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HE COUNTY RATE BASIS. CONFERENCE AT NEWTOWN. On Tuesday the second conference of the members of the Standing Committee appointed by the County 40onnoil and tne representatives of the Boards of Guardians for the purpose of preparing a standard or basis for county rating and assessment purposes met at the Ponce Court, Newtown. The first con- ference was held in April, and was then adjourned, the conference now met to further consider the pro- posed uniform scale of deductions. There were pre- sent Messrs A. C. Humphreys-Owen, chairman of the County Council, John Jenkins, vice-chairman, Col. B. J. Harrison, Messrs Richard Lloyd, G. Morgan, W. F. Addie, J. Jones, Llanfyllin, W. Scott Owen, David Hamer, C. Morgan, J. Lewis, Wm. Jones, Dd. pavies, John Shuker, David Evans, Machynlleth, "William Cooke, Hugh Lewis, William Theodore, Dd. Eicbards, T. S. Pryce, Martin Woosnam, aud R. O. Perrott; with Messrs G. D. Harrison, clerk, K. Powell, assistant clerk, and G. A. Hutchins, county surveyor. n Dr Edwards, Llanfyllin, chairman of the Con- ference, wrote apologiaing for his absence, and stating that he hoped the question of deduction would be finally settled as the differences were but ll. There was another matter which he did not think was touched upon at the last Conference, and that was that the assessment committee should be Asked to take into their consideration the assessment -of mansions with or without land attached, in order, that there should be a more uniform assessment. It was of no good cloaing their eyes to the tact that some of these were assessed at a ridiculously low jigure, and those things ought to be rectified. Mr A. C. HUMPHRSYS-OWKK was then appointed Chairman. He said that the first question was the Admission ot the Press. It was a matter that by entirely with the members to decide. Mr JENKINS: The Press were admitted upon the Jast occasion. The CHAIRMAN thought there was no objection to their admittance that day. Mr JENKINS then proposed that the Press be ad- mitted, and it was carried. The CHAIRMAN said that the Conference was held consequence of there being 80m!) difference among the unions as to the amount of deductions to bo made. He thought the better plan would be to take sach table separately, and ask the delegates to state the points to which they objected. The CLERK then read the scale ot proposed ae- dactions as arranged by the Council, which were as .follows:-(a) Land with buildings 10 per cent.; (b) land without buildings 2* per cent. (c) cottages with land not exceeding one acre, and rented at X6 and under, 20 per cent; (d) the same, rented above £ 6, 15 per cent; (e) mills, factories, etc., 25 per cent.; (J), woodlands, 2* per cent. (y) sporting, nil; ill) tithes, 4 per cent. It was decided to consider the scale submitted by the Newtown and Llanidloes Union, and then hear the reasons for their objections. The scale was as follows (a) Land with buildings, 15 per cent.; tb) land without buildings, 7i per cent.; (c and d) same 88 County Council scale (e) mills, factories, etc., 20 per cent.; (/) woodlands, nil (g) sporting, nil; (A) tithes: rates and taxes only, and other legal deduc- tions, or in lieu thereof 30 per cent. A further pro. posal was that warehouses, workshops, stables, eto., should have a deduction of 10 per cent. 'I .t .I.LL- 1_- Mr GEOBGE MOROAN presumed inac Tau mw pro- vided for these demands as a set-off against the wear and tear of applianoss and conveniences. The Assessment committee could not arbitrarily fix upon any deductions unless for some special reason. The CHAIBKAN said that in order to arrive at a fair and equal value of property deductions were made in consideration of it* liability to vacancies, liabilities of expense for repairs and so on. 1)0 Conference then proceeded to consider section (a) of the scales submitted by the Newtown and Llanidloes Union, viz, 15 per cent. against 10 per «ent. of the Council scale. Mr C. MORGAN requested to be informed how that section corresponded with the scale ot the ether anions in the county. In reply, the CLKBK said that the Forden scale was 10 per cent., Llanfyllin 10 per cent., andMaohyn- HAth 10 tier cent. Mr JOHN LEWIS, one of the delegates from the Newtown and Llanllwehaiarn Union, then proceeded to give their reasons for the increased deductions. He thought that the other unions had agreed to adopt what was suggested at the previous Conference that was held some time ago. They bad considered the matter and were of opinion that 10 per cent. for land and buildings was too small. At the last sitting of the Conference tie items weie dealt with item by item, and so far as that item was concerned no de. duction was made from the assessment, Their com- mittee thought