Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Replies to Questions Regarding Land Purchase
and Rental (S408: 1888)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Wallace's replies to questions posed to him as Chair of the seventh annual meeting of the Land Nationalisation Society, held 8 May 1888. Later printed in the Society's annual Report for 1887-8. Original pagination indicated within double brackets. To link directly to this page, connect with:

     [[p. 23]] In reply to questions, the Chairman said:--"We propose to buy the land without paying a penny. That can be very easily done, because it is not a matter of doubt, it is an absolute certainty that land in a growing community inevitably increases in value, just as its whole value is the creation of the growth of the community. When there is no community, there is no value in land, and exactly as a community increases in population and wealth, so land increases in value, and the estimate of the value of the land in this country for the last 50 years shows that it has increased in value at the rate pretty nearly of 2 per cent. per annum. (Cries of "No!" and "Yes!") Perhaps they were not thinking of "land," but of "agricultural land." Land as a whole meant all the country, not agricultural land only. The value of land was usually more than what went into the landlord's pockets. If the State were to take away the land to-morrow, giving the landlord bonds, not for the gross rental, but the net rent he receives, or if any portion of it were so taken by local authorities giving the landlords bonds, which, at fair interest would pay them the same rental that they now receive from the land--the increased rental the government would get, letting it out in small portions required by working men and others throughout the country, would be so great that it would not only pay the interest on these bonds but also probably extinguish them totally in 40 years, after which time, without further payment, the land would become the property of the community.

     [[p. 24]] Querist: Then you propose to let the land at an increased rental?

    Dr. Wallace: No–can't you understand? If the landlord lets a farm nominally at 100, he does not absolutely get above 80, owing to costs of management, lawyers, repairs, and all sorts of expenses. Although many farmers have not been able to make farming pay, working men always make the land profitable to them, even though they always have to pay more per acre than the farmer--often two or three times as much. Under our system the poor man would get his acre or two at the same rate as the farmer now gets his farm, which he has never hitherto done, and yet the government or local authority, having no agents or lawyers to pay, and nothing to do but to collect the rents by means of existing tax-collectors, would have a surplus with which to pay off the land-bonds. There is no method of getting the land so equitable, so simple, so beneficial to the working-man and to the country, and so sure to be successful, as this method of fair purchase on the basis of the landlords net receipts.

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