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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

How to Deal with Large Estates

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How to Deal with Large Estates.

For the past ten years I have advocated the following scheme for dealing with large estates:—
1st.—Pass an Act of Parliament making it compulsory on large land-owners to subdivide their estates into suitably sized areas, and lease them to suitable tenants for 31 years
2nd.—Create a tribunal to appraise the capital value of the land when the land-tax value is departed from.
3rd.—The Minister of Lands to act as agent between landlord and tenant, guaranteeing to the former the payment of his rent, and to the latter immunity from landlord aggression.
4th.—Compensation for improvements to be given to the tenant at the end of the lease.
5th.—Negotiable debentures, bearing interest at the rate of 5 per cent., to be given to mortgagees who desire to cancel their mortgages.
To relieve the Minister of Lands of any suspicion of partiality, and to provide for the immediate occupation of the land, so that no loss would be sustained in waiting until tenants took it up, the initiatory steps should be taken by the intending settlers in the following manner:—
1st.—Intending tenants to form them-selves into associations to select the land they desire to lease.
2nd.—Having selected the land and deposited with some person authorised to receive it proof that the intending tenants possess sufficient capital to work the land their next step should be to petition the Minister of Lands to act on their behalf.
3rd.—On receipt of such petition the minister would communicate with the owners of the land, and arrange valuation, survey, etc., on behalf of the tenants.
4th.—Choice of selection would be ballotted for by the tenants, and rents regulated according to the value of each holding.
5th.—The land-owner to have the right to select 1000 acres in any part of his estate as a homestead for himself, and no association shall have any right to select any portion of the area so delected.

This scheme secures all the advantages of purchasing land, and involves the State in no serious financial responsibilities, provided that rents are paid in advance. If the compulsory principle is at all resorted to, this is the least objectionable form in which it can be applied. No man can call this confiscation, and, though it may be said that it secures to the land-owner the unearned increment, I am satisfied to let the men of 1925, that is 31 years hence, settle that point. It also provides tenants for the land the moment it is surveyed, and, the initiatory steps being in the hands of the tenants, no one can accuse the Minister of Lands of having favored friends or wreaked vengeance on an opponent.

J. M. Twomey.