The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 67
A National Land Policy
A National Land Policy.
The Nationalization of the Land.
[Dunedin "Echo," April 15, 1882.]
"Compulsory expropriation is a thing, which for an adequate public object, is itself admissible, and so far, sound in principle."—Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone.
No political doctrine has made more progress among the people in recent years than that expressed in the nationalization of the land. The profound and far-seeing mind of Mill grappled with the problems and laid down the conditions of its solution, though his proposals only went the length in practice of modifying existing systems of land tenure. He had to deal with the customs and habit of thought of centuries, and, what he approached with no uncertain step in England, we may surely attempt with some confidence in a country barely fifty years subject to the rule of a civilised power.
An American writer, Mr. H. George, in his clever book entitled, "Progress and Poverty," has ventured beyond Mill in his plan of recovering to the State land which it has alienated. Mill would appropriate that portion of the rent in future which arises from the pressure of population, or the general progress of society, and not from any exertions or expenditure on the part of the owner. Mr. George seems to adopt as a fundamental position the theory, that the State has a right to appropriate all rent, from whatever cause it might have arisen, on the ground that private property in land is indefensible. Mr. George would not pay from the public exchequer for the economic errors of society in the past, but would make the individual who accepted the guarantee of the State the victim of the national wrongdoing. To state the doctrine is to condemn it, and it is the blot on a work which, so far as it refers to the economic advantages of State ownership, has comprehensively and conclusively dealt with the subject.
It is not our purpose here to go over the ground taken up by the advocates of nationalization. We accept the principle, and propose to address ourselves to the means which we think should be adopted by our legislators to apply it. It is not too soon to approach the subject from the practical side. The number of those who accept the theory are already formidable, and are daily increasing. Many able and eloquent men, both in and out page 8 of Parliament, are sparing no pains to bring the question into the front rank of measures of legislative importance, and are devising practical means to give effect to their opinions.
In what way is the stronghold of individual property in land to be assailed? By one heroic measure, when public opinion is ripe for it, after the plan of Mr. George, either with or without compensation; or by a system of progressive legislation, moving forward gradually in accordance with the growth and development of public opinion? We give our preference to the latter system of attack, as more in accordance with sound principles of strategy, and as more likely to meet with ultimate success. A chess player who understands something about the strategy of the game does not rush right away and concentrate all his forces on the quarters of the King, but operates on mam parts of the field at the same time, hoping that the sum of his advantages will render his Majesty's position ultimately untenable. In actual warfare, great victories are won in the same manner.
It may be necessary here to say a word or two in respect of an objection which is often urged to the nationalization of the land. When the land, or any considerable portion of it, has been leased, will not the State tenants be powerful enough to combine to obtain the freehold? If this result is at all probable, it is useless to expend a life's work on an object which is no sooner gained than lost. When devoted men make great sacrifices, they must be assured of a response. Let us glance at the conditions. In our opinion the principal reason in favour of the nationalization of the land is that the land of any country soon becomes a monopoly, the possessors being few in comparison with the population. The monopolists without effort grow rick The landless, continually increasing their number, grow poor, and, having the franchise, live in a state of agitation, and attach the privileged. We do not need to give illustrations: every country in the world abounds with them. Let us suppose, now, that we have only national land. The phenomena presented in this case would be, on the one hand a body of cultivators paying rent, to the State; and on the other a greater body living by wages, mainly in towns, deriving a beneficial interest from the rents, and remaining content in the knowledge that they participate in the prosperity of the agricultural tenant. On the ground of self-interest the more numerous class will cast the votes against the disturbance of a system which works in their favour.
In a system of State leasing, we may assume the right of the first tenant to sub-let. Now, though we have [unclear: found] the case of the Greymouth Native reserves, for instance) [unclear: th] the original tenant will desire to turn his leasehold into a free hold, all the sub-tenants will firmly resist any attempt of the kind. On the land itself we have thus two forces which [unclear: will] page 9 to conserve the principle of State-leasing: the labourers who work for wages, and who have a vested interest in the rents, and the subtenants, who would always prefer the State to the individual to deal with. In a word, in the conflict of interests the system becomes secure.