that it should be altered, and accord. ingly proposed to raise the deduction from 10 to 15 per cent. Since that scale of deductions was fixed, a long time ago, they had experienced some tremen- dous changes, especially in agriculture. A wind and wave of depression «u passing over them, with bad trade and bad seasons, until they had been brought to the present crisis, and yet that industry was still carrying the heaviest end of the oross. He main- tained that the different properties rated had always been unequally yoked together, and he trusted that the Conference would see its way to relievglth chief of all Varmer'would be benefitted, either pro- ductions must go up in price or the burdens must be lightened. Of the former of those he thought that there was not one shadow of hope. Some of the best landowners bad made abatements of 20 per cent., and they felt thankful to them for it, although they had only done their duty, and he may fay only part of their duty, yet they felt exceedingly grateful to them for doing a part of their duty. But 20 per oent. only went halfway, and 50 per cent. would only assist them in tiding over present difficulties. Anjther reason for the proposed increased deduction was that they had now got to compete with the world, and in order to do so it was necessary to have every possible convenience so that the expense of keeping those conveniences in proper order was greater than in former times. Tnose, he concluded, were some of the reasons for the coarse proposed. Mr RICHARD LLOYD: Mr Lewis has given us no reasons at all why they propose that deductions upon houses should be reduced and increased upon land without buildings. Mr J. LEWIS We have not come to that yet; we are dealing with the first section. Mr LLOYD said that he was aware that they had not arrived at that particular section but what were the reasons for the adoption of the oourse pro- posed ? The CH AiRmAiq: Mr Lewis mentioned at the end of his speech that in order to compete with the world the best conveniences were required, and in order to Jeep them in proper repair the cost would be much dearer. Col. HARBISON thought that it would be much better if the gentlemen representing the Newtown Union would give the Conference their opinion upon All the sections eo that they could discuss the whole question at once. Mr GEORGE MORGAN was of opinion that Mr Lewis's speech dealt with matters with which they had nothing to do. The question of taxes had to be dealt with by Parliament, and not by them. He should like to point out that any increase or decrease of deductions could only be made in consequence cf any additional cost of repair or less cost of repair. He was sure that they all thoroughly sympathised with the farmers in their present distress. He did not think that it was competent tor any assessment I committee to attempt by arbitrary means to siy that that section should be dealt with more liberally than another. He felt indignant to think that their friends the farmers, in order to relieve themselves, had attempted to throw the burden upon the ahouiders of other industries. Mr Lewis Then Mr Morgan means to say that an assessmeut committee has no power to rectify wrongs when they see them before their eyes. He asked him to withdraw the word arbitrary." Mr MORGAN said that he thoroughly sympathised with the desire to lighten the burdens of every sec- tion of the community. He had asked at toe begin- ning as to the reasons deductions were allowed, and h did not think that they could make any deductions only in cases where there had been coat of additional repairs. The CHAIRMAN thought that the suggestion made that they should hear the whole case was the right one, and he would ask Mr Lewis to go on and give his reasons for making allowances upon land without buildings. Mr JOHN JENKINsaaked whether thatcourss would not complicate matters very muezi, as they would not know what was clearly before the meeting. The CHAIRMAN said that it was eimply analogous to a second reading, and the committee would take clause by ciaube. Mr JENKINS said they could not vote upon each -question untii the discussion had proceeded upon each tem The CHAIRMAN: I think the proposal is that we should h, ar the whole case before we vote. Mr JENKINS Let each question be exhausted by Argument, uefore we cecide. Let all decisions be post- poned until all Has been said upon the other items. The CHAIRMAN was afraid that if they did so they would qu,to f,,rget -nlbt had been said in the eariy part o, d-ou^i >n. There were only two cour^r open, viz. to take clause by olauae, discuss each, and then decide uv. them, or for the representative- of the N wto wn an,j Lianidioes Uoion to make a g Dera S it-ment and then discuss each j roposal clan e by ^•lause. Mr