Conservative Party attempts to table amendments to the empty rates Bill failed during the third reading in Parliament yesterday.

Local government spokesman Michael Gove tabled four amendments to the Empty (Rating) Properties Bill seeking to clarify what buildings would be exempted from tax – such as listed buildings, buildings where the owner had a legal reason for not being able to occupy the building, and buildings subject to an ongoing planning application etc. The amendment also sought to define what constituted ‘deliberate vandalism’ of buildings and other avoidance measures that might be taken to avoid paying rates.

Gove said the bill was a simple, one-clause bill that was being rushed through parliament and would lead to appeals because of its lack of clarity.

The Government defeated the amendment by 236 votes to 146 votes. It said the proposed amendments would be inappropriate to deal with in primary legislation but accepted that the bill contained exemptions for charities and sporting ventures.