Wellington, N.Z. M'kee and Gamble, Printers by Electric Power.1894.
Land legislation and settlement cannot, unaided, be the means of bringing about a complete reform in the matter of Labour, but they are a necessary means to that end among all the suggested remedies, none have held so honoured a place as that now under consideration. Land settlement is locked to by the people as a whole, and by their political leaders, as the best way of preventing land monopoly, and as the best way of increasing our exports. It is hoped, also, that many of the present unemployed will find profitable work on the land "Get the people on the land" has become the leading motto of the Liberal party in this Colony, and with good reals: for it is perhaps the most effective method, within reasonable practicability and reach, of relieving the unemployed, and it is also necessary to the enlargement of industry. We should ever make the most of such weapons of reform nearest our grasp; and, besides, if something is not done forthwith to moderate the not decreasing depression of trade and labour, the consequences must be very serious indeed. Immediate steps need to be taken to avert the threatening evil. What is required is some immediate relief. At the same time care must be taken, in land matters at least, that while the method of relief is made effective in the immediate future, it will not by-and-by undo its own work, and, when, possible, it should be made of perpetual benefit to all classes of the community. To spend our time dreaming of or advocating some far away "Utopia," is not calculated to satisfy the needy of to-day, nor yet even to bring about a future "Utopia" of the right colour. In promulgating imaginative far-fetched, though perhaps possible, schemes, we only drive to the opposite extreme men of more conservative ideas. It is not at all desirable to create a wide-spread impression that the social and political agitation now a-foot is the child of "faddist" beliefs. We should endeavour to command the earnest and thoughtful consideration of the majority of men and women by advocating measures of a more moderate kind. It is easy some persons to see the force of some brilliant, revolutionary scheme, such as Bellamy's, but not so easy for them page 4 to induce others of a more ordinary caste of mind to see that scheme in the same favourable light. Every man's ideas and opinions are, from his own stand-point, consistent with one another, and may form together a harmonious whole; but no person's system of ideas and opinions is really the same through out as the system of any other person in existence. To attempt, therefore, to induce another to accept en bloc my way of thinking with regard to a social scheme is, in the nature of things preposterous. When we cannot obtain a yard of conviction, let us, in discretion, accept a foot only. This is, in the end, the surest and speediest way of promoting great reforms and it does not make minor measures for immediate purposes so hard to effect.
In pursuance of these suggestions, then, let us go ahead on the Land-Labour matter. Agitation is much relied on by many as the stepping-stone of Reform. And we must extensively agitate in order to accomplish anything. The people's attention must be drawn to an existing evil in order to rouse their indignation against it; the evil must be published before the remedy can be even thought of in the public mind. Conviction of the evil must be secured. Then the method of reform most to the mind of the would-be reformer must be fully submitted and supported. Organisation of believers must be made, and the proposed scheme or measure, in the form most acceptable to all its advocates, further agitated. It is noteworthy that on the Opposition side of our House of Parliament are to be found men who are now admitting the need of legislative enactments to mitigate evils the existence of which they once denied. How is this? Simply because their minds have been exercised and stimulated to enquiry by the agitation so persistently made with regard to such evils. Many movements, once to all appearances hopeless, have finally triumphed as the outcome of persevering agitation. Further, it often happens that when a man advocates something not really practicable or desirable further light is brought to bear upon his mind through the criticism he encounters, and he either mends his scheme or renounces it, and the upshot is an educational advancement of all concerned. Truth will out at last, and whether attempts to eradicate wrongs and evils be to the point, or otherwise, or practical or impractical, something will, sooner or later, be accomplished directly or indirectly. There lies, however, in sound, practical moderate measure agitation a greater power than in such agitation as is otherwise, for it operates sooner, and without minor loss of any kind, and forms a basis for further operation Revolutionary measures must involve much friction between parts of the social machinery before these are once more set in going order. Therefore revolutionary measures, as sudden changes of an elaborate nature, are to be avoided as far as page 5 possible. Great reforms are quite necessary, but it were madness to attempt to complete everything in a day. Patching up the worn-out duplicates of the machine cannot long suffice, nor yet will their individual renewal, but we are, in many instances, wise in resorting to either or both of these devices. If by amending the Statutes we can effect a satisfactory improvement, that is all we need resort to. When this cannot be done we must replace the Statutes one by one, or a few at a time, and, if this suffice not, the whole constitution must be re-organised. I do not think this last resort at all necessary with regard to the constitution of the land laws of the Colony; there may be Statutes worthy of abolition and replacement, and certainly there are some that sorely need alteration or amendment.