A further security exists in the mode of applying the land revenue. If this revenue were localised and set apart for definite purposes, two objects would be gained—the sentiment as well as the interest of the community would be opposed to denationalisation, and a check would be provided against the inevitable tendency to minimise rents. When local institutions depended on a certain income, there could be no improper sympathy with every attempt to reduce the income. The full security for all improvements would provide against rack-renting, an evil we cannot conceive possible under the State. One part of the revenue ought to be appropriated for intercommunication in the land district; one part for education; and one part for police, gaols, hospitals, lunatic asylums, and so forth. The first charge, of course, would be for administration, central as well as local, and the remainder would be localised. In the course of time, as the revenue increased and exceeded that necessary for the services to which it was applied, readjustment would be made. We have seen how insuperable has been the difficulty to obtain any reduction in the indefensible export duty on gold, because it happened to be made local revenue. It would seem that the most obnoxious tax can be made palatable if only it is applied to local purposes; and we may justly reason that the economic rent of land, which is not only unobjectionable but absolutely essential to the existence of society, whether it is paid to an individual or to the State, would, under the conditions we have named, be looked upon as an order of nature, and be no more disputed than is the moral obligation on a man to pay his debts.
We now come to the consideration of the steps which might be taken to reach the goal. The land of the Colony may for our purpose be divided into three classes. The first is land which is the property of the Crown, or exists in the form of endowments for public institutions, and therefore still belongs to the State. The second is land which has not passed from the possession of the aboriginal Natives, whether it be land under the primitive title, under any Crown title, or as reserves. The third class is land owned by private persons or public companies. The quantity of land alienated by the Crown and owned privately is about 14 million acres. About three million acres have been purchased directly from the Natives, making 17 million acres held and owned by private individuals. The Natives still retain about 16 million acres. Taking the area of the Colony at 65 million acres, the Crown owns 32 million acres—about as much in area, though not in natural quality, as private persons and Natives combined.page 10
It is unnecessary here to go into the question as to how much of these 32 million acres of Crown lands is available for any industrial purpose. A large proportion is unavailable for agriculture or pasture, as it includes mountain and gully, river and lake. Our object is simply to show how we may retain what we have got, and how we should proceed to redeem and recover what we have either parted with, or, in the case of the Native land, what has not yet been in the possession of the Crown. The advocate of nationalization will have mountains of prejudice to contend with, and the best course for him to [unclear: pursh] in legislation and administration is to meet each point on its own merits, advancing just sufficient argument to meet the cast, and proving that his plan is the one best adapted to promote the interests of those affected. We shall make this idea clear as was proceed.
Nationalization of the Land.
[Dunedin "Echo," April 22, 1882.]
It cannot be denied that there is in the mind of the [unclear: masses] strong prejudice against State leasing. They have been taught to value "a bit of their own land" as the greatest boon under heaven, and the ingenuity of our politicians has been [unclear: taxed] provide them with a means of acquiring a portion of terra [unclear: fi] in fee simple. We may, therefore, hope to do no more [unclear: th] limit the quantity of land disposable in agricultural areas, [unclear: h] might not, for instance, be unpopular to confine the sale of land to the system of deferred payments. Of the thirty-two [unclear: milli] acres of Crown land, but a small portion is fitted by Nature [unclear: fr] agriculture as at present practised in the Colony. We [unclear: ha] seen that the Ormond idea, of selling the worst land to save the Colony from taxation for ordinary purposes, is not likely [unclear: t] prevail. No party advocated the sale instead of the leasing, the other day, of the Otago runs, the question being how to lease them to yield the best results. The area re-leased—whether wisely in the way it has been done is not here under consideration—has for ten years been reserved from alienation. What have, therefore, practically to consider is, the best [unclear: way] proceeding to nationalize the agricultural land still available, the pastoral land being virtually nationalized, at least in one important part of the Colony.
One portion of the old Otago runs reserved is to be disposed of on pastoral deferred payments—a system which may [unclear: be] page 11 brought into force in Canterbury in the present year. Some of this land is fit for agriculture, and is thrown in to make the "mountain tops" marketable. The system has now been tried, and we believe has not been a success. From any point of view, the advocate of nationalization in opposing it will have on his side powerful influences in Canterbury, and is not likely to experience much difficulty in changing the system in Otago. We would substitute for sale the leasing of these mixed miniature runs, for the same term, namely 15 years. At the end of this time, the lessee should be entitled to have his improvements protected over 320 acres, and in renewing the lease, the rent to the former lessee should be reduced by the interest on such improvements. The true theory as to improvements is, that for the present they should be confined to agricultural land. One object gained would be the encouragement of agriculture, and another an improving class of occupiers. The necessary legislation is required.
