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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

Land Acquisition Bill

Land Acquisition Bill.

There was one other matter he would page 14 like to deal with. He had shown how settlement should be carried on, in his opinion; but there was another question of importance—what should they do with the large estates, especially in Canterbury and Otago, through which railways were running where there was no population at all, and which would not be cut up, unless they did something. One of two things must be done. Either the Crown must put a large progressive tax on these people, or we must allow people to hew out farms from some of these large estates, and pay a reasonable compensation for them. (Cheers.) Last session he introduced a bill for the purpose of acquiring land in these large estates by means of associations of 20 persons, who could go and take up apiece of land, have it valued, and the Government would advance three-fourths of the money, and the Association advance the remaining fourth. In that way they would become possessed of a reasonable portion of land. In consequence of the Want-of-Confidence motion he had not an opportunity of bringing in the bill, but he intended to bring it forward next session. It was a bill, he believed, should be passed. The question must be dealt with. It was unjust to the people of this colony that they should be enhancing the value of the properties of these people by public works, by the increase of population, and by the industries carried on throughout the colony, without the owners of these estates paying a reasonable amount in return. One single railway carried through a large property might mean placing in the pockets of the owner half a million, or even a million of money. Where did this value come from? It comes out of the pockets of the people of the colony, and they had a right to ask that the interest on that amount at any rate should be returned to them That was the equity of the case, he could see no other side to it. Complaint was made that this Bill meant spoliation. If there was progressive taxation of sufficient amount he would not object to it; it was the object he wished to attain, and undoubtedly, it must be attained before many years (applause),