Having thus given a rough index of the principal rules governing me in this essay, I will give a few ideas springing from the question—What amount of land is required to satisfy the wants of the people? Of course, if the Government had the requisite funds it would be well to throw open for settlement not only enough to absorb our surplus labour, but also to invite small capitalists from abroad to settle, and so promote industry, and, by increasing our exports, increase our income. But this is rather too much to expect at one gulp. Instead it were well to be satisfied with a small area of land, not enough to embarass the Treasury in the matter of purchase money, but enough to find employment for those in actual need. It will be found more expeditious in point of time to throw open for settlement only a limited area, for, in that case, the necessary Bill will find a quicker passage to the Statute Book. Having once done this, a way for further legislation will be left open. Moreover, if only the larger portion of the unemployed found, in this way, land enough to accommodate them, that would prove an advantage, in some degree, to the residue also. It were folly, therefore, to insist upon the passage of a very comprehensive measure unless is promised to speedily get into operation.
Certainly, it seems evident that the progress of land settlement must need to be great to keep pace with the constant creation, through various reasons, of unemployed. Of course, this will largely depend upon the probable influx of destitute aliens for, if such influx assume large proportions, it must be met with increased facility for settlement, in order that our own unemployed may be reached. Very likely is it that when it is know abroad that the unemployed here have been duly assisted, numbers of destitute aliens will find their way to New Zealand. To legislate with a view of preventing this immigration may not be easy, as retaliatory measures may be resorted to by other States.
I have said, or implied, rather, that there will be a constant creation of unemployed within the Colony. Increase of popu- page 6 lation, without foreign acceleration, must constantly go on This country is not, like Britain, a workshop for others, but rather depends for subsistence upon the production of the soil So that to find employment for all increased facilities for such production must be afforded. If these facilities are not given the overplus of population must emigrate or starve. If we could be reconciled to such an idea it were hardly possible that an emigration should take place. The barriers that even now check the settlement of the land are not, on the whole, greater than those in other countries, and are never likely to be, so that when we remember that in this country we have natural resources, chiefly of the soil, as great as that of any land, we are never likely to witness an extensive emigration. Therefore to prevent the other thing—viz., starvation—coming to pass we must obtain facilities for land settlement equal to the constant increase of population.
As has been already hinted, the Government have not sufficient Crown land available for either immediate or future purposes; therefore it must be acquired from the owners of estates larger than is sufficient for them. I refer to unworked, that is to say uncultivated and ungrassed, estates, ranging in area from seventy thousand acres downwards. There has never arisen so great need of Government acquiring land for settlement if such owners had been willing to sub-divide and lease portions of their suitable land, at a reasonable rental, to less fortunate people. In cases where land-kings have been con strained to offer sections for lease or for purchase, it has been at such a rental, or on such terms, as to preclude any probability of the lessee or buyer making the term of his occupation exceed a few seasons. In most cases, where men have taken up land from these owners, and have spent such capital as they possessed on improvements and so on, they have failed to corn ply with the exorbitant terms and have come out penniless. In view of this dearth of available land, the Stout-Vogel Government formed Village Homestead Settlements, and I will mention a settlement of this kind in Canterbury, where men with families were dependent on fifty acres each of inferior land while within half a mile of their boundaries lay valuable agricultural land, belonging to a very large estate, locked up, the owner refusing to part with it at a reasonable price.
There is no need for me to cite any further facts to show that almost all the land in the Colony suitable for settlement is in the hands of large owners who will not part with it. These things are too well known to call for anything more than a mere reminder to my readers.
The people cannot obtain for themselves from the land king the land they require, so the State has been appealed to, But we find that the land-king is just as reluctant to sell at a page 7 reasonable price to the Government as he is to sell to private individuals. There is at present no law to compel the sale at true valuation, and until such a law is made nothing in the way of settlement can be done. And there is now under consideration of the Legislature a Bill providing for compulsory sale at a fair valuation. It is this principle that I am prepared to support. With the details of the Bill, such details at least as do not interfere with the principle, I will not interfere.
