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natural beauties that surround a village are the property of the village, as far as the enjoyment goes that neither does material damage nor interferes with other legitimate enjoyment. They will have learnt to believe that the maddest dog in England is the Dog in the Manger, and when such a one shows his nose in a village their belief will be very apt to take an active form.
Views are not damaged by being looked at; it does not spoil timber to sit in the shade of a tree ; grass is little hurt by children's picking cowslips in cowslip time; blackberrying breaks few hedges.
A New Village Industry. You here know better than I do to how many Londoners “each simple joy the country yields” would be an attraction and a real rest and refreshment, if they could only come by them. I look forward to a time when the entertainment of London visitors will be one of the great industries of country villages. When the country will be to London what Switzerland is to Europe. When the communal guest-house will “do" a London visitor well for 2s. 6d. a day and night and bring a handsome profit to the community. When relations of friendship will exist between townsmen and countrymen and when the born rustic who happens to be a native of Whitechapel will quite naturally and easily take the place of the born Londoner who came into the world at Stogginton. When a girl going up to service in town will find that she has there a circle of acquaintances made in the country, and holiday London, instead of swarming like bees to the treacle-pots of Ramsgate and Hastings, will scatter itself over the villages within a radius of 50 or 60 miles. A game of bowls under a tree is pleasanter than " Aunt Sally" on the sands; a stretch over high downs and sandwiches under a maybush are better than the foulness of the sea beach at the great tripping places and the heart-sickening uniformity of the cheap restaurant.
London should remember that the restoration of the laborer to the land in the character of an independent peasant may mean to London the opening of several hundred places of enjoyment; to many thousands of Londoners, themselves only two or three generations away from the country, the re-awakening of that natural love of fields and leaves which exists in them so strongly as children and is so terribly obscured as they grow up by the uncounteracted influences of the public-house and the music-hall. London should remember, too, that it is better that the country should send up to recruit her population young freemen, with a happy boyhood behind them, than heart-broken drudges escaping from a bitter servitude.
There is no making a Garden City of London. But the whole country within a radius of 70 or 80 miles may be made a garden of pleasaunce for Londoners to enjoy, with wrong to none, with infinite good to many, and to the general benefit of England.
Only—THE GREAT FARMER STOPS THE WAY.
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Public Control of Electric
Power and Transit
The New Heptarchy Series, No. 3.
PUBLISHED AND SOLD BY
THE FABIAN SOCIETY.
PRICE ONE PENNY.
THE FABJAN SOCIETY, 3 CLEMENT'S INN, STRAND, W.C.
PUBLISHED APRIL 1905. REPRINTED JULY 1908.
Public Control of Electric Power and
The Report of a Committee of the Society appointed to consider the
Control of Electrical Power and Transit, presented to the Society on 25th November, 1904, by S. G. Hobson, the Chairman of the Committee, and adopted.
If there is one thing in the world which a sanely ordered society might be expected to consider a matter for the community to under take, it is the management and control of transit. For, by its very nature, transit cannot be other than an essentially communal affair. It affects not one trade or one group of trades only, but every industry, every class, every individual throughout the land. The farmer, whose success depends on his ability to send his produce rapidly and in large quantities to the best market, the manufacturer who must obtain his raw materials cheaply and dispose of his finished wares easily if he is to stand up against foreign competition, the workman, for whom the all-important housing problem is almost entirely the problem of ready and cheap access to his work, the ordinary man in the street," whose only chance of physical health so often depends upon his being able periodically to get out of the street into the purer air of the country,—to all these good transit is a primal necessity of life.
No private corporation is likely to take all these varied and important public needs into account. Nor is there any reason why we should expect it to do so. Railway and tramway companies are not philanthropic or patriotic agencies, but bodies of conimercial operators carrying on business avowedly for their own profit. They will not and cannot consider the public interest except in so far as it may chance to be identical with their own. Therefore, since the public interest is at every point so vitally involved, it should surely be plain to a reasonable man, uninstructed in old-fashioned economics, that transit is par excellence a matter for the public itself to look after.
Our forefathers thought otherwise. When the application of steam to transit brought about a revolution in the means of communication throughout the United Kingdom, it hardly seems to have occurred to statesmen of that era that the matter was one with which the State had any concern. The whole responsibility of building up our railway system was left to private corporations, who exploited the needs of the public in their own interests, and from whose manifold oppressions and exactions we are still suffering.
The Advent of Electricity. Fortunately we are now in a position to avoid similar mistakes. The discovery of electricity and of its almost inexhaustible potentialities has created a situation essentially similar to that created in the last century by the discovery of steam. If gigantic and tyrannical trusts monopolizing the production and use of electrical power are not to dominate our
children as the railway companies dominate us, we must see that the community secures at the outset effective and systematic control over the new force.
The economical generation of electrical power and the efficient administration of all forms of transit have now become two of the most pressing of industrial problems. That they are closely related, the one to the other, needs no argument ; it is, of course, obvious. Modern conditions, notably the economy of electrical production on a large scale and the growing need for the effective co-ordination of all means and methods of transit, render it imperative in discussing electrical power also to consider the means of communication. The merest tyro in industrial science knows that the production of electrical power can only be cheap in places where a traction load is in demand in addition to a lighting load. The social and industrial significance of electricity does not end here; for the most economical production is where the factories also draw upon the public generating station for their power. It is clearly our business to examine the new economic situation which has thus been created.
Apart from the many controversies which circle round our competitive efficiency in the world's market, in which power and transit play the most prominent part, it is evident that when the transmission of electrical energy from a central station becomes an accomplished fact, it also becomes a problem of public administration. Trespass in various forms upon public property and rights is involved. Trivial though this may be in practice, it nevertheless raises important issues. The tearing up of our streets may be quite the least inconvenience experienced by the local authority. The general welfare of a locality may be endangered by inefficient power production or by extortionate charges levied by a private company whose dividends are the goal of their short-sighted ambition. Arbitrary private management of such important economic factors is far too dangerous to be permitted or allowed indefinitely to continue.
Electricity and the State. Previous to the passing of the Electric Lighting Act of 1882, there existed no authority, the City of London excepted, that could permit the laying of underground mains for electric lighting. Prior to the passing of this Act, several companies had promoted private bills seeking such powers. The Government deemed it more expedient to pass a general measure to facilitate the use of electricity. Under this Act the Board of Trade could grant licences or provisional orders to public authorities or private companies to establish a system of electric distribution in any district. In the case of a private company the consent of the local authority had to be obtained. Any agreement made between the two parties was subject to the sanction of the Board of Trade. If the local authority objected, a provisional order could be secured if a majority of the inhabitants unmistakably