mandatory relief in those villages. Primary legislation is needed because the current legislation specifically limits mandatory relief to the sole general store selling mainly food and household goods. That cannot be overridden by orders made under the power used to extend the relief to pubs and petrol stations.
Mandatory relief would be extended to shops that mainly sell food for human consumption, as these are all equally essential to the community. Separate butchers, bakers and grocers provide the same service to a village as a general store that provides a wider range of foods. Shops that sell other goods or services, subsidiary to their food sales, would also be eligible for the mandatory relief. But it would not extend to shops which are, for example, mainly confectioners, tea-rooms, restaurants or takeaways. These catering businesses do not provide the same essential community service as shops that provide basic foodstuffs. However, shops that sell basic foodstuffs but also provide hot food or confectionery would still get the relief, provided that those catering and confectionery activities accounted for less than half of their trade.
Relief would be given on the same terms as that for sole general stores and post offices, limited to properties with a rateable value of less than £6,000. Again, local authorities would have the discretion to top up the 50 per cent mandatory relief to provide 100 per cent relief where needed. They would also retain the discretion to give relief to any business in a designated village with a rateable value up to £12,000 if it is of benefit to the local community, including those providing mainly catering or confectionery.
The Bill amends the main rating legislation, the Local Government Finance Act 1988. Therefore, it extends to England and Wales. The new order-making powers would be exercisable in Wales by the National Assembly, including setting rateable value thresholds, and commencement and possible extension of the farm diversification scheme.
The two measures in the Bill would provide welcome financial assistance to small rural businesses; they would help reduce costs for farmers who wish to diversify; and would provide more rate relief to village food shops. This further support to rural businesses takes forward the policies set out in the Action Plan for Farming and the Rural White Paper. It would be even more welcome to help with the long-term recovery in those areas from the current foot and mouth outbreak. I commend the Bill to the House.
Baroness Byford: My Lords, I rise to give support to the measures proposed in the Bill before us today. I would also add that these measures were first called for some three years ago by my honourable friend Jim Paice. That is recorded at col. 1172 of Hansard of another place of 21st May 1998. It is a great pity that it has taken three years of deep declines in farm incomes and the outbreak of foot and mouth to stir the Government into action. At this stage, I should remind the House of my family's farming interest, which is entered in the House's register of interests.
We have seen the incomes of farmers fall dramatically. Deloitte & Touche published an analysis of farm incomes last October, before the foot and mouth outbreak. It showed that the average sized farm of some 500 acres, which earned £80,000 in the mid-1990s earned only some £8,000 in 2000. That same sized farm is estimated to make a loss of some £4,000 in 2001. Consequential to that loss are the jobs of some 47,000 farmers and farm workers, who have left the industry over the past two years. Agriculture's contribution to the nation is now down to just 0.80 per cent. It was 1.6 per cent just five years earlier. Its contribution has halved thanks to many of the Government's policies.
The Bill will give statutory rate relief of 50 per cent on rates levied on former agricultural buildings with a rateable value of £6,000 or less that are to be used for non-agricultural enterprises. The limit of £6,000 on rateable values contrasts with the definition of small business in the Green Paper on local government finance as one which occupies space with a rateable value of £8,000 or less. It contrasts even less favourably with that offer of hardship rate relief to businesses in rural areas targeted at businesses with a rateable value below £12,000 announced by the noble Lord on 23rd April this year. Will the Minister comment on the level of diversification that the Government expect to achieve by using a £6,000 limit?
Will the Minister explain why a fiscal limit on rateable value is preferred to a limit on an area of premises involved? The latter--the area of premises--would surely be a fairer way to view the differences of rateable values across the country. One has only to look at the difference between schools to know that the value varies enormously even within a county. Will the Minister confirm that the limit of £6,000 will apply to buildings being used and will ignore common access, parking, shared toilets or secretarial facilities that might be possible on that land? Will the Minister clarify whether the relief will be restricted to a single business over five years? For example, what will happen if one company which starts in year one either fails or moves away in year three and the building falls vacant?
