Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Sir,--Will you permit me to correct an important misapprehension of the aims and methods of the Land Nationalization Society that appeared to prevail at the Conference, and which there was no opportunity of explaining? A large number of the delegates expressed themselves strongly in favour of land nationalization, but owing to the paper of Professor F. W. Newman being taken as read, and no reply on his behalf being permitted through the pressure of time, our definite proposals were not explained. Hence many who were present inferred (and among them the Right Hon. G. J. Shaw-Lefevre, M.P.) that the proposals which I made in my paper, and which were solely intended to show how the great and increasing depression and distress could be remedied most easily and effectually, were those of our society.
It was also assumed by Mr. Frederic Harrison and others that we advocated the establishment of a peasant proprietary, against which all the arguments both of himself and Lord Bramwell were directed. On the contrary, we object to a general system of peasant proprietors as much as do these gentlemen, because we believe that it could not be permanent. We advocate "personal occupation" whether in small or large farms, with security of tenure, fixed rents, and very restricted powers of mortgage.
We also propose that the State shall acquire the land alone, all the landlord's improvements remaining the private property till purchased by his tenant, which renders all supervision by the State and all the officialism which Mr. Harrison supposes necessary to repair a gate or build a pigstye, totally unnecessary.
Thus every one of the elaborate criticisms of the gentlemen I have named apply to an imaginary scheme which we do not advocate, and are altogether inapplicable to our system of land nationalization.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,