The question of dealing with purely agricultural land in areas not exceeding 820 acres is divisible into two parts—legislation and administration. We cannot hope to repeal the existing law at present, and must therefore proceed cautiously, using the abundant precedents the statute book affords. Government should have the power of setting apart land for leasing on a twenty-one years' tenure, all unexhausted improvements on the part of the tenant to be protected to him at the end of the term.
Financially the comparison will stand as follows: A deferred-payment settler now pays—partly through the higher upset price placed on the land, and partly through excessive competition from the payments being deferred—about 50 per cent, on the average more than if he bought for cash. For land worth a pound an acre he pays 30s., in twenty half-yearly instalments of 1s. 6d. each. On a two-hundred acre section he pays at least £30 a year for ten years. That is the present system. What does an equitable leasing system offer? The State is to receive interest on the cash value of its land, and if it get this combined with the indirect advantages of occupation and cultivation it does well. The value of a corresponding selection of 200 acres is as many pounds, for which the State receives 4 per cent., or £8 a year, as rent. For 21 years the rent is fixed, and then an equitable rent by valuation is assessed for another term, all improvements being allowed for, which confers fixity of tenure. Suppose, then, we had the necessary legislation, and a Government anxious to give this system a fair trial, would any considerable number of people prefer it to the present system of deferred-payments? The answer which experience of the working of the deferred-payment plan gives is—that the difference in the amount of the annual payments would tend to give the leasing system the preference, with all whose capital was small in proportion to the cost of maintenance on the farm. The page 12 struggle to make the periodical payments at present is proverbial, with three out of four of the deferred-payment settlers. Reduce the payments to nearly one-fourth of the amount, and there would be no struggle at all, but with fresh energy and power left for making improvements.
There would be no objection, probably, to a Bill which repealed nothing, but gave Government power, if it thought fit to use it, of applying the leasing system under certain conditions. The agricultural lease system in a crude form has been enacted in the Mines Act, and in Nelson and in Otago small areas may be leased. The Legislature has never been unwilling to countenance experimental legislation in settlement where a due regard has been paid to vested interests. What country in the world can show the same variety and diversity of systems for promoting the occupation of land as New Zealand? Yet one more has never frightened our legislators, but rather has been accepted as an additional means for accomplishing the end in view. The Bill need not cover much paper, nor be encumbered with details. We would leave a large power of making regulations with the Ministry; and however objectionable the principle may be, in the initiation of a new system it is not wise to attempt to define every detail for any contingency that might possibly arise.
In passing on to the notice of reserves and endowments, we may at once lay down the principle that no reserve or endowment should be alienable, unless specifically made so in each case for special reasons by an Act of the Assembly. There was nothing to justify the legislation of 1880, by which a general power was given in the High Schools Reserves Act to dispose of endowments. But we go much further, in considering how to preserve the national estate, and think that no endowments should be alienable under any circumstances whatever. The land-grant system in connection with railways is indefensible, and should be repealed as speedily as possible—a sound reason probably being found in the way the land has been disposed of in the case of the line lately authorised under the Railways Construction Act When endowments are given for such objects as harbours, they should not be accompanied by a power of sale. Fresh reserves ought to be set aside for the endowment of local bodies, for forest purposes, for charitable institutions, and so forth, to be made inalienable, and subject to the general law for leasing and occupation. It may be said that if the land is nationalized there will be no necessity for reserves and endowments, except in the form of the appropriation of the rents. This is true, but it must be seen that the more (inalienable) reserves are made the sooner the final result of nationalization will be accomplished. The battle is one against time. Every acre alienated is so much ground lost Our first duty is to conserve; the more remote being to perfect the regulations. We have a moral right to use every prejudice, page 13 every tendency of the popular or legislative mind, to assist us in the work. To save the land from alienation is to save a great principle from defeat, and the operations against the enemies of that principle must be as widely extended as they are vigorously directed.
Subject to Ministerial veto, all Crown land and endowments ought to be administered locally and by one body. This body would be a reformed Land Board—a transformed Waste Lands Board. The nominee element might be supplemented by the mayors of municipalities, and the chairmen of county councils, by virtue of their office. The Board might thus become a popular body through the wide representation by the ratepayers of town and country. If the chairmen of county councils were elected direct by the ratepayers and the single vote, nothing would be left to make the Board thoroughly representative of the people whose interests were entrusted to its charge. This body, if so constituted, would exercise great authority, and the veto would not he likely to be put in force except for reasons which could be defended in the face of the country. The first thing to be done would be to place the control of all public endowments under the Board, with the right of delegating the management in particular instances to some still more localised body. Every land endowment has a twofold character—the support of the institution endowed, and the proper use of the land. What will justify, for instance, the control of hundreds of thousands of acres of a land endowment being vested in a University Council? The function of such a council is to appropriate the proceeds to education, but hardly to ensure by equitable arrangements that the tenants are placed on a "live-and-let-live" basis. The only (perhaps adequate) justification of corporate endowments is that they are managed by some person or body responsible to those who are in beneficial occupation, and to the community at large. If this principle had been observed in the case of the Irish estates by the London companies, one strong reason for their expropriation would not have existed.