I understand from the Explanatory Notes that it is for the local authority to decide which of its communities located in a designated rural area meets the qualifying criteria and to place them on the rural settlement list. The rural areas themselves are designated centrally by government. Will the Minister clarify how many rural areas are so currently designated and whether a local authority can request an additional area to be included? My understanding is that there is no legislative definition of a designated rural area. Perhaps the Minister would like to comment on that.
I further understand that the department decrees that rural areas must be a given distance away from built-up areas and that they are physically separated from them. Will that disadvantage farmers whose buildings are closer perhaps to an edge of a town or a larger village? Will it be possible for one part of a farm to be classified as rural while the part containing the buildings for diversification might not be so?
Much debate took place in another place on the question of equestrian businesses that are currently worth some £2.5 billion to the nation. My honourable friends Owen Paterson and James Gray argued at great length during the proceedings of the Bill about the anomalies within the "horse world". I wonder whether the Government have had second thoughts about the additional variations to the Bill in favouring new businesses against those that are already established. Many of the already established businesses are going through difficult times. Those existing businesses have been devastated by the restrictions that the foot and mouth outbreak has
I turn to Clause 3 of the Bill, which refers specifically to village shops. I should again declare an interest as Patron of VIRSA, an organisation which helps to promote and encourage shops. Clause 3 deals with rate relief for rural food shops. While this inclusion is welcome, I am concerned that the Government have not taken fully on board the dire circumstances in which many shops presently find themselves. The incomes of many in an infected foot and mouth area have virtually dried up completely. Even now, when fewer daily outbreaks of the disease are being reported, some of those shops are still experiencing a lack of visitors. The Government have made welcome additional announcements of financial help. But I have to say to the noble Lord that many organisations and individuals have been in contact with me. They feel that some of these moves, while welcome, are totally inadequate to deal with the situation.
We on these Benches welcome and support the Bill. It is more than necessary, particularly at this time. However, bearing in mind our contracted discussion today, I should be grateful if the Minister could respond to my questions before we move on to consider amendments in Committee.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, we on these Benches welcome the Bill and believe that it demonstrates a move in the right direction. The noble Baroness, Lady Byford, pointed out that her honourable friend had called for these measures some time ago. I must tell the House that Liberal Democrat local authorities up and down the country have been implementing all the discretion they have at their disposal as regards offering rate relief to rural businesses. They, too, will welcome this extension of relief to support the struggle to maintain the kinds of services that we all agree are necessary.
I shall deal first with the agricultural part of the Bill, on which I should like to raise two points with the Minister. First, why have the Government found it necessary to repeat what I believe to be a mistake when addressing farm enterprises; that is, to continue with the practice of designating rural areas? Wherever it is situated, a farm may need to diversify. It could be on the edge of a town or even in a semi-urban area, but that makes little difference to the farming process. Continuing with the designation of rural areas simply adds to the red tape and difficulty of implementing this Bill. I believe that it would have been better if all farm enterprises had been able to qualify.
I hope that the Minister will be able to comment on why it was felt necessary to continue with the practice of designation, which I believe is merely a hangover from previous years. Indeed I, too, shall be interested in his reply to the question put to him by the noble
Secondly, I wish to question how firmly in reality are the provisions of this Bill based. Certainly if it was not being introduced at the end of this Session, the Liberal Democrats would have proposed a large number of amendments to it. The fact that we have not done so indicates that we shall welcome its inclusion in the statute book, but I do not believe that it recognises the reality of life in rural areas today. The Bill is too prescriptive as regards what diversification may mean for farms and ignores the reality of village life. Perhaps I may explain exactly what I mean by that statement.