JOHN JONES thoroughly agreed with the Chairman, and he proposed that they discuss each item separately. Mr RD. LLOYD seconded, and it was carried, Mr JOHN JONES then quoted from the law upon the matter, and after Mr DAVID DAVIES, Dolhafren. had spoken, Mr JOHN SHUKER. said he certainly had some doubts as to whether they could make the deduction: there that day. The proportion of expense to the value had no doubt increased, but notwithstanding that he very much doubted whether the committee cou d reduce more than what was fair to maintain house and buildings at a fair standard. He was afraid if they made a deduction of 15 per cent. that owners of houses, mills, etc., would expect a deduction upon theirs. He had as much sympathy as any man in the room with the farmers, but he could not quite follow the representatives of the Newtown and Llanidloes Union. Mr DAVID HAMER said that if the whole of the county was an agricultural county there would be no dispute; but being a mixed county there was probably a certain amount of injustice. Let them take a farm at X200, and upon that farm a deduction of X20 was made. Now the question arose, was X20 sufficient to maintain that tarm in a state of repair ? He main- tained that it was not. It might be sufficient to keep the buildings in repair, but not sufficient to keep the land and buildings in repair (applause). It was necessary to keep a farm in order to cover the as- surances. What comparison could there be between a farm and the Royal Welsh Warehouse? Yet they allowed the latter .£15 per cent. and the farm only .£10. He thought that they might safely say that there was an inequality. Taking his own business into account, he paid 2s in every pound. Was there any tradesman in Newtown that paid anything like that ? aud he did not hesitate to say that the deduc- tions upon houses were really far less than upon buildings and workshops. Mr JOHN JENKINS said it appeared to him that the rateable value should be that which a landlord would reasonably expect from a tenant who could af- ford to pay a rent for it. He argued that in oonse. quence of the depression iu trade the landlord should make deductions, and thus the rateable value would be lowered and the deductions taken from that. For instance, the landlords for the last two or three years had been remitting 10, 20, and 25 per cent. in the rent. Was not that decrease in rent the actual value of the land ? The state of agriculture in the past had been bad and would no doubt be so in the future, and it was only reasonable to expect that relief should be given compatible with the law and the facts of the ca.;¡Ø to tr e great depression in agricultural stock and in the rtIltl. ,vi. J. HARBISON said that he thought they were getting mixed. He fully agreed with everything that had been said with regard to agriculture, and he wished he could see his way clear to help them, but the present point was one that must be kept clear of that question. There was a oertain sum of money to be found for county pnrposes. It was not to be found from one industry, but from the county at large, and what they had got to do was to see that the money was got as fairly as possible from the dif- ferent interests ot the county. The question was whether those deductions were fair in relation to each interest in the county. He did not think that they had anything to do with landlords or tenants in any shape or form. The money had got to be found, and tuey must see that those demands complied with the Act of Parliament to make the neoessary deductions. There was one argument that Mr Lewis made use of, and that was with reference to the changing circum- stances of the times. The cost of keeping up build- ings had increased, and in consequence of the change of eircumtitanoes it oost more to keep in repair the necessary conveniences and farming appliances. They must also consider the deductions upon the other in- terests in the county, and take the whole thing together. Mr JOHN LEWIS concurred with these statements. Mr W. FORRESTER ADDIB said that he agreed with Mr Lewis that 15 per oent. would be a just allowance. Mr GEO. MORGAN thought Col. Harrison had touched upon the essence of the whole question. All they desired was that the deduotuvp snould be fair for each section of property. Mr Lewis had told them that the Assessment Committee of the Newtown and Llanidloes Union had gone carefully into the matter, and that they considered what they suggested fair. He was rather wondering how those gentlemen who had an efficient knowledge of agriculture oouici say I that in consequence of the changes of the times they were going to increase the taxes upon steam power in the county in order to relieve agriculture (cries of We have not coma to that yet.") He would