Many intelligent liberal-minded persons, though in full sympathy with the landless thousands, and fully aware of the moral mistakes of the pioneer rulers in selling the land in the first instance, have opposed this radical measure on the ground that it is unjustifiable confiscation. If it be a bona fide confiscation, it is certainly a breach of the moral law, and a breach of the moral law must not be made. No amount of wrong inflicted by the landholder upon the people can justify the latter in a breach of the moral law, as in confiscation. But I am satisfied that in the principle I support there is no such confiscation, and, therefore, no such breach. The proposed enforced sale is-strictly of an honourable character. When the original owner bought the estate he did not buy, I presume, exclusion from the operation of land laws of a Constitution granted by the Queen before his time. Probably he did not count upon the land being forcibly recovered subsequently, and expected to keep it for ever—that may have been due to his want of fore-sight or else due to mere accident. It is certain that our pioneer authorities did not sell him the right to absolute monarchy within the borders of the land prescribed, although they certainly did not anticipate the principle of compulsory sale becoming absolute law. The State, on parting with the title-deed certainly did not part with land-law jurisdiction within the estate; both existing and subsequent jurisdiction were reserved to the State. The question, therefore, is—Does, jurisdiction, belonging to the State, include a possible compulsory sale clause? Seeing that State rights existed before any such freehold was purchased, we have only to show that the aforesaid clause may be included in the State rights and jurisdiction to show that it is valid. If it be shown, then, that the State sold the right of sole occupation to the freeholder without limitation of time, the State took a price for a something which, in the event of the State subsequently assuming all rights and jurisdiction, he could not possess. In this case the blame belongs to the State that was. Either the State blundered in parting with the title deed, or is blundering in asserting the light of re-purchase. It may be seen, however, that as the State is a possible blunderer, we must go to a higher Court. We have been considering the matter on the ground of Constitutional right; what about Moral right?page 8
The British Constitution, parent of ours, is supposed to be founded upon the Moral Law of Scripture. That moral law gives possession of the ground to the people, and if the State give a title deed of land to any one person the State in such an instance cannot be, in the true sense, identical with the people. So the State or Government of the day sold property virtually stolen from the people. There is in force a law which provide that any person receiving stolen property must surrender the same without compensation; according to my argument, therefore, the landbuyer is in this position. It is easy to think that the Government of early times, influenced as it was by land rings, etc., and elected by a community without manhood suff. rage, did not properly represent the people. So I conclude that the People, now that they have a Government of their own making, can dispose of the land as they think proper. They have the right to resume the inheritance so long usurped. Nevertheless, to avoid a possible injustice, the present possessors of the land should receive a reasonable value for it. Undoubtedly, great wrong has been inflicted upon the people by land monopolists. Whether the oppression has always been of a wilful, guilty nature is not my affair. But, be it intentional or otherwise, it is right that I should utter a protest against the unwarranted rancour shown by many of the labour class, especially Unionists, towards oppressive land monopolists and taskmasters. No amount of revenge will undo the evil wrought by the latter. Bona fide self-defence let any class resort to, but revenge is far worse than useless. Our duty is to guard against any future repetition of class oppression and to forgive the past.
Having affirmed the principle of compulsory sale, let us consider the principle of the proposed manner of administration of the land acquired. One matter of importance, in the matter of labour, is the size or area of the allotments. The holdings should be of the right average area to absorb most labour. The smaller the area, the greater, in proportion, will be the amount of labour expended thereon. If the holdings be small, less area of land, collectively speaking, will be required for settlement, and the State outlay therefore smaller. What is wanted is that the way of laying out money in land settlement be one calculated to help the greatest possible number of people with the least outlay. In other words, the work of settlement must be made as economical as can be. There is no fear of the principle on Land lie-purchase being rejected by the Legislature while the proposed expenditue is moderate, but let any proposal for a big loan be advanced, and the principle is at once in danger. Men versed in matters of Colonial finance are far from ready to see the Colony's finance embarrassed by extensive borrowing and lavish expenditure. Although in the re-purchase and settlement of the Cheviot Estate we have seen proved the common sense page 9 of the whole thing, it wall be as well to proceed with settlement step by step, so that each block of land settled will make a valuable object-lesson for future guidance—for we shall never be done learning in this department. Let the holdings be as small as will allow of them supporting the owner in a comfortable fashion.
It will certainly be well to considerably vary the size of allotments to meet the requirements of all. Some there are—bona fide settlers—in possession of considerable capital, either in cash or in agricultural plant, or in stock, or in all of these—old settlers, for instance—whose leases have run out, or new ones anxious to invest their cash in a rural pursuit—these should be given an opportunity of investing their all in land, as such investment would greatly assist in absorbing labour. In fact it may, perhaps, be the most effective possible way to give work to those unable, for want of funds, to take up a substantial holding for themselves. Beyond the re-purchase value of the land, no expense could possibly devolve on the Government, as such settlers could well stand alone when once settled, and payment of rent would at once commence. And so long as no allotment exceeded the value of a square mile of first-class agricul-cultural land, the proportionate amount of labour absorbed would be almost equal to that absorbed in connection with smaller allotments.
