I move amendment No. 18a:
In page 13, subsection (1) (a) (i), line 7, to delete "lesser" and substitute "greater".
In this section we are dealing with agricultural property comprised in the taxable wealth of an individual, who is a farmer, or fishing boats comprised in the taxable wealth of an individual, or hotel premises as defined in the section as comprising taxable wealth of an individual. In subsection (1) there is a provision that in ascertaining the market value of property of this kind one of the steps in approaching it is to deduct from the market value of the property an amount equal to 50 per cent of the market value of the property or a sum of £100,000, whichever is the lesser. This amendment is designed to substitute "greater" for "lesser"; in other words, to deduct a sum of £100,000 or 50 per cent, whichever is the greater.
I want to suggest to the Minister that if he wants to put the properties of the kind dealt with in this part of the section I have outlined in a special category such as hotels, and so on, he should do the job right. The position, particularly in relation to hotels at the moment, could fairly be described as being one in which a valuation of hotel buildings and contents could very well figure in many cases much higher than their value as a hotel viewed from the point of view of a potential purchaser of the premises and contents as a hotel, if there was any such purchaser. He would have to take account of losses in the hotel industry at the moment and the considerable risk of loss, and could very well, therefore, in taking this into account in putting forward an offer for the premises as a hotel, come up with a realistic figure which would be considerably less than the valuation which would be put on the premises and contents taken in their own right.
I want to suggest to the Minister that this being the situation, the valuation arrived at under this section in the case of such hotels would turn out to be far too high in some cases and that it is not the way to go about the kind of relief that the Minister is seeking to give in this section, unless, of course, he wanted to drive hoteliers out of business altogether.
In considering this, it is important to note also that there is a restriction provided on the amount of debts which may be deducted. There are many hotels—this applies to the other properties mentioned, but particularly to hotels—which represent very heavy investment at this time at very considerable risk. That being so, I am suggesting that the effect of this amendment would be to give a more realistic relief in such cases than is given by the subsection as drafted.