If these reforms are steadily pressed forward by the Liberal party, of the 32 million acres of Crown land and the estimated three million acres of reserves and endowments, there ought not to be more than a million acres from this time forth alienated before the people of the Colony shall have been taught to guard the land as the property of the State and the endowment of posterity—before, in a word, the principle of the nationalization of the land shall have become not only the policy of a great party, but the chief corner stone of the constitution.
Note—We have estimated the area of Crown land at 32 million acres The Secretary of Crown Lands, in his report for 1881, put it down at 34 million acres, distributed as follows: 12½ millions on pastoral lease, 12½ millions chiefly under forest, and 9 millions worthless for settlement, consisting of barren mountain tops and lakes.
Nationalisation of the Land.
A Native Land Policy.
[Dnnedin "Echo," May 6, 1882.]
A Possible Native land policy is one which will obtain the assent of the more intelligent of the Natives on the one hand, and not be opposed by the force of colonial opinion on the other. Since the year 1876 various parties in the Assembly have attempted legislation by which the Colony might control the disposal or sale of Native land; but all attempts of the kind have failed, from Sir Julius Vogel's partnership idea down to Mr. Bryce's effort to bring the Natives and their land under the dominion of the Waste Land Boards. In not one of these proposals were the Natives consulted, nor did any of them meet with a favourable reception from the Native members of the Legislature. Those who were most interested in having their lands properly dealt with could, rightly or wrongly, see nothing in the proposals but a device to do them wrong. The small and compact body who have made Native land buying their profession were equally hostile; for, though the proposed legislation was crude and unstatesmanlike, it would have effectually disposed of the Native land-shark. But last session something more successful was actually accomplished. The Thermal Springs Act gives the Governor power to lease land on behalf of the Natives who have first leased it to the Government. The sale of the Township of Rotorua is a result. Then the West Coast Reserves Leasing Act vests the disposal by way of lease of no less than a quarter of a million acres of land, estimated by the Native Commission to be worth upwards of £600,000, in the Public Trustee, acting through a resident trustee. In these Acts the Natives are debarred from selling except to the Government. It was remarkable that when one of the Bills was passing through Committee, and when the question was raised as to the power of the Natives to sell to others than the Government, the Native members rose one after another and urged in emphatic language that only the power of leasing should be given.
But as both of the measures were passed to meet exceptional circumstances, it cannot be imagined that the Government would be allowed to step in to-morrow, or next year, and deal with the entire Native estate on the same principle. Yet the system is susceptible of extension. The whole of the Native reserves were to have come under a Bill, which want of time only prevented from becoming law last session. What is a Native reserve? The answer is best given in another question. page 15 What should not he a Native reserve in land leased directly by its Native owners? The best reason for bringing all Native leases under regulations provided to insure a spirit of equity in dealings of the kind, is, that the grossest abuses are continually taking place. A lease is obtained at a peppercorn rent for 21 years. When half the time is expired, the lessee desires a renewal to give him another 21 years' lease. How does he proceed? By small advances among the more influential owners; pressure for repayment; and when they have been properly cultivated, he offers a lump sum down for the new lease, agreeing to wipe out the advance which he has thus used as a lure. The plan is generally successful, and, while Maori nature endures, virtual perpetuities and great fortunes will thus be built up. It is for such a result "ground bait" is so plentifully distributed to obtain even a lease, for if the fee simple cannot be secured by watching and waiting, the renewals will bring the reward. It would not only be sound policy therefore to bring all leased land under general regulations and the control of a department, but it would be a necessary measure of protection against unfair dealing. Whatever may be said to the contrary, it is beyond doubt that the Native is in many respects an infant needing a guardian.