Then, in the case of persons possessing practical knowledge, but little capital if any, holdings in area ranging from fifty acres upwards should be provided. If the terms were made as easy as possible, these men could commence by drawing their living from work done outside, and work their land as they might be able, until, in course of time, their holdings would entirely support them. In the event of an area so small as fifty acres being insufficient, some arrangement might, I think, be made so as to allow men unable, in the first instance, to take up more than that amount to do so afterwards. Settlers might be allowed to dispose of their holdings one to another, the outgoing parties having the option of taking new and larger holdings elsewhere. Undoubtedly, in a settlement where a number of fifty-acre sections joined one another, there would be found some holders ready for a change after a few years' residence, and others anxious to stay and enlarge their properties. In that case, those prepared to go would surrender their leases to Government, receiving a fair valuation for improvements, when the Government could re-lease the allotment to some remaining settler.
This plan will appear more feasible when it is noticed that sections of this area would be readily taken up by single men as well as married ones. Single men are apt to be satisfied with very primitive methods of life, but they are apt, also, to page 10 take a notion to have a complete change, marry and settle down, for instance. In some cases they would be quite ready to take up a larger piece of land elsewhere for a permanent home, which they should have every facility for doing, and then the remaining settlers could be given enlargements.
Then, in a district where a farm and pastoral settlement is formed, much work would be created for men other than farm and pastoral labourers. Roads must be formed and kept in order. Railroad extension may be required. Tradesmen and artizans would have an opening. Houses, bridges, implements, vehicles, etc., would be constructed and kept in order. Goods would need supplying. Contractors for various kinds of work would be wanted. All these would require building sites. Therefore townships would need to be formed. Thus we see what an immense advantage a farm settlement is to the skilled labour class.
Then what form of tenure would be best? Freehold tenure is strongly advocated by some as the best tenure. Its advocates claim that it has advantages possessed by none other. They say that to be happy a man must be able to hold in undisputable and absolute possession a piece of land and a home, so that he can call it his for ever; that in order to be conscious of true British freedom he must be as a little king on his own premises, no man daring to molest him. According to them, any possibility of being ejected from his home is bound to destroy the tranquility of the family circle, to destroy his self, respect and home-pride, to goad his feelings in respect to liberty, etc., etc. Further, it is said if a man cannot be sure that he will himself reap the benefit of all his improvements to his home and land, he will not be disposed to go to the same trouble with them. Also, that by freehold possession alone can be induced that healthy rivalry among property-holders in endeavouring to produce the richest soil, best plant, finest stock, best produce, nicest home, etc., etc. Other argumeets have been adduced, but these are the chief. Now, I think it can be shown that there is no necessity for any man to lose these advantages by foregoing the freehold tenure. For I quite agree that the considerations in favour of freehold just given are in themselves sound. Let liberty, love-of-home, ambition for general improvement and excellence, and so on, have their perfect work, for they are not only for the individual good, but also for the good of the nation as a whole. Individualism in respect of nearly every good quality in personal character is absolutely necessary. Not only is it necessary for his own advancement, social and moral, but it is necessary for the prosperity and independence of the whole nation. National patriotism is but the child of personal qualities. It is owing partly to the fact that the personal traits referred to were found well developed in our race from earliest times, that page 11 Britain is the first among the nations. Lot extreme Socialists take care that nothing in their schemes is calculated to destroy these very desirable and necessary qualities, because they are stronger than Socialism. Socialism must pay due respect to these, and these will then pay due respect to Socialism.
