An Englishman's house is the Councils
Council tax inspectors will be given the right to enter homes and fine householders who refuse to cooperate under a new property revaluation scheme, the Conservatives claimed last night.
They accused ministers of "covertly" pushing through new laws that would give the inspectors power to levy fines of up to £1,000 to back up a revaluation that could see council tax bills soar.
The new powers are due to be rubber-stamped today by a little-noticed committee of MPs dealing with delegated legislation reforming the domestic rating system in Northern Ireland.
The Conservatives said Ulster was being used as a testing ground for a looming council tax revaluation in England, which will put extra charges on homes that have double glazing, a scenic view, a swimming pool, or have more bedrooms than average.
The order extends the power of entry for gathering information to domestic properties in Northern Ireland, and obliges the occupier to give reasonable assistance when information is being sought for valuation.
Where a person fails to give reasonable assistance to a valuation officer, they will be guilty of a new offence and liable to a fine of up to £1,000. The offence will be recorded by local police and courts. A further £200-a-day fine can be imposed if householders continue to refuse to cooperate.
The powers are tougher than those already in England, where a fine of up to £500 can be imposed on anybody who "intentionally obstructs" Valuation Office Agency inspectors.
We have covered the existing law here before and how Labour lied about it last December - so don't believe any denials you hear today.
Snodgrass is going to come barging in photographing the inside of your home whether you want him to or not.