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Russian Peasants’ Banks were employed as the agents of the new policy. The banks were authorised to buy land themselves directly from the owners and re-sell in lots to the peasants. The terms of loans were made for 551 years, and the annual instalments were reduced to 4} per cent. The result was that land purchase increased enormously. In 1905 the Peasants' Banks lent 3,300,0001., and in 1907 they lent nearly 11,500,0001. This money went to the poorest classes of peasants, and the loans granted averaged 94 per cent. of the value of the land, while nearly 20 per cent. of the borrowers were landless applicants and about 60 per cent. had holdings running from two and a half to eighteen acres of land. From the 1st of January 1906 to the 31st of December 1909, the land sold in lots amounted to nearly 5,000,000 acres. It was estimated that at the end of 1911 about 507,000 small ownerships would have been created in Russia. M. Stolypin, the Russian Prime Minister, condemns the idea of State ownership of land. ‘Collective possession,' he says, 'is embarrassing for agriculture, and land reform is to be brought about by creating and strengthening private property.'

Take Denmark. From 1900, when the Danish Government began to give financial assistance for the establishment of small freeholds, over 5000 peasant farms had been established up to the middle of 1910. The amount advanced by the State Bank from 1900 to 1909-10 was nearly 1,200,0001.

With co-operation as it exists in Denmark and elsewhere, and with co-operative credit through Raiffeisen societies, the position of the small owner would be very different from what it was fifty years ago; and great as are the difficulties in the way of small ownership, they are not greater than those which attend small tenancy; while as a national asset ownership is vastly higher, since it means the development of individual responsibility, character, and healthy ambition.

Lord Lincolnshire sees a great advantage in what he calls the 'mobility' of tenancy. Mobility may sometimes be necessary, but is it a thing to be eagerly encouraged, and is not Lord Lincolnshire aware of the easy mobility of ownership in Germany, in Canada, or the United States? Because a man owes something upon a piece of land, there should be no more difficulty in selling-if the land is of value—than if it was all paid for. Lord Lincolnshire says, in regard to this :

Under the ownership system he must find a purchaser for his holding, he has to accept the market price of the day, and he may be able to move only by sacrificing a considerable part of the capital he has sunk in his holding.

Certainly he has to accept the market price of the day, but the
VOL. LXXII-No. 426

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tenant of a county council, if he has made improvements--which, by the way, he cannot make without the assent and permission of the council--can only sell to his successor improvements at the market price! Lord Lincolnshire talks about the happy position of the tenant whose landlord makes the improvements on the farm he leases. In this he can only be thinking of the sitting tenant; but what about the small tenants of the county councils of whom so many thousands have been created under the Small Holdings Act of 1908?

Have county councils been found to be the givers of good gifts, the makers of improvements for the small tenants? The State will either not execute improvements, or will charge the tenant up to the hilt for them, which amounts to the same thing. One good point Lord Lincolnshire does make, and it is this.

He says:

One of the principal objects in providing small holdings is to supply an agricultural ladder, so that a man who begins by making a success of a small allotment may gradually rise until he becomes the tenant of a large farm.

There is much in that, but it must not be forgotten that in order to increase his holding the tenant must have increased his own personal capital to enable him to work the extended property; and with no heavier burdens than those the tenant bears would the small owner increase his purchase. The size of a piece of property is not the test of the wealth that flows from it. In Belgium as much is got out of one acre by intensive culture as out of many acres here.

Opening the Small Holdings and Country Life Exhibition at the Crystal Palace last year, Lord Lincolnshire said :

The small holder should aim at large profits. A large farmer might be content with profits of 21. or 31. an acre, but a small holder should aim at 101. or 151. an acre profit by adopting intensive methods and growing the best-paying crops.

Quite so. Then, if by intensive culture a small farm can be made to pay five times as much as a large farm, where is the particular advantage of the agricultural ladder' which will enable a tenant to work a large property ?

The truth is, we are trying to farm with a few men on a grand scale. In countries like Germany, Denmark, Russia, Belgium, and France, they are farming with a great number of men on a small scale. With them the farm is regarded as a factory, and agriculture as a manufacturing industry, to which all the resources of science and the infinite pains of the small cultivator must be applied to get adequate results. What is needed is organisation upon a large scale, either for small tenancy

or for small ownership. Small ownership carefully organised and carried out, as it has been by the settlers' societies in Germany and by the parcelling-out banks of Austria-Hungary, will give us that which we need more than anything else--small men upon the soil and more intensive culture.

Lord Lincolnshire charges Unionists with a political rather than a moral and industrial object. He suggests that, to us, small ownership has its lure, only because we think it is obstructive to Socialism. The reply might easily be a jibe concerning the lure of land nationalisation and the single tax, but I forgo the temptation. Those who think as I do, advocate small ownership for its social, industrial, and national advantages before all else. No policy which was so artificial as to have only a political purpose could have any length of life. But this policy of small ownership has been tried; it has been pursued with organised national effort, backed by Government policy, in neighbouring lands which, like Denmark, once poverty-stricken and not able to feed themselves, now feed us, who first taught them what scientific agriculture means.