But, then, what of all the abuse inseparable from the freehold tenure? Not only in cases where immense tracts of land have been acquired in a single block at quite a nominal price, but also in instances where several moderate-sized blocks have been taken up by different parties, and in the end have become the possession of one person, has there been abuse. In the matter of land possession, almost unlimited power in the hands of one man, or in the hands of a few men, has wrought very great mischief. Like the absolute monarchs that have governed various nations of the earth, neither wisdom nor justice have marked their sway. Apart from the political power commonly held by rings of land-kings, each of these had within the precincts of his estate sufficient freedom to make the lot of the working-man anything but prosperous if he chose. This he often did by simply refraining from doing more than stocking his run, when he could produce immense quantities of wool, etc., with very little labour. This kind of thing prevailing throughout the country, soon began to create a serious want of employment. Had run holders, as a general rule, improved or worked their land by cultivating or grassing, plenty of work had ever been obtainable, and the Colony's wealth been greatly increased. But the Almighty Dollar seems to have been the strongest motive of many. By running stock they have obtained rich returns, and were content. Further, the money so obtained, when used at all for works of improvement, or in enterprises of any kind within the Colony, was, in general, injudiciously squandered. Many of the pioneer squatters ruined themselves through rash enterprises and extravagant schemes, while the lot of the labourer was not permanently bettered in consequence, at least not so much improved as it might have been under more economical management. Had these squatters been more prudent, and refraining from laying out all their capital at once, expended it on remunerative, productive improvements to the fullest extent, increasing the wealth-producing capacity of their estates, and treating much more work at a fair wage, much greater would have been the assistance given to the working man. Too often, however, fanciful enterprises and pet schemes of a comparatively useless nature were the order of the day; men were paid handsome wages for as much or as little work as they cared to do; and the money they so easily obtained soon found its way to the till of the nearest "pub," or to the nearest" spieler's" pocket; and by-and-by we find that these men are caught by bad times in a homeless, landless, penniless condition, broken- page 12 down in health, and generally wrecked. This is one aspect of the evil—large freeholds—now for another.
We come now to the squatters, or squatter companies, of the true monopolist, miser type. What has large possessions in land enabled them to do? They have drawn upon the country's resources and either hoarded up the cash, or sent it abroad. English capitalists and syndicates are well posted up on this matter also. Absentee landlords and mortgagors have drawn wealth from the Colony. Pioneer squatters of the aforementioned imprudent, generous-spending kind have been oft entrapped by these accommodating firms. The hoarding squatter and hoarding firms, resident or absentee, have wrought ruin. While the gold is hoarded the labourer starves.
Moreover, large numbers, if not most, of the smaller freeholder shave become bankrupt at some stage of their career. Mortgages have frequently been taken out to cover, perhaps, a balance of the purchase money, or may be to create a fund for working expenses; but, for whatever purpose, they have mostly been the first step to ultimate ruin. Few men have succeeded in keeping possession of a freehold property throughout a long Colonial experience. Those men that have got on are men that were born to business and saving. In most cases, however, a time of depression has brought the freeholders' affairs to a crisis. Surely this kind of thing is not calculated to stimulate a man's liberty—independence, love of home, personal excellence, etc., etc., or rather to gratify his passion for these things. It was better, if need be, to be beholden to the State than to a mortgagor. And, again, there is nothing to prove that freeholds, if in the future acquired from Government, will remain in the hands of the bona fide settlers who may acquire them. They may fall into the hands of mortgagors, or in some way be collected once more into large estates. Any limitations laid upon purchasers, to prevent this, by Government, must, of necessity, limit the freehold. To be made effective they would be found far more irksome than any obligations that could possibly be laid upon a leaseholder.
But granted that the freehold were the best tenure to be acquired, how can persons in needy circumstances acquire it? And the number of bona fide settlers able to pay cash for a substantial holding is very limited. Thus the freehold tenure will not suit the working man in any shape or form.
Then there is what is styled the deferred-payment system. This system of tenure is little better than freehold made easier of access from a monetary standpoint. It is possible that under this system a man may do well for himself, but once the land is fully paid for he becomes a freeholder, and the remarks already made on the freehold tenure apply here.
Next we come to the tenure styled the occupation-with-right page 13 of-purchase. Like the deferred payment this is easy of access to those without capital, only the rent under this system is lower than the deferred payments. Instead of the purchase money being paid in regular instalments from the outset, as under the deferred-payment system, the holder under this tenure can purchase his holding at the termination of his term of lease or occupation for a lump sum, or he can simply go out. It will be seen that on a person taking up land in this way, he has no assurance that his occupation will be permanent if he has any doubt of the entire amount of the purchase money being available at the end of the term of lease.
