I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
The purpose of this short Bill is the continuation of the legislation which provides for relief of rates on agricultural land by way of the agricultural grant; existing legislation is due to expire on 31st December 1974. This grant is paid by the Exchequer to county councils to enable them to give abatement of rates to occupiers of agricultural land. In the coming financial year more than £30 million will be paid over from the Echequer to county councils by means of the agricultural grant to reduce the rates burden on the agricultural community.
The effect of the Bill is to provide for the continued payment of the agricultural grant on its present basis for the year ending 31st December, 1975, thereby providing for the continuation of the existing allowances. In the case of land holdings the valuation of which does not exceed £20 the primary allowance relieves 100 per cent of the general rate; this allowance effectively derates 77 per cent of all rated holdings of agricultural land. In the case of holdings between £20 and £33 valuation the primary allowance relieves 100 per cent of the rates on the first £20 of the land valuation and the rated occupier is liable for rates on the remainder only. Land holdings with valuations in excess of £33 qualify for a primary allowance of 80 per cent in respect of £20 valuation and a supplementary allowance of 30 per cent on the remainder of the valuation. In addition to the aforementioned allowances, an employment allowance of £17 per workman is available, in appropriate cases, towards the relief of the net rates payable after deduction of the primary and supplementary allowances on holdings with land valuations over £20.
I commend the Bill to the House.