The Bill attempts to define which enterprises can be helped within a village by suggesting that such enterprises should provide essential village services and that their turnover in food should comprise more than 50 per cent. However, it is a fact that nowadays one might find that an Internet cafe had been established. Its main turnover would not be in catering, through supplying coffee, cakes and so forth to those coming into the cafe to use the essential service of Internet access. I understand that, under the terms of the Bill, such a business would not qualify for any relief because more than 50 per cent of its income derives from the catering element. However, all of the other facilities available to the people living in that village may have closed down. Such a circumstance clearly does not recognise the way in which village life is developing.
For example, if a shop sells those goods which it is essential to purchase fresh each day, such as bread and vegetables, it should be recognised that those goods have quite a low value. Their turnover value may well be low but, again, it could be that the specialist cafe element of the enterprise attracts people to the premises. The cafe part would provide the highest turnover for the business as a whole, but would nevertheless support the fresh food outlet for the village. Again, such an enterprise would not qualify. I hope that the Minister will be able to explain the Government's thinking behind these provisions.
Some debate has concerned the position of third parties if they rent out farm buildings. Would such parties qualify for relief under this scheme? Can the Minister assure the House that they will do so, because if a farmer is seeking to diversify by renting out farm buildings at the attractive rate that inclusion under the terms of this Bill could offer, that would provide a powerful incentive to those considering renting such buildings?
I shall turn now to the matter of the five-year limit. This is most unfortunate and appears to have been applied in a very impractical way. For those businesses which have been affected by the foot and mouth crisis, it may well be that only in two or three years from now will they be able to think about diversification. They will then be eligible for only two or three years of relief. If they cannot establish themselves for four years, they will receive relief for merely one year. That is not as helpful as the Government would like to think.
I understand that the Government have stated that it may be possible to extend the provisions of the Bill, but we on these Benches would prefer to see this as a "holding" measure until a proper local government finance Bill can be introduced. Such a Bill would return control of the uniform business rate to local authorities. Then we would not have to discuss which services were essential for a village because the village would be able to decide for itself and make the appropriate representations to the local authority. The authority would then be able to consider the case. While governments continue to deny local authorities the proper discretion required as regards the level of local business rates, we shall continue to need to consider complicated Bills of the kind before the House today. That is merely trying to make the best of a difficult job. We would like to look forward to the time when the uniform business rate is returned to local authority control.
Finally, I should like to make two further points. First, can the Minister explain what will be the definition of micro and small businesses when considering the threshold for this relief? Between the DTI and the DETR there appear to be several different definitions of what constitutes a small business and whether such enterprises should be eligible for relief.
Secondly, I echo the point made from the Conservative Benches as regards the importance of the equestrian community and its significant contribution to rural areas. Undoubtedly the Bill takes a small step towards helping such enterprises, in particular those concerns which have diversified into other areas. However, once again, such assistance does not go far enough.
The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, I declare again my interest as a trustee of a small property in Scotland which has farming interests. Having more freedom than the two Baronesses who have just spoken, I do not give the Bill such a warm welcome. However, the noble Lord will be delighted to hear that I do give it a guarded welcome and that is better than has been possible for some of the government legislation that has come before us of late.
My noble friend Lady Byford reminded the House that, under this Government, agriculture and the countryside have been facing increasing difficulties. They fell into deep trouble as soon as Labour came to power. Furthermore, as the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will know, since the Prime Minister began to take an interest in the subject and appeared on the scene, the situation has only become worse. The real added value generated within this sector in the year 2000 was 1.7 per cent below that generated in 1997. That is a pretty severe indictment, given that other industries have generated on the plus side. Only agriculture and forestry have performed worse over the period. My noble friend Lady Byford also reminded the House that farm incomes have plummeted, while the rate of clearance of farmers and farm workers from the land is accelerating.
All this happened before we were hit by the dreaded outbreak of foot and mouth disease. On the Friday following the Easter weekend, I drove from Moffat down through the Lake District, which had been terrific stock country. Over a distance of 60 miles, I saw precisely 20 fields of sheep on either side of the motorway. As soon as I came out of the foot and mouth affected area, I saw 20 fields of sheep over a distance of one-and-a-half miles. That is the scale of the desolation in certain parts of the country. Farmers in those areas have to face that on top of the already bad situation.
