Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Rooker: My Lords, I shall repeat what I said. We have talked about a three-stage review, where we publish progress reports at the end of each stage. I cannot promise any more than that. I believe that I am being wholly reasonable. We will have representatives on a steering group to oversee the way the review is going—with property interests, business interests, and those with town centre management experience. What more can I offer?

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I recognise, as a former Treasury Minister, that, subject to the inevitable Treasury constraints on this sort of matter—we had a brief word about that in Monday's meeting—the noble Lord and his colleague Mr Raynsford have gone probably about as far as they can. I hope that the Minister will recognise that the importance of this matter is all about putting the argument to doubting property owners. With the reinforcement that he has given, and with his putting the name of the Deputy Prime Minister behind it, I hope that the property interests concerned might be prepared to take that as a sufficient guarantee that their interests will be properly safeguarded by the review. In these circumstances it would be churlish to press the matter to a Division, although I came into the House firmly prepared to do just that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 7:



"RELIEF FOR REGISTERED COMMUNITY AMATEUR SPORTS CLUBS
(1) In section 43 of the 1988 Act (occupied hereditaments: liability), in subsection (6) (calculation of chargeable amount where ratepayer is a charity and hereditament is occupied for charitable purposes)—
(a) the words after "on the day concerned" become paragraph (a) of that subsection, and
(b) after that paragraph there is inserted ", or
(b) the ratepayer is a registered club for the purposes of Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 (community amateur sports clubs) and the hereditament is wholly or mainly used—
(i) for the purposes of that club, or
(ii) for the purposes of that club and of other such registered clubs."
(2) In section 45 of the 1988 Act (unoccupied hereditaments: liability), in subsection (6) (calculation of chargeable amount where ratepayer is a charity and hereditament will next be used for charitable purposes)—
(a) the words after "on the day concerned" become paragraph (a) of that subsection, and
(b) after that paragraph there is inserted ", or

10 Sept 2003 : Column 327


(b) the ratepayer is a registered club for the purposes of Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 (community amateur sports clubs) and it appears that when the hereditament is next in use—
(i) it will be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of that club, and that club will be such a registered club, or
(ii) it will be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of two or more clubs including that club, and each of those clubs will be such a registered club."
(3) In section 47(2) of the 1988 Act (first condition for discretionary relief), after paragraph (b) there is inserted—
"(ba) the ratepayer is a registered club for the purposes of Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 (community amateur sports clubs), and the hereditament is not an excepted hereditament and is wholly or mainly used—
(i) for the purposes of that club, or
(ii) for the purposes of that club and of other such registered clubs;".
(4) In section 48 of the 1988 Act (discretionary relief: supplementary), after subsection (2) there is inserted—
"(2A) A hereditament not in use shall be treated as wholly or mainly used for the purposes of a club that is a registered club for the purposes of Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 (community amateur sports clubs) if it appears that when next in use it will be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of a club that is then, or two or more clubs each of which is then, such a registered club."
(5) In section 67 of the 1988 Act (interpretation of Part 3 of that Act), after subsection (10) there is inserted—
"(10A) The times at which a club is a registered club for the purposes of Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 (community amateur sports clubs)—
(a) shall, where it is registered with retrospective effect, be taken to have included those within the period beginning with the date with effect from which it is registered and ending with its registration; but
(b) shall, where its registration is terminated with retrospective effect, be taken not to have included those within the period beginning with the date with effect from which its registration is terminated and ending with the termination of its registration.""

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I can see happy, smiling faces around the Chamber. I wonder why that is.

In Committee, the issue was dealt with by my noble friend Lord Rooker. He congratulated the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, on a brilliant amendment. He also said that that was followed by five brilliant speeches in support. As noble Lords are now well aware, the Government have now tabled our own amendment to that brought forward by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, and the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sheppard of Liverpool, to reflect the all-party support that there appeared to be behind the thrust of those amendments.

