“THERE ARE now Valuation lists in this form for every parish, except in the case of a few single parishes under separate Boards of Guardians, to which the Union Assessment Committee Act does not apply, but in which the Poor Rate contains generally the required information.
As the valuation lists of the several parishes are deposited with the clerks of the Unions, application was made to those officers to prepare and furnish the particulars for the present Return, so far as regarded the parishes in their respective Unions, corrected as far as practicable from information within their reach, or which might be obtained from the parochial officers, with the addition of the addresses of the owners. Similar applications were made to the clerks to the guardians of single parishes not under the Union Assessment Committee Act.
The Return comprises the whole of England and Wales, exclusive of the Metropolis, and some estimate may be formed of the labour involved in its compilation when it is borne in mind that the information had to be supplied in respect of nearly 15,000 parishes containing about 5,000,000 separate assessments.
The instructions were issued to the clerks to the guardians in September 1872, but upwards of two years elapsed before the last return was received.
The first examination of the returns disclosed nearly 250,000 defects, and these have since had to be cleared up, as far as practicable, and other means of inquiry.
IT WILL be convenient to refer separately to the three heads of information as regards owners of land of an acre and upwards.
These heads are –
I. Names and Addresses of Owners.
The greatest difficulty was found as to these columns.
The parish lists are prepared only for the purposes of rating, and the material columns for the purpose of the assessments are those which contain the names of the occupiers and the statements of the gross estimated rental and rateable value of the property in each separate occupation. The latter statements are essential to show the basis upon which the rate is to be assessed and the sums to be paid, whilst the insertion of the names of the occupiers is required to point out the persons who are liable for the several amounts assessed.
With regard to the column as to the names of the owners, however, it must be observed that although the prescribed form both of the poor rates and the valuation lists indicates that the name of the owner of the property in each separate occupation should be inserted in it, the overseers who prepare the lists are not empowered, as in the case of the valuation lists prepared under the Valuation (Metropolis) Act, 1869, to require any return of the names of the owners to be made to them, either by the occupiers or any other persons, and probably neither the valuation lists nor the rates would be invalidated if the names of the owners were omitted altogether.
Nor is it easy, with the various tenures of property in this country, to lay down a precise rule as to what constitutes ownership.