There is no simple way of knowing the scale of farm diversification, let alone the income that is derived from it. Opportunities will vary from area to area. In some areas there will be far too much diversification; in others there will not be enough. That is because the Bill, as the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, said, is far too prescriptive; it does not allow villages and agricultural areas to decide what is best for them. That would be wrong so far as the Government are concerned. Communities are being told that if they fall within a designated area they can have help--but that help may be needed in an area that is not designated. That will lead to further difficulties and resentment within the countryside and the farming communities.
Without question, parts of the Bill are complete nonsense and need careful scrutiny and discussion, but we are prohibited from doing that. I will highlight at Committee stage one particular area of concern which exemplifies the stupidity of some of the Government's proposals.
I should like to ask the Minister about town and country planning issues, where I anticipate major difficulties will arise. It is a basic principle that we prevent isolated developments away from centres of population unless they are for agricultural or forestry use. Many farmers are meeting resistance to diversification schemes from local authorities even though there has been a relaxation. The Government's proposed further relaxation can lead only to more difficulties in the future. Can the Government offer any further advice to local authorities on how they should handle these very difficult and sensitive issues?
I remember trying to encourage farm diversification when I was a Minister. Although one tried to help with one hand--as the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will fully understand--the next people through the door were the preservationists, who wanted no change at all within the countryside. But the countryside is a living environment of people and animals and it must adapt. Parts of the Bill will help it to do so.
Finally, on a general point, I hope that the Minister agrees that farmers are the key to the future of the countryside. I hope that the Government will undertake a wide-ranging review of how the countryside will work in the future--particularly after the devastation of certain areas by foot and mouth disease. I repeat the call that I have made on more than one occasion to the Minister of Agriculture that there should be a Royal Commission to look into this issue,
Lord Whitty: My Lords, there have been varying degrees of warmth of support for the Bill from noble Lords who have spoken. The Bill will be welcome in many parts of the country and will make a contribution towards resolving some of the wider questions which have been addressed today in terms of agricultural decline and the problems of rural areas, particularly those afflicted by foot and mouth disease.
The Bill is a limited but very important piece of legislation for breathing life into enterprises within the countryside. The introduction of the new rate relief will help both farmers and village communities. The Bill's proposals follow through some of the commitments that we made in our rural policy White Paper and action for farmers.
However, some of the issues raised today are not dealt with in the Bill. I do not therefore intend to reply in detail on wider issues of agricultural policy, local government finance or the planning system as a whole. The Bill needs to be taken for what it is and I shall confine my response to issues which form specific parts of the Bill.
The noble Baroness, Lady Byford, raised the issue of the threshold and asked a number of other questions in relation to that. She asked why the threshold was £6,000 in this context whereas in the context of support for other small businesses the threshold is £8,000. I should point out, however, that that support is tapered above the £6,000 level in the context to which the noble Baroness referred. There obviously has to be a cut-off point. The figure of £6,000 is the cut-off point of mandatory 100 per cent relief. However, contrary to what has been implied by some noble Lords, particularly the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, local authorities have a further discretion over and above this figure to provide rate relief up to £12,000 rateable value, 75 per cent of which will be refunded from central funds. There is therefore more flexibility and more scope for local discretion than has been implied today.
The noble Baroness asked whether the £6,000 threshold includes common assets. The answer is perhaps not entirely satisfactory: it depends upon the property. The rateable value of £6,000 will relate to the unit of property; whatever is covered in the rateable assessment will be included. If there is a supportive service in a separate rateable property, that will not have undergone the same change of use. Obviously how that applies from case to case will depend upon the layout of the buildings on which the rateable value will have been assessed.
The noble Baroness also asked about what would happen if a business changed hands after diversification. Rate relief will be given for five years per property for as long as the scheme lasts. I shall come back to the scheme in a moment. If it is granted for five years, when the business changes hands it will continue to enjoy the rate relief for that period.
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