Lord Greaves on rate free toilets, not to be confused with ice cream parlours

Reading Hansard is rarely gripping. But Newsmoggie did spot the intervention of Tony Greaves in a House of Lords debate of public toilets on Wednesday. The essence of his argument that facilities for peeing should not be subject to business rates. As the Lib Dems favourite moggie, I just use my neighbour’s garden. But why are the essential the essential functions of humanity taxed? Lord Greaves picks up the story in the Lords in his characteristic lively style. His argument was that Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill should be totally clear about when public loos must pay business rates.

“I am therefore trying, in an attempt to be really helpful to the Government, which I always attempt to do in legislation because if we get good legislation it is clear what it means and it is workable, to put into the Bill the wording in the Local Government Finance Act, which in Committee the Minister said applied to this Bill, which is to say that it is not, as this Bill states at the moment ‘consists wholly or mainly of’ but ‘is used wholly or mainly’ for public lavatory purposes.”

So that is clear then.

Replying for the government, Lord Greenhalgh said:

“When determining whether to award the relief, local authorities should be able to apply a degree of common sense and ask the essential question: Does it look like a public lavatory?”

Not to be outdone, Tony Greaves threw an ice cream parlour into the mix:

“The Minister said that the physical characteristics of public lavatories are very clear and do not change – but their uses do change. We once had a planning application for turning a public lavatory into an ice cream parlour, but I do not think that that succeeded. I think that, had they tried to sell ice cream from it, people would not have thought that it was still a public lavatory.”

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6 Comments

  • John Marriott 20th Mar '21 - 10:04am

    Surely they could always pass a Motion and see what happens!

  • Not to mention the Relief that could be awarded.

  • John Marriott 21st Mar '21 - 10:25am

    Can’t ANYBODY see the jokes inherent in this report? Or is it just me being puerile?

  • A white paper ?

    More to the point a motion to get rid of the 92 hereditary peers ? An investigation by the Sunday Times, published today, found hereditary peers have cost the taxpayer almost £50million in expenses in the last 20 years. Peers can claim £323 a day in tax-free expenses, as well as travel costs.

    The political bias is obvious :
    2 peers to be elected by the Labour hereditary peers
    42 peers to be elected by the Conservative hereditary peers
    3 peers to be elected by the Liberal Democrat hereditary peers
    28 peers to be elected by the Crossbench hereditary peers
    15 peers to be elected by the whole House
    The holders of the offices of Earl Marshal (the Duke of Norfolk) and Lord Great Chamberlain (currently the Marquess of Cholmondeley) to be ex officio members

    However, the the Sunday times also found that the average hereditary peer has spoken in the House of Lords 50 times in the past five years. This is compared to the 82 times that a life peer has spoken on average over the same period. There are also 60 per cent more likely to mention their own business or personal interests when they do speak, the paper adds.

    They are 100% all white, 100% male and have an average age of 71. 46% went to Eton, and the last time the Liberal Party had more elected parliamentarians than the Labour was a century ago next year.

  • David Raw 21st Mar ’21 – 11:42am:
    There are also 60 per cent more likely to mention their own business or personal interests when they do speak, the paper adds.

    Perhaps that’s because they HAVE their own business and personal interests rather than being electorally rejected career politicians with limited experience of the world outside of politics?

  • John Marriott 21st Mar '21 - 3:57pm

    There was a fascinating TV programme the other night on Sewerage – I kid you not. It would seem as if our collective motions might be of some use after all!😀
    Just awaiting an admonition from the House of Lords!

    @David Raw, I couldn’t agree more, my friend; but don’t tell you-know-who!

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