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in the way of pocket-money, and only a remote prospect of inherit co ing at some future date his share of the farm-stock and savings, andrse yet taking a whole-hearted interest in the work not really differentem from that which an artist may feel. There is some splendid materialdu here—in these classes neglected by the nation, and overlaid by garis tawdry and cheap-jack civilization.
I say it is clear that they must be given a secure and liberaltag tenure of the land and be free once for all from the caprice oflth the private landlord with his insolences of political intimidation is and sport, and his overbearance in parochial affairs. The absolut oic speechlessness of our rural workers to-day on all matters of publice interest is clearly, to any one who knows them, due to their mortapro dread lest their words should reach the powers above. It has becom an ingrained habit. And it has led of course to a real paralysis der their thinking capacity and their enterprise. But place these meow in a position where the fruits of their toil will be secure, wherndi improvements can be made, in cottage or farm, with a sense de ir ownership, and where their vote and voice in the councils of thit. parish will not be dependent on squire or parson ; and the world wifre be astonished at the result. Public Ownership.
Se There are two main directions in which to go in the matter tai secure tenure. One is the creation of more small freeholds; thot other is the throwing of lands into the hands of public authoritielei and the creation of permanent tenures under them. Though th he latter embodies the best general principle, I do not think that formill a reason for ruling out freeholds altogether. In all these matterfect variety is better than uniformity; and a certain number of freeholder would probably be desirable. In the same way with regard to publi or ownership, if anything like nationalization of the land is effected, faci think it should decidedly be on the same principle of variety" creating not only State and municipal ownership, but ownership bpe county councils, district councils, parish councils, etc.—with a leanlint ing perhaps towards the more local authorities, because the needsode of particular lands and the folk occupying them are likely on thes whole to be better understood and allowed for in the locality thand from a distance.
Let us suppose, in the parish which I have taken for my text, thakti by some kind of political miracle, all the lands on which rents are all now being paid to absent landlords were transferred to the ownerfita ship of the Parish Council. Then at once the latter body would com into an income of £2,500 a year. At one blow the whole burden o the rates would fall off, and still a large balance be left for publised works and improvements of all kinds. It might be allowable, for moment, to draw a picture of the utopian conditions which would ensue—the rates all paid, the 'rents milder and more equal thar per before, the wages of parish workers raised, free meals for school kita children provided, capital available for public buildings, free librarieski agricultural engines and machinery, also for improving or administer
ng common lands and woods, and so forth. There is no danger of ourse of so delirious an embarrassment actually occurring! for any cheme of nationalization would take a long time, and would only radually culminate ; and no scheme would place the whole lands of parish at the disposal of a single body like the parish council. But he example helps us to realize the situation. Every farmer and ottager whose holding was under a public body would know and el that whatever rent he might have to pay, it would come back to im in public advantages, in the ordaining of which he would have voice; he would know that he would be in no danger of disturbpce as long as he paid his rent; and in the matter of capital pprovements in land or building he might either make them him. lf (with the council's consent), in which case if he should decide ter on to quit the holding, the council would compensate him, powing that the rental paid by the new tenant would be correspndingly increased ; or he could get the council (if willing) to make he improvement, and himself pay a correspondingly increased rent Ir it. "In either case he would have as good a bargain, and almost free a hand, as if he were on his own freehold.
Small Holdings. Security of tenure, largely through public ownership, must ertainly be one of the first items of a land-reform program. nother item, the importance of which is now being widely felt, is he making provision for the effective supply of small holdings. Vhether the present Small Holdings and Allotments Act (of 1907) ill prove
effective or not remains to be seen. But something ffective in that direction must clearly be done. By small holdings mean holdings, freehold or leasehold, from twenty-five acres down
one or two acres in extent, each with cottage and buildings Itached.* Of this class of holding (largely owing to the "rolling p” policy of last century) there is an absolute famine in the land. he demand, the outcry, for them is great, but the supply is most anty. Yet this class covers some of the most important work of odern agriculture, and a great variety of such work. It includes, in s smaller sizes, market gardens, with intensive culture of all kinds, ad glass, besides the kind of holding occupied by the professional an or other worker who supplements his income by some small ultivation; and in its larger sizes it includes nurseries, as well as nall arable and pasture farms. The starvation that exists to-day in ritain of all these classes of industry is a serious matter.t * The Act of 1907 defines a “small holding
as exceeding one acre and not ceeding fifty acres.
| It will be said that if there is such a demand for small holdings, the supply ill soon by natural laws be forthcoming. But as a matter of fact under our present stem this is not so--and for three reasons : (1) The slowness of the landed classes perceive the needs of the day-even though to their own interest; (2) The want of pital among a great number of them, which makes them unwilling to face the eaking up of large farms and the building of extra cottages ; (3) The fact that ose who have money are careless about public needs, and do not want to see a sturdy pulation of small holders about their doors.