be I pleased to agree to 15 per cent, upon the agricul- tural industries it they would allow 3u per oent. upon other industries in the county. Mr JNO. JENKINS We cannot make any condition Col. HARRISON really thougnt that they must con- sider the whole of the question together and hear ar- guments upen those different points. He did not see how they could vote until they had heard the whole of the question. He did not think that they should benefit one interest at the expense ot another; they must consider the whole thing together. The CHAIRMAN said that it appeared to him that all they wanted was to arrive at a rough average of the actual profit made out of the farm-whether held by owner or by tenant—which was to go in keeping it 2s £ ssysys* M. in saying that 10 per oent. would hardly be sufficient. and when they allowed 2t per cent. upon land without building, consequently they must understand that only 7 por cent. is allowed to keep up the buildings, and anyone could see that was not right. The requirements of modern farming are very much more than under the old-fashioned farm- ing. There were now iron sheds and those soi t of things, which certainly required a great oeal more care. Again the number ot buildings upoa farms had increased as compared with former days. Therefore he thought that 15 per cent. deduction off land for the puepo8a ot keeping up buildings and conveniences was not an outside figure (near, near). Wages had also gone up, but that likewise applied to manufac- turers. Mr JOHN JONES said that he would like to correct Mr S. Owen in one thing. He did not think that the deduction from land in class a was 7i but it was 10 per cent. But land itseif-tlecammodation land about towl,-was 2t per cent. Mr SCOTT OWEN Therefore that leaves 71 per cent. Mr JOHN JONES: No, no, you must look at each distinctly, so that really it is 10 per cent. upon the whole. Mr GEO MORGAN said that aU that was desired upon the part of anyone was that a fair deduction should be made. He did not use the word "arbi- trary" in an offensive sense. but in the sense that it would certainly be arbitrary for any committee to alter the deductions which were strictly defiued by Act of Parliament on any other ground than on evi- dence 'to be produced, otherwise any section of the community when in the majority might be tempted to 8'titt the burden of taxation without just cause on to the shoulders of the minority. Mr T. S. PRYCE, Welshpool, said that he had been listening to all that had been said, and he knew in the part where he came from the farmers did not spend more than 1 per cent., alone 10 per cent. They would find a good house upon the roai side, but they must not go off the road (laughter). Mr EICHAKD LLOYD having spoken, Mr T. S. PRYCE asked the Chairman to apply the cloture, but the request was not complied with. Coi. HARBISON agreed with Mr Scott Owen that ooly 7; per cant. was allowed for buildings when the other t was ahowed tor land. Tha CHAIRMAN said they could only possibly arrive at a rough average, as it would be impossible to expect each assessment committee to bo going aronad the couutry to value each house and asking for the cost of repairs, etc. Col. HARRISON said that he did not tbink the question could be decided there that day. He thought that it would be advisible that those ngw proposals should be sent to each assessment com- mittee included in the conference, and that the con. ference should be adjourned in order to hear their reports of the different assessment committees, when they could finally decide. The scale of deductions proposed were entirely fresh to all of them, and as the Newtown Union bad proposed that scale he thought it would be very well if the different assess- ment committees in the county should have an oppor- tunity of discussing the point. Mr J. LEWIS said that it that was done he hoped that it would be done very speedily as they intended to m&ke a thorougti new valuation in the union, and they would want that list as soon as possible. Mr GKORGE MORGAN said that it appeared to him that their agricultural friends seemed to be seeking relief for agricultural depression in that matter of deductions (cries of "No, no" I. All that he desired was to make clear to each committee what was right and fair. If one body by a preponderance of votes declared 20 per cent. upon land and buildings and only 10 per cent upon mills, thit did not make it fair or just. Before they altered that scale a claar case should be made out in each interest. He considered the wear and tear upon steam mills very great, and as to insurances they paid about 12 times more than f .rmers. Mr W. THEODORE thought that interests were clashing very much (laughter). Mr C. MORGAN considered Col. Harrison's sugges- tion a very important matter. Mr Lewis said that 10 per ceut. did not cover the cost of repair, and another gentleman said that 1 per cent. was not spent up u the repairs of houses and buildings. 