Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Dear Mr. Hyder,
I congratulate the Society on the steady growth of public opinion in favour of our views, largely due, I have no doubt, to the propaganda with our Vans, and to letters in the Press. The position we have now gained throughout the country, and our voting-power in the House of Commons, seem to me to be not as yet utilised to the best advantage. What we require is, I think, the formation of a Parliamentary Committee to hold regular meetings during the Session and to make arrangements for speaking and voting whenever questions affecting the land are being discussed.
But a much more important work for this Committee would be, to draw up a series of resolutions on certain phases of the land question in order to educate and influence Parliament itself, because any resolution frequently debated and ultimately passed by the House, becomes an important lever for influencing future legislation.
There is also one very important reform, which I suggested twelve or fifteen years ago, and which I have been much disappointed not to have ever seen mentioned by any one since, but which, by the exercise of a little energy, might soon, I think, be embodied in law. This is what I termed "The Inviolability of the Home," as defined in my Studies Scientific and Social, Vol. II., p. 443-4, where the form of a very short Bill of two or three Clauses is suggested.
The essential points of such a Bill would be that no one could be legally turned out of his house for any other cause than non-payment of rent. Being once in occupation of a house, he would be secure in the possession of it as a perpetual tenant at a fixed rent. Local Land Courts should be empowered to decide how any exceptional cases were to be decided with the minimum of disturbance or inconvenience to the tenant or the landlord, while the same Courts should have power to grant to the tenant at a fair rent, any addition to [[p. 64]] his garden or premises up to, say, five acres; or to grant new tenancies to the same extent and equally secure to any one desiring to have land on which himself to build a permanent home.1
Such an enactment as this would secure real freedom of conscience and of the franchise to thousands who do not now possess it, and would prevent an enormous amount of cruelty and persecution by landlords at every recurring election. It would, I think, be a measure that many Liberals and even many Unionists would support; it would affect an enormous number of voters, and would be a boon to a much larger number of persons than any single political reform in the Liberal programme. It would, moreover, make the boast--that "an Englishman's house is his Castle"--a reality, instead of being, as it is now, the grossest of false claims.
Many other fundamental subjects suitable for Parliamentary discussion are suggested in the same chapter, as well as in other parts of the same volume, but none, it seems to me, would be so popular both in and out of Parliament as this one. More than any other, it would give a real sense of freedom and security to every householder, and would do more to give renewed life and vigour to the advanced Liberal party than any other reform now capable of almost immediate realisation.
Yours very truly,
Alfred R. Wallace.