One of the most remarkable results of ownership as distinct from tenancy may be found in Ireland. Everyone knows the progress of Irish prosperity under co-operation so splendidly devised by Sir Horace Plunkett, united with the effect of the Wyndham Land Purchase Act of 1903. Between 1881 and 1891 the population of Ireland decreased by over 470,000 people ; between 1901 and 1911 the population only fell by 76,824 ! Ownership and co-operation had the commanding share in this.

It is to my mind a real pity that we cannot keep the question of agriculture and the land out of the fierce arena of party politics. Since things are as they are, however, and since Lord Lincolnshire must write critically of those who think as I do, we must in return show the weakness or the fallacy underlying his own arguments and the arguments of those who, in the end, will probably break his heart politically-for Mr. Lloyd George and his fanatical lieutenants do not mean what Lord Lincolnshire means, which is the preservation of private tenancy as it has existed over generations in this country, supplemented by county council tenancy. They-the revolutionists-mean socialistic occupancy of the land and crushing taxes which may yet drive Lord Lincolnshire to buy a ten-mile sheep-run in Australia, where, I am quite sure, he would be happy among the people who very properly admired him when he was Governor of New South Wales.

GILBERT PARKER.

THE UNIONIST PARTY AND THE

SMALL HOLDINGS ACT

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR A TEMPORARY ALTERNATIVE POLICY

In theory there are certain questions that lie outside the domain of party politics. The need for a strong Navy and for a healthy, well-housed, and contented peasantry is admitted cheerfully on both sides of the House ; each represents an ideal for which men strive, quite irrespective of the trend of their political opinions. The papers published in the June and July issues of this Review show that the cause of the farmer and his labourer is dear to politicians, though their view of it is coloured by their profession and they are apt to discuss it as an abstract rather than a living issue.

Statesmen are aware that a manufacturing country like ours has to contend against many disadvantages. The countryside is always sending a part of its best material to the towns, there, in many cases, to deteriorate. The uneventful peace, miscalled dulness, of our rural districts leads young men and women to revolt, and year by year we see the healthy country stock diminished at the call of the manufacturing town or the emigration agent. Even France, whose well-nigh stationary birth-rate causes considerable alarm to her friends, does better than this. She manufactures very little more than she needs for home consumption, rings her manufacturers round with a wall of tariffs, and holds a strong, sturdy and thriving race upon the soil, developing itself, keeping the land fertile, living in thrifty comfort, and accumulating money.

Doubtless it was with a view to bring the British countryside more into line with national requirements that the Small Holdings Act was introduced by the Liberal Government, and it is with every confidence in the virtues of the Act that the Government has 'speeded it up' of late. But, carefully considered, the Act will be found to carry all its virtues on the surface. Close inquiry into the working reveals faults of a very grave kind. Unfortu

I'Rival Land Policies,' by the Marquess of Lincolnshire, June 1912, and a reply by the Right Hon. Jesse Collings, M.P., July 1912.

nately the Government is committed to the Act, just as the Unionist party is committed to a policy of small ownership, and the object of this paper is to set out, first, the worse features of the Small Holdings Act in practice, and secondly, a policy that might serve the Unionist party while it is in opposition, and might even permit small ownership to be held over until the country is ready for it. The agricultural labourer is in a very sorry plight, and those who are most concerned for his condition should welcome any reasonable plan for its improvement without regard to party considerations.

Let us turn in the first place to consider the Small Holdings Act from the standpoint of the hardworking farmer who has invested brains and capital in his business, who wages unending war with our varying climatic conditions, and at best, taking one year with another, makes a very little more than he spends. The Act threatens the farmer with a loss of land that, while it will reduce his gross income considerably, will leave his gross expenditure untouched. Take, for example, the case of the man who is farming five hundred acres and is employing a dozen permanent hands. His will not be high farming ; that has gone out of fashion in the country for reasons to be touched upon later in these pages; but he will have a capital of four or five thousand pounds invested, and will probably possess modern and expensive agricultural machinery and valuable teams of plough-horses which are only remunerative at certain seasons of the year. When the land is sealed down by frost or becomes very soft after a thaw the horses cannot go upon the land and must remain in their stalls.

Under the Act the farmer may be called upon to surrender fifty of his five hundred acres. But the sacrifice of 10 per cent. of his holding will not reduce gross expenditure to the extent of 5 per cent. He will in all probability require the same number of men and horses as before; he will certainly be unable to dispense with any of his costly machinery. Nothing will be reduced save his gross takings; though, of course, if any of his men have taken advantage of the Act, and are leaving him to set up for themselves, he will have the additional loss of skilled labour that cannot be easily replaced. Another problem that will face him in this connection will be the lack of cottage accommodation, for this trouble prevails throughout the country. In the past fifteen years the pressure of life in towns has driven thousands of hard-working citizens of the middle class to find week-end cottages. They have sought the most attractive villages within an hour or two of large towns, and have acquired cottages that were built originally for labourers and were being let for a couple of shillings or half-a-crown a week. In the great majority of cases these cottages do not belong to the farms, but have been purchased by

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