10 face of jvidence such as that be did not think that it was oo upet n for them to decide. He supported Col. iiair.sju's sugsesti.-n, Mr JOHN LEWIS asked to be informed who it waB that made the deduction in the first imstaaee. It was thought that the thing was eternal, and had been fixed by some infallible beirg. He wanted to know who did it in the first instance? The CHAIRMAN It was done by the county assess- ment committee in 1883. Mr JOHN LEWIS asked to be informed who it waB that made the deduction in the first imstaaee. It was thought that the thing was eternal, and had been fixed by some infallible beirg. He wanted to know who did it in the first instance? The CHAIRMAN It was done by the county assess- ment committee in 1883. Col. HARRISON The scale of deductions adopted in 1883 were the scale of deductions accepted from reports made by assessment committees in the differ- ant unions. Mr J. LEWIS: The 10 per cent deductions upon land and buildings has been the same since I was a child, and has remained the same from time immemor- able. Those deductions were the outcome of the work of the assessment committees, and who sat upon the committees he would leave them to con- jecture. The CHAIRMAN: There is now a distinct motion before the Conference, viz., that each assessment committee be furnished with statement of amended scale of deductions proposed by Newtown and Llan- idloes Union, and ask the delegates to attend at a future meeting for further discussion upon the question. Mr T. S. PRYCE did not quite follow that. He wanted the question settled that day. The CHAIRMAN: This Conference has no power whatever. We cannot force any union to adopt such scale, and the only thing to be done is to arrive at a I mutual agreement. The Newtown and Llanidloes Union are strongly opposed to the decision of the other three unions, and it would be useless to go to a vote simply for that reason. Mr DAVID HAMER If this is carried out I hope we shall have a little discussion upon each of the other questions. Mr George Morgan has referred to item (e) at 25 per cent., and I would like to hear what he has got to say. His argument will be conveyed from here to the assessment committee, and unless it is discussed here they will be in the dark. The CHAIRMAN said he would keep the motion in reserve until the other matter was discussed. Mi JOHN LEWIi then proceeded to give their reasons for the raising of section (6) from 2. to 7i per cent. According to the Act of Parliament quoted by Mr John Jones, land was to be kept in a state of market value, and if the lands was to be kept in a state of market value there must be wear and tear upon it. If a tenant neglects his duty upon the farm, and that farm oame into the market, would it let at its market value? He said no—(hear, hearl-and those were some of the reasons why land should be raised from 2i to 7i per cent. The CHAIRMAN: Can you give us some items 01 expense in point? Mr D. HAMER: I think this item refers to grass lands. It is rare indeed tuat arable land is lev without buildings. The expenses of aooomodatioi land is very little and 2* per c-nt. would be ample. If Mr Lewis proves his case with regard to arabit land, of course, I think there is something in whath says, but it is a rare occurrence. Mr JOHN LEWIS said that there was plenty of arable land let in that way. There was laDd oloce to mm without any buildings. The CHAIRMAN: I should like to hear 100\' particulars of the expense attaohed to such &n .rrai gement. Mr JOHN JONES said it appeared to him that the ,ùiy solution of the question and the satisfactory wttlemeijt of the differences would be by the appoint- nent of a commiti.ee of gentlemen, representing the Inrious industries in the county, and they could go into the question thoroughly. Mr Addie said that 15 per oont. was not enough. Very well. But thev vanted proof. He was afraid that they would be anable to decide anything that day, aAl he proposed the appointment of a committee. Mr GEORGE MORGAN seconded the proposition. Col. HAuiciisoN osid that he had not lha slightest ,bjeotion iu withdrawing his resolution as bu only lesire was to endeavour to settle the quoctions. Mr ADDIE supported the amendment most heartiiy And would be most pleased to give evidence before the committed. The motion was then carried and the following committee appointed: Messrs A. C. Humphrey*- Owen, John Jenkins, W. Forrester Addie, George Morgan, John Lewis, Col. Harrison, Messrs J. Shuker, Richard Lloyd, C. Morgan David Hamer, Soott Owen, John Jones, David Evans, and W. Theodore. The conference then rose.