Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act 1987

Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act 1987

The Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act 1987 (1987 c. 47) was an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

The Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher was committed to the reform of local government finance; the solution decided upon by the mid-1980s was the introduction of the per-capita "community charge" - more famously known as the Poll Tax - and the abolition of the previous "rates" system, which had been based solely on property ownership.

In Scotland, a revaluation of the housing rates in 1985-1986 had increased the burden on homeowners - heavily Conservative voters - and caused a political storm. This caused something of a panic among Scottish Conservatives, fearful of the effects in marginal seats, who pressed for reform to be sped up in time for the 1987 general election.

It was decided that the poll tax would be implemented in Scotland before the rest of the United Kingdom, and a bill was drafted and put before Parliament in late 1986 with this intention - it was the final major piece of legislation introduced before the election. It received its second reading on 9th December, when it was described by Malcolm Rifkind as a "radical reforming measure".

Two significant amendments were made in response to backbench concerns. Firstly, it was to be implemented in one sweep in 1989, rather than progressively between 1989 and 1992, against the advice of the Scottish Office. The second change was to make each individual liable to the tax responsible for paying rather than designating a single "head of household" in each residence and requiring them to collect for the others; whilst this did not make much difference in a normal family dwelling, it meant that in multiple-occupation housing - especially student houses - it would prove very difficult to pin down individuals in order to tax them.

References

*"Failure in British government: the politics of the poll tax" (p. 101-104), David Butler, Andrew Adonis & Tony Travers. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1994. ISBN 0-19-827876-4
*"Chronological table of the statutes"; HMSO, London. 1993. ISBN 0-11-840331-1


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