The Parliamentary returns show that the Government had advanced money on, and issued the "proclamation" over, several million acres of land, which is to be abandoned if only the advances can be brought back into the Treasury. We would try to lease this land, if there is not money available for the purchase, and re-lease it in suitable areas—in areas more conducive to the prosperity of the Colony than the Murimotu Block. Otherwise the Native might be allowed to lease direct, if the advances remaining a charge against the rent were spread equally and progressively over the term. In either way the difficulty would be solved. But no member calling himself a Liberal ought to permit a Minister to arrange terms with a land ring on the weak pretence of getting back the advances, as was done in the case of the Patetere Block. Forest reserves should be proclaimed, to be used for the benefit of the Natives on the same principle as under the Thermal Springs Act. What would probably be permitted without a protest in the first instance would be the simple proclamation forbidding the sale of any particular block of forest laud. All else would be a question of mutual arrangement. Where the Natives desired a tract of country to be declared inalienable by sale, there ought to be a power by law to grant the request. It appears that Rewi, if not Tawhiao, would welcome a law which would prevent needy and unscrupulous members of their tribes from parting with portions of the tribal lands. And it is important here to note that the demand for the individualization of the Native title is not the unselfish statesmanlike proposal which may be supposed. page 16 Nothing is more really instructive in politics than to hear the present Premier and Attorney-General dwell on the advantages of individualizing the title. We know what it means, and will now venture to submit a qualification which this politician will not accept—namely, that individualization of title is wise and fruitful of good results only when the Government is the sole purchaser. History will not justify the Waitara war; and true statesmanship will not sanction a practice which places the tribe at the mercy of its worst and most irresponsible members.
We come to consider the question of alienation in its broader aspect. To achieve the great end of having all Native lands leased instead of sold, it is essential that the Natives should go heart and hand with the Government. We have referred to a disposition among the Natives in favour of leasing, which we believe to be very general and deeply rooted. Would they agree to a positive enactment that in future none of their land should be sold? Would such a piece of legislation have any chance of passing? The Waste Lands Board scheme met with the united opposition of the Native members, who did not understand it, and were suspicious. The secret of their assent rests in giving the Natives themselves a large measure of local governmental control. A Native member brought down last session a Bill for the establishment of local Native Committees. The measure was admirably adapted to the wants of his people, and to protect them from many flagrant abuses. In this simple piece of machinery there is the means of securing a more just and beneficial administration of Native land, and at the same time of educating the Maoris in the art of regulating their own local affairs. If a Committee were empowered to lease, not sell, the land of the tribe it represented, it is certain the leasing system would immediately be accepted. Fair terms would be obtained for the land, and we believe it would be disposed of in areas proportionate to the quality and the distance from market. One enormous advantage would be gained: the present debasing, dishonest system of bribing individual Natives to sell, and then using these as decoy ducks for their more intractable compatriots, would be swept away at a single stroke. On the lowest ground, there could not be inflicted a greater disgrace on modern civilisation than does the existing system of inducing the Native to part with his land.
The Native has become by our proposal the landlord, with the right of sale limited to the State. We will suppose that the State considers it to be its duty to nationalize the land from time to time, as the owners are willing to sell—the process is simple, and would not be tardy. Individuals could not injure the tribe when the land was dealt with by a representative body; and as the necessities of many of them would continually be outrunning their income, urging them to sell their portions, they would be adequately protected by converting say half the page 17 purchase-money into stock, to be held by the Public Trustee for their benefit. In this way the work of nationalization would go steadily on. No foreign loans would be required, and there would be no charge on the Treasury, as debentures could be issued from time to time to meet the demand, bearing an interest corresponding with the amount of the rent. If a policy were framed on these lines, we think the welfare of the Natives would be combined with the best interests of the colonists. It is a policy which would be realisable without a large expenditure of political effort, and its value is measurable by what it would go far to accomplish—the nationalization, within a short period in the history of a country, of sixteen million acres of land.
Nationalization of the Land.
Resumption of Private Land.
["Dunedin Echo," June 3, 1882.]
"An individual never gives in present money, for a remote profit, anything like what that profit is worth to the State, which is immortal."—John Stuart Mill.
We have not space here to review the many devices for the resumption of private land by the State which have been suggested by writers on the subject. Suffice it to say that we view every proposal which has the effect of reducing the present value of property as untenable from a moral point of view. That is to say, the State has no right to benefit itself without a fair and equivalent compensation being made to those who are asked to part with something they legally call their own. The appropriation of rent is direct confiscation. The resumption without payment at the end of a certain period is no less confiscation in principle, though it may differ greatly in degree. The appropriation of the unearned increment is defensible, on the ground that the State has the moral right to declare that no person in future shall be entitled to property which others, not the person, may earn.
