Davies _ Land Nationalisation

The Key to Social Reform
by A. Emil Davies (1921)


THE land question is the most important item of any programme of national reform, for the land is the key to social reconstruction, but land questions are difficult to follow and are consequently unpopular. If his views were to find expression, the average man, if button- holed by an ardent land reformer, would probably say something like this:

“Yes, I agree that the question of land reform is of enormous importance; you may be right that the only way out of the difficulties that surround us and the only way of reducing the cost of living is to get more out of the land, and that the only way of getting the most out of the land is for the nation to own it; but to prove that to me you have got to do something more than give me a long string of complaints about the present system. If you will tell me very briefly why you think the land should be nationalised, and, above all, will give me some idea of what you really do propose in a practical way, I am prepared to listen to you and form my own opinion afterwards; but I want to know what you really do suggest, how you propose to get the land, how much you propose to pay for it, how the change over will pan out financially, and how you are going to work such a gigantic scheme/’

The following pages have been written for such a reader. The writers have not attempted to set forth in detail the iniquities of the present system of private ownership of land; hundreds of convincing instances of hardship could be given, but these and other aspects of the question have been fully covered by other writers in such books as “The Case for Land Nationalisation” by Joseph Hyder (25. 6d. net, Land Nationalisation Society, 96 Victoria Street, London, S.W.i), “The Land or Revolution ” by R. L. Outhwaite (is. net, Daily Herald, London, E.G.), and “Land and Liberty,” the monthly journal (2d.) issued by the United Committee for the Taxation of Land Values, 11 Tothill Street, London, S.W.1.

If it may be said without disrespect, recent land agitators in this country, from Mr Lloyd George upwards, have been more distinguished for their destructive criticism not to say vituperation than for constructive suggestions; in the present work, therefore, the authors have endeavoured to pay more attention to the constructive than the destructive side of the land question, and seeing that Labour has not yet evolved a definite land policy to be adopted when it comes into power, the boldness of the authors in endeavouring to outline a suitable policy will perhaps be pardoned. The suggestions made are tentative, and all descriptions of criticism (even from fellow land reformers of different opinions!) will be heartily welcomed.

Chapter I Land Nationalisation—The Need For “Increased Production”
Chapter II The Problem of Raw Materials
Chapter III Why all the Land must be Nationalised
Chapter IV Town Versus Country
Chapter V Security of Tenure
Chapter VI An Agricultural Policy Necessary
Chapter VII The Administration of the Land
Chapter VIII “Confiscation!”
Chapter IX The Finance of Land Nationalisation
Chapter X A London Success in Community Ownership
Chapter XI Some Common Objections
Chapter XII Land Settlement Schemes
Chapter XIII The Land and Minerals
Chapter XIV Miscellany

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