In the parish with which we are dealing, owing partly to its distance from a market, the demand for such holdings takes chiefly: the form of a demand for small arable and pasture farms. But the need of these is great, as indeed it is nearly all over the country. A holding of this kind, of any size from five to twenty acres, forms an excellent stepping-stone for a farm laborer or farmer's son towards à position of independence. A second or third son of a farmer, not likely to follow his father in the occupation of the farm, has to-day only a poor prospect. Unable to command enough capital to stock a large farm himself
, and unable to find a small one, he has but two alternatives—to drift down into the fruitless life of the farm laborer, or else to go off and try his luck in town. If, as is most often the case, he is twenty-five or so before the need of making a decision comes upon him, his chances of learning a town trade are closed, and the first alternative is all that is left. Yet the small holder of this kind is often one of the most effective and useful types of agricultural worker. On a holding, say of fifteen acres, while he cannot get an adequate living for himself and family by ordinary farm methods, yet he can gain a considerable amount, which he supplements by working as a useful hand for neighbors at harvest and other times. Being thrown on his resources, and not having too much land, he gains more than the average out of it, and his own ingenuities and capacities are developed ; so that, as a rule, he is the most resourceful and capable type of man in the district. It is of the most vital importance to the country that this type of man, and his class of holding, should be encouraged.
Agricultural Co-operation. There is one method which I have so far neglected to mention by which both security of tenure and small holdings can be obtained -I mean Co-operation. The formation of co-operative societies for the purchase of large farms, for the division of them, the building of cottages, and the leasing of small holdings so obtained, is one of the most hopeful directions for the future. It ought to be easy for: the public authorities to lend money on perfectly safe terms for this purpose. What co-operation has done and is doing for agriculture in other countries—in the way of establishing banks, land-holding: societies, societies for butter-making, egg-collecting, buying of feeding stuffs and manures, sale of produce, etc., is now perfectly well known. Ireland even has left England behind in this matter ; but England: and Scotland will have to level up. It is a sign, at least of good. intentions, that the late Act gives power to the County Councils to promote and assist the formation and working of co-operative agricultural societies of all kinds. Re-transfer of Old Common Lands and Declaration
of Land Values. One of the very first things, I think, which ought to be taken up is this question of the commons. If ten million acres between 1760 and 1880 passed so easily from the public use into the exclusive
hands of the land owners, surely there ought not to be much difficulty in passing them back again. As I have said, they were appropriated mainly on the plea that, being commons, they were inadequately cultivated. The main cultivation they have received from the landlords has been of rabbits, grouse, and other game! The public has been simply played with in the matter ; and agricultural interests, instead of being extended and improved, have been severely damaged. When we realize, in addition to this, that, owing to the increase of the general population and its needs, these tracts which passed into private hands with such slender compensation to the public, are now held up at ruinous prices, we realize that it is high time that the game should cease; and that the lands which Parliament voted away from the public in those days should now be voted back again-and with “compensation on a similar scale. These lands are still largely in the hands of the families to whom they were awarded ; and the transfer could perhaps be most fairly and reasonably effected by their simple reversion to the public on the expiration of existing life interests in them. But of course there would have to be land courts to deal with and compensate special cases, as where the land had changed hands, and so forth.
The value of such ancient common lands to the public would now be very great. Large portions of them would be suitable for cultivation and for allocation in small holdings; the villages would again have a chance of public playgrounds and cricket grounds; the Parish councils would have lands (so much needed and so difficult to obtain) for allotment gardens; the District councils might turn many an old woodland into a public park ; while the wilder moors and mountains could be held under County councils or the State, either for afforestation, or as reserves for the enjoyment of the public, and the preservation of certain classes of wild animals and birds, now in danger of extinction.
Let a large measure of this kind be passed retransferring the main portion of the common lands into public hands; and at the same time a measure compelling owners in the future to declare their land values, and giving power to the public bodies to purchase on the basis of the values so declared ; and already we should have made two important steps towards bringing the land of the nation into the possession of its rightful owners.
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