The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 56
Depression in Agriculture. — Facts for Farmers. — Leaflet No. XVI
Depression in Agriculture.
Facts for Farmers.
Leaflet No. XVI.
|1.||Re-adjustment of Local Taxation.|
|2.||Expropriation of Tithe Bent Charge.|
|3.||Reform of Land Tenure.|
|4.||Duties on Foreign Com.|
|5.||Reduction of Rents.|
With regard to No. I the relief to be gained would amount to, at most, one shilling an acre; and this would not benefit the Farmer in the long-run. It would find its way eventually into the Landlord's pocket. The same thing would happen with regard to No. 2. Tithes as well as Rates are reckoned as an outgoing in the same way as rent is, and any relief in them would also eventually find its way into the Landlord's pocket. As regards No. 3, no doubt much is to be done in the way of securing the tenant for outlay of capital, and in allowing him more freedom in cultivation. As to No. 4, the proposal to put duties on Foreign Corn, this country has had experience of the thing for thirty years-from 1815 to 1846.
The only class which benefited were the Landlords, who by means of the Corn Laws were able to exact high rents. Farmers were not benefited; they had to pay these high rents.
In 1819, 1820, and 1822 Agriculture was in a state of universal distress bordering on bankruptcy, and petitions for relief were presented to Parliament from all parts of the country. Farmers were ruined by thousands. One newspaper in Norwich advertised 120 sales of stock in one day.
During the thirty years the Corn Laws existed no less than five page break Parliamentary Committees were appointed to inquire into the causes of the distress.
Protection did not save the Farmers.
Agricultural labourers starved, so did the artisans in the towns. The 4-lb. loaf cost from 10d. to is. 6d. Out of the whole population one out of every eleven was a pauper.
The only class which gained was the Landlords. All other classes were plundered by them.
Protection is Robbery.
There is no chance whatever of its being re-imposed; but if by some possibility it were, it would not benefit the Farmer.
We now come to No. 5, Reduction of Rents.
Here we have the great remedy.
It is thence that the great relief is to come. Rents must be Reduced.
Let Farmers mark what follows:
During the great wars against Napoleon, for twenty years whilst the people were pouring out their blood and treasure, the Landlords were quietly doubling their rents.
In 1790 the average rent of 100 acres was £88; in 1813 it had risen to £161 the tithe in the same period increasing from £21 to £38.
When the war was about to cease the people naturally expected relief from the high war prices.
The Landlords, however, were filled with alarm lest their inflated rents should diminish, and controlling Parliament as they did in those unreformed days, they passed a Corn Law, by which it was enacted that Foreign wheat should not be admitted till the price rose to 80s., which meant that the 4-lb. loaf should rise to more than a shilling before relief was to be afforded to a starving people.
That is the way the Landlords kept up their rents in those days
In 1846 these infamous laws were repealed.
Then came Free Trade.
Owing to its benefits, and to those conferred by steam communication and the gold discoveries, Rents still rose.
In 1879-80 the returns to Income Tax under Schedule amounted to £69,000,000, while in 1852-3 they were £49,000,000. Since 1879-80 Rents have fallen, and the process must go on.
Farmers cannot afford the Rents formerly demanded and obtained.
Farm Bents must come down.
George W. Medley.
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