Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Dear Mr. Hyder,--I am very glad to see how steadily the friends and supporters of Land Nationalisation continue to increase, while there are indications that even the official mind is being so far instructed as to be forced to admit some of the fundamental evils of landlordism. Only the other day, Mr. Goschen stated in Parliament that the impoverished condition of the Deptford labourers was due to the sweating of landlords rather than to the lowness of their wages, and that whenever an increase of wages was given a rise of rents soon followed which transferred most of the advance into the landlords' pockets. This has been the teaching of land nationalisers this 20 years, and now that a high Tory Minister has recognised the fact, it is to be hoped that Parliament will see the utter futility of all attempts to improve the condition of the poor which do not go to the root of the matter in the land question. It may even be doubted whether old-age pensions will not be at least partially absorbed by a rise in the rents of all houses in which the recipients live, and will thus turn out to be another gift to those urban landlords who are already living upon the past and present labour of the people. Such a result, following upon the admitted rise of rents when education was made free, and, as Mr. Goschen states, when any increase of wages is given, ought to furnish us with an argument so cogent and convincing that neither the doubters nor the dunces of Parliament will be able much longer to resist it. Even the better housing of the poor--of late so much reported on and talked about--is simply impossible so long as the landlord-power is left untouched. Nothing less drastic than life-long security of tenure and fixity of rent will meet the case, while this will easily solve the problem and also have many other beneficial results.
But perhaps the only proposal that goes to the root of the matter without being of such an alarming nature as to be for the present out of the sphere of practical politics, is Mr. Howard's excellent plan for the establishment of "Garden Cities," the whole land in and around which is to become ultimately the property of the Municipality. These, if in sufficient numbers, would withdraw large bodies of the workers from the slums, and check that continuous growth of cities and depopulation of the rural districts which is one of the most terrible results of landlordism and a serious danger to civilisation itself. Given the will, among a sufficient number of wealthy philanthropists, and there are really no difficulties in carrying out this beneficent scheme, which would at once beautify our country and check that progressive deterioration of our population which can no longer be denied. Such cities would afford a practical and very striking illustration of the truth and importance of our fundamental principles, and I therefore trust that both our Executive and all our members will cordially support Mr. Howard in his disinterested crusade against our city-created poverty, disease, and crime.
Alfred R. Wallace.