I shall speak briefly to the amendments that we are proposing and then say a few words, hoping that I shall do the subject justice. Amendment No. 7 would amend the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and provide mandatory rate relief at both the occupied and unoccupied rates for registered community amateur sports clubs—CASCs—under Schedule 18 to the

10 Sept 2003 : Column 328

Finance Act 2002. Registered CASCs can also have this relief increased at the discretion of local authorities. That means that in many local authorities there will effectively be 100 per cent relief.

Sports clubs that do not meet the requirements for CASC registration and therefore mandatory rate relief will still remain eligible for discretionary relief. The decisions on those matters will rightly be a matter for individual local authorities. This will be good news for CASCs that play a valuable and influential role in promoting the health and social cohesion of their local communities, but have been unable to receive mandatory rate relief because of the complexities of charitable registration. I am sure that registered CASCs will welcome—and have already welcomed—the certainty that mandatory rate relief would provide through this much simpler route.

I am delighted that the Government have taken the initiative here. We deserve credit for recognising the important part that sports clubs play. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, on their role in highlighting and underlining the importance of the matter. I also congratulate and thank my noble friend Lord Pendry. He discovered the important precedent that set us on this course. The move has been welcomed by the chief executive of Sport England. It has been recognised and welcomed by the Central Council for Physical Recreation. I pay tribute to their efforts over the years in arguing that case. I have volumes of correspondence going back over many years when I was leader of a local authority. The authors of that correspondence tried to persuade me to do something about the matter. The Government have acted decisively and great benefit will flow from that.

This morning I talked to the treasurer of St Peter's Cricket Club, a humble organisation which pays some 1,200 a year in rates to Brighton and Hove Council. Next year the 1,000 that it will save will be invested in its pavilion. I hope that that is replicated across the country. Derek Betts, the club's treasurer, a very careful man, tells me that the 1,000 will bring enormous benefit and enable the club to expand and extend its "colts" activity, from which my son benefits. If replicated country-wide, that kind of activity would be of enormous benefit. Credit is due to all those involved in the matter. I thank all those who argued the case for the measure. On this occasion we ought also to thank the Treasury for its magnanimity. I beg to move.

5 p.m.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, this is a red letter day for amateur sport in this country, not just because many millions of pounds will be retained by clubs such as St Peter's Cricket Club, Hove, as the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, indicated, but, much more importantly, because it will encourage tens of thousands of amateur sports clubs to register as CASCs.

It is worth reminding the House that this has been a four-year campaign and that this is the crowning of it. The first and crucial achievement occurred in the

10 Sept 2003 : Column 329

Finance Act 2002 when, for the first time ever, a new category of body was created—community amateur sports clubs—with exemptions from tax closely akin to those of charities. As we know, the one thing that was left out was mandatory 80 per cent rating relief. The amendment is not merely beneficial in itself—the measure will, of course, go on from year to year—but it will also unlock the uncertainty and scepticism that have, as I say, held back tens of thousands of small clubs from registering. I believe we all agree that amateur sport is not only one of the crowning cultural achievements of this country but is perhaps a greater source of local and communal pleasure than anything else.

I, too, give unstinted thanks to the noble Lords, Lord Bassam and Lord Rooker. The amendment has no enemies and at previous stages of the Bill they dealt with the matter extremely adeptly. I thank the civil servants who were involved in the matter. We have had an extremely fair and constructive hearing from the DCMS and, latterly, the Treasury. I thank the Treasury. As has been said, it had to agree to the measure and it must safeguard the public purse. I thank all noble Lords in this House, not a single one of whom has been anything but supportive of the measure. Finally—in many ways this is the most important thanks to give—I thank the sports fraternity, led, as the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, said, by CCPR. I should like to mention Nigel Hook. All in all, this is a great day and, what is more, it is a better amendment than mine because it deals with the extra 20 per cent above the 80 per cent mandatory relief and makes clear that CASCs will be entitled to the extra 20 per cent. I shall not move my amendment when we reach it. I vent a small cheer and give considerable thanks.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page