A finer question is involved here. It is said that when a man has purchased his property he purchases the unearned increment for ever. We are not aware that Mill has met this objection; but it appears to us that the reply is, that the State has always reserved to itself the right of readjusting taxation from time to time, in accordance with the capacity of the different classes and members of the community to contribute. page 18 The unearned increment is a question of taxation. If a class enjoy exceptional privileges, it is called upon, under a system of abstract justice, to contribute more than do those classes which are not in the enjoyment of those privileges.
We do not, however, think the appropriation of the unearned increment would be free from the charge of confiscation, or be the best way of proceeding. Indeed, we see great objections to the mixing up of the question of taxation with the question of nationalizing the land. Many prejudices will be avoided if the two objects are pursued independently. A progressive tax on land, for instance, can be justified by the theory of an unearned increment and exceptional privilege. The resumption of private land—though there is a connection—is very different from the question of the equation of burthens. In the quotation from Mill, at the head of this article, will probably be found the key to the solution of the problem.
When will the time come for resumption? How should we proceed? Public opinion will be ripe for action when pressure begins to be felt for land by those anxious to occupy and cultivate. This time will be hastened by an equitable leasing system applied to the Crown lands; and it is safe to predict that in less than ten years, with the protection of improvements inducing people to lease agricultural areas, a demand will have gone forth for the expropriation of the very large freeholds, simply because all other land will have passed into industrial hands. The principle of expropriation will be carried when the Crown (and Native) land has been leased; and a just leasing system will be the lever by which the deadweight of centuries of prejudice may be removed. The carrying of the last rampart is therefore not very remote, and the citadel must surrender at discretion when the besiegers have command of the town.
The expediency of resumption follows from the principle stated by Mill, that the State, being immortal, can look for a remote profit by purchasing at present values. That is all. When the State wants the land, it can afford to give market price for it, just as it gives market price for the land it requires for railways; and no one has a right to complain when he receives an equivalent value for what he has parted with. It might be expedient to begin by giving the right to re-purchase any estate above 10,000 acres in extent, in those parts of the Colony where the capacity to occupy land was greatest. The usual plan of arbitration would be available to decide disputes. We think it would be found advisable to postpone compulsory expropriation, if sufficient land within the limits laid down could be obtained by purchase in the open market.
These limits might be of a financial character. The department, we will suppose, started with a capital of half a million. As the land was acquired it would be leased, at a rental, say of 5 per cent, on the capital value; a reservation existing that at page 19 no time should more than half a million be advanced to the department in excess of that producing the standard rate of interest. Thus, if 20 millions were lent to the purchase department, 19½ millions, at least, would represent land yielding a rental equal to 5 per cent, on the amount. In this limitation would exist the safety-valve, as the absence of it led to so many improper investments in Native land by the Crown during the last ten years. The net result would at any time show whether the purchases were judicious, by the infallible criterion of persons being willing to lease at a rental equal to a low interest on the capital value.
We think it scarcely necessary to deal at any length with the question of the Colony being able to borrow the necessary amount of capital. Fortunately the modern institution of international honesty, termed "credit," has undergone without slight disturbance for a century or so a very constant development, until the loanable capital of the world has increased beyond the demand, except at a rate of interest tending from 3 per cent., on the best securities, downwards. Our Colonial standard of honesty, ability, and discretion is fixed at about 5 per cent, when we want to borrow, or about per cent, when we have got what we want, and have given a guarantee not to disturb the speculators for a time certain. We will take the very lowest ground, in supposing we pledged the rents of the Crown lands, and ask, would Lombard Street or Wall Street seek for better security? But we do not think the Colonial credit would stand so low, when the ability was shown in the economic rents of a large body of agricultural tenants, equal to the interest on the required capital. Before long, the Colonial market will be able to subscribe small loans, when the Government might get what it wanted, but at any rate if the Colony has the security and credit to offer, the money will not be withheld.
It is not our object here to demonstrate the amount of prosperity which would be created in so many ways by the nationalization of private land. It is a wide question. One consideration only shall we allude to. The private capital released, in all probability, would not leave the Colony, but be transferred to other industries. Even in the case of absentees, it is not unlikely it would return to find employment in the country where on a given area the number of producers had been so greatly increased, and where credit and capacity went hand in hand. If the Liberal party desire a national policy on which it might with confidence stake its future prosperity and position, we know of none which affords the same scope, or which would yield such splendid results as the nationalization of the land.
Note.—Since we began to write on the subject, an important advance has been made in the direction we indicated, as will be seen from a passage in the Governor's speech at the opening of the General Assembly, in which the principle of leasing is to be applied to some blocks of agricultural land.