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Land Nationalisation Society Meeting Letter
(S653: 1908)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to Joseph Hyder read at the twenty-seventh annual meeting of the Land Nationalisation Society on 29 April 1908. Later printed on page 65 of the June 1908 issue of Land and Labour. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S653.htm

Broadstone, Wimborne,
April 26th, 1908.

Dear Mr. Hyder,

     I heartily congratulate the Society on the very wide acceptance of our principles, both in Parliament and by the Government. Its long-continued and energetic propaganda is now bearing fruit; but there is still much more to be done, and its efforts must not be relaxed.

     There are, I think, some points of vital importance, which may be embodied in Bills which the Government is pledged to introduce if we make a sufficiently energetic demand for them in Parliament. In the English Land Valuation Bill we should see, not only that our "Tax and Buy" principle is fully accepted, but, also that it is made applicable to all acquisition of land for public purposes, not only when specially adopted in any other bill; as such a provision would enable any future government to neutralize it. Its importance is very great for the adequate working of the Small Holdings Act, and it will even be more important for the promised Unemployed Workmen Bill of next session, which can only be made a success by the establishment of Co-operative Colonies of Agriculturalists and Artisans, on a sufficiently large scale and in sufficient number all over the country, to bring into cultivation a large proportion of the vast area of our wholly or partially uncultivated land. Much of this land brings in hardly any net income or none, to its owners, and they often pay no rates or taxes on it. It would be a scandal were they allowed as they are now, to make extravagant claims when it is required for a great national purpose, which will benefit the landowners themselves, by the increased national prosperity it will produce, even more than any other class of people.

     Equally important, and equally ripe for legislation, is the great principle that land, once in the possession of any public authority whatever, shall never be sold; and further, shall not be leased for a longer period than 20 to 30 years, so that the very next generation at the latest may benefit by whatever unearned increment may accrue from the increase of population, or from municipal or other improvements.

     This is so obviously just and politic, that if such a clause is, for technical reasons, out of order in the Valuation Bill, then some of our Members in Parliament should bring in a short Bill of one or two clauses, and press it upon the Government till it is adopted and passed. Even now, public land is often sold, or leased for very long terms, by which the increased value produced by the people is stolen from them. Till complete nationalisation is reached, I know nothing of more importance than such an enactment.

Yours very truly,
Alfred R. Wallace.

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