Then we have another system, and that is known as the perpetual lease. The principle of this lease, that is the principle of the right of endless possession, was first introduced, I believe, by the Stout-Vogel Government. It allows a lessee to renew his lease as often as he chooses to do so, that is to say, as often as a certain term of years expires, provided he accedes to a fair re-adjustment of rent. Thus on the lease being issued, he becomes, virtually, eternal possessor of the ground prescribed. It has been strenuously opposed by the lovers of the freehold on the ground that personal liberty, home pride, desire to excel, etc., etc., will be restricted under it. Not if the principle of the tenure referred to is properly carried out, will this be the case. The lessee will be quite as free to please himself as to his doings on his holding as a person possessing a freehold. And nobody will be able to usurp his inheritance at any time. I see no reason why anything should arise under this particular tenure to cause his claim to be jumped. Provisions can be made to secure every liberty of the lessee, and to secure a fair periodical re-valuation of the land for renting purposes. It is a well-known fact that, in the event of any freeholder objecting to, and refusing to accede to, the Government valuation of his property for taxing purposes, he is bound to surrender to Government the property for a slight advance in price beyond his own valuation. Thus" we have in force already a principle which says that every holder of land is bound to accede to a State valuation of his land or be deprived of it. Now, the principle in re-valuation for renting purposes is virtually the same as in valuation for taxation purposes. The just and reasonable administration needed in re-valuation for lease is quite practicable in view of the just and reasonable administration that has marked the valuation for taxing. As in the latter case State valuation is necessary to prevent landowners defrauding the State of the full amount of tax money, so in the former it is necessary to prevent lessees defrauding the State of the full amount of rent, which amount in each case would be just and right.page 14
Nothing need be embodied in this system to in any way restrict the settler's liberty to borrowon, or to alter or to dispense with, his actual improvements. If any such restrictions are justifiable in the interests of the people, in the matter of a lessee's improvements, they must be embodied in a separate Act, dealing in a like manner with all private property in land, or in connection with land. Under the leasehold tenure, nothing special, of this nature, is required. If any private money-lender were foolish enough to advance money on a lessee's improvements, beyond their real value, on such improvements being surrendered to him, he might be compelled to either remove them or to accept a price for them from either the Government or the future occupier of the land. But if any such money-lender acted so, he would have himself to blame for any loss sustained, just the same as he might be blameable for a loss on an advance on any other private property. But let him advance a sum well within the real value of the improvements, and he is safe to get a ready buyer, either in the Government or the incoming tenant. The State could always find intending lessees of a holding willing to purchase the improvements as well. In order to provide for the fullest liberty and encouragement of the lessee in making improvements of every possible kind, all enhancement of the value of land, being the result of personal action, should be excluded from the compass of a valuation to determine rent. Careful investigation and good judgment would, therefore, be wanted in the making of such valuation. For it may be observed that, indirectly, a man might use means to enhance the value of his holding, as, for instance, in paying high rates to the local body for roads, etc., in his neighbourhood. In many ways he might improve his position by enhancing, indirectly, the land value, and in this he must be protected and encouraged. On the other hand, any enhancement being the result of the action of the State, and not of local efforts, should be included in the valuation for rent, and the benefit of such action would then be felt by the State itself.
It devolves upon the State to secure the appointment of an expert, competent, discreet, and impartial Board for the put; pose of re-valuation; principles must, as far as possible, be laid down for the guidance of such Board; but all unforeseen circumstances must be considered by the latter. In every case where the conditions of lease shall have been fully complied with, and the valuation of the Board accepted, the land should be leased to the former holder for a further period, no other application being entertained. If it be found necessary, in course of time legislation can be introduced to enable the lessee to will a division of his land, on his decease, among his children, if it seem good to him. Thus the perpetual lease tenure allows the full- page 15 est personal liberty and progress, and of virtually indisputable possession for ever; all that can be claimed for freehold tenure. But by permitting an industrious man to start in life almost without capital it is far superior to its rival. Perpetual revenue may be derived from perpetual leasing of the land—a revenue of a steady character.
There is yet another form of tenure that may fittingly be referred to—it is called the lease-in-perpetuity system. This, in so far as it differs from the pereptual lease, is very defective. When a person has issued to him a lease under this system, he is made eternal owner at a rental fixed from the outset. Should his land decrease in value his rent must become correspondingly high, when he must either submit to the high rent or forfeit his lease. And should the value of the land increase, from causes with which he has had nothing to do, he gains an unearned increment, and defies the State to increase the rental. It may happen that a piece of land be made very valuable, say, for instance, by the rise of a township near by. Under the lease-in-perpetuity system, therefore, great abuses might result. In the interests of the unemployed, and in the interests of the people generally, let us cleave to the principle of Perpetual Lease.
McKee & Gamble, Printers by Electric Power, Wellington.