Centenary of ‘landmark law’

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This year marks the centenary of the Finance Act 1910, a landmark law which has proved valuable in claiming routes as public paths for the definitive (official) map of rights of way in England and Wales.

David Lloyd George’s Finance Act 1910 introduced a tax on land, but landowners could apply for a reduction in tax if they admitted the existence of a public right of way across their land.  These records are shown on the valuation maps and in the field books (the ‘Domesday Books’)(1) and are held at the National Archives at Kew, and in many local record offices throughout England and Wales. 

Says our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘This was an important piece of legislation which is still valuable to us today in claiming public paths for the definitive map.  Lloyd George would have been pleased to know that his Finance Act would still be relied upon by path users a century later!’

1. The land valuation was undertaken by District Valuation Officers of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, and involved the compilation of field books and maps listing all property, a ‘Domesday Book’ summarising this information, and various forms including one listing all holdings of a particular individual.  All private land, including private roads, was assigned an assessment number.  The valuers would have been negligent if they had shown any land as public if it could be assessed for duty. In assessing the value of land, a deduction was made for, among other things, ‘the amount by which the gross value would be diminished if sold subject to any public right of way (section 25 (3) of the Finance Act 1910).

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