On Friday 8 February the Rivers Authorities & Land Drainage Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons, opening the way to the Bill proceeding through the relevant parliamentary stages. You can read the MPs debate from the Bill’s second reading on Hansard.
The Bill, which has been prepared by Defra, aims to put the Somerset Rivers Authority onto a statutory footing as a precepting body, and would also enable the reform of IDB ratings annual value lists. It recognises the need to ensure that the methodology through which IDBs calculate and collect drainage rates and special levy sits on a sound legal basis that can be periodically updated to contemporary values better reflecting current land and property valuation.
ADA supports the changes proposed in this Bill for ratings reform. ADA has been working with Defra and a number of IDBs to test a new methodology using contemporary valuation and Council Tax lists that could be applied via this legislative change.
This Private Members Bill was first introduced to the House of Commons back in March 2018 by David Warburton MP, but has been awaiting an opportunity to have a full debate at its second reading stage. Now that it has passed this hurdle it can now proceed to the Committee stage in the House of Commons. Further progress for the Bill will be dependent on the limited time available for Private Members Bills, and thus its passage to becoming an Act of Parliament remains uncertain.
Defra has included the provisions contained within the Bill in its recent public consultation on ‘Improving our management of water in the environment’. The outcome of this consultation could potentially enable these provisions to be included within a future Government backed legislation if the Rivers Authorities & Land Drainage Bill were to fail. The consultation is open for comments until 12 March 2019.