Christopher Hatton Turnor.

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LAND PROBLEMS i

& NATIONAL WELFARE
BY CHRISTOPHER TURNOR '



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LAND PROBLEMS AND
NATIONAL WELFARE



LAND PROBLEMS

AND NATIONAL WELFARE
BY CHRISTOPHER TURNOR

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY THE

RIGHT HON. VISCOUNT MILNER,

G.C.B., G.C.M.G., ETC.



LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD
NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY, MCMXL



THT. ANCHOR PRESS, LTD. TIPTREK, ESSEX.



INTRODUCTION

THE author of this book shares with
many thoughtful and public-spirited
men the hope that we may see the
formation of a National Party, which
will cut itself adrift from worn-out political
controversies and shape its course with a single
eye to the general welfare. That fine ideal has
all my sympathy, and yet I find it very difficult
to imagine how it is to be realised in practice.
But if a National Party is out of the question,
there is nevertheless urgent need for a National
Policy, by which I mean a body of political
doctrine, having some basis of principle, some
inner unity, which will take account of all the
great needs of our national life, internal and
external, and propound an orderly and coherent
plan for dealing with them as a whole. Cer-
tainly no such policy will ever be accepted in
its entirety by any political party. But if it
gains an ascendency over the intellect of the
nation, as other systems of political thought
have done in the past, it will influence the
action of all parties, and make them its more
or less conscious, more or less willing instru-



Introduction

has many votaries, while there are not lacking
^,'ood judges who disbelieve impartially in both.
And it is not only over the main lines of policy
that controversy rages, but over the many sub-
sidiary developments, some of which are cer-
tainly necessary to make any policy a success —
Co-operation, Credit Banks, the cheapening of
Transport, the elimination of the middle-man,
a better system of rural Education. All these,
not to mention the burning question of Free
Imports, are subjects of incessant debate. Yet
the combatants have at least this in common,
and it is no small matter, that they realize the
need of turning the soil of the country to better
account and of increasing the number of people
engaged in its cultivation. That the land of
these islands is under-cultivated, and that one of
the chief causes of its being under-cultivated is
that it is under-peopled — these two propositions
at least are common to agricultural reformers
of every school. The recognition of these two
facts and the conviction of their immense im-
portance have been slow in permeating a nation
so preponderantly absorbed in urban pursuits
and interests. But they are gaining ground
now every day, and bid fair to shatter the self-
complacency, with which we have been in the
habit of regarding our lop-sided economic
development.

viii



Introduction

This new attitude of the public mind is
calculated to ensure a fair hearing to those who
are anxious to urge the needs and the claims
of agriculture. Hitherto they have often found
themselves preaching to deaf ears, but now
they can count on a large measure of sym-
pathetic attention. The gospel of rural life,
as preached, for instance, by Sir Horace Plunkett
in his brilliant essay on the Rural Life Problem
in America, has an interest and an attraction for
English readers which it would certainly not have
had twenty years ago. And so I venture to
think that the present book, which deals from a
different point of view with the same absorbing
problem, is timely in its publication. I am not
concerned to endorse all the opinions of the
writer. But I feel the greatest sympathy with
his main object and with the spirit of his enquiry.
He is a landowner who combines with a practi-
cal knowledge of agriculture a high sense of the
duties of his position, and, what is perhaps more
uncommon, a keen sympathy with the farmer
and the labourer. He realises the solidarity of
interest between men of all classes who live on
and by the land, and his aim is to point out
what they collectively owe to the country, and
what consideration is due to them in return.
If I am right in thinking that the subject, with
which he deals, occupies, as it certainly deserves,

ix



Introduction

a foremost place among questions of public
interest, then the experience and the opinions
of a man of his position and his liberality of
mind cannot fail to be of value to all those who
arc earnestly seeking for the foundations of a
National Policy.

MILNER.

Sturry Court,
Kent.



A



PREFACE

T the very beginning of this book I
must pay a humble tribute to Prince
Kropotkin, that great man who has
given so much thought to land and
land problems. It was his work, " Fields,
Factories, and Workshops," that first aroused
my interest in land, and in the study of the
productiveness of the soil and the possible yields
of foodstuff per acre.

Scientific interest in the land is sadly lacking
in England, and a "land tradition" is practically
non-existent. Never in the history of our country
has there been such need as now for a land
tradition which would tend to make land
recognised as the greatest national asset, and
the land problem as the one problem that
lies at the root of all social reform. Not only
do we need a public opinion keenly interested in
land ; it is equally necessary that those depen-
dent, wholly or in part, on urban industries shall
be brought to realise, and to realise to the full,
that it is essential for their own benefit that they
spare no effort, however costly, to encourage agri-
culture. Then, and not till then, will our great
rural industry receive the consideration it deserves.

xi



Preface

If this book serves to arouse the interest of
even a few of my readers in Land Problems, and
induces them to study these problems for them-
selves, I shall feel that my effort has not been
in vain.

While correcting this work for the press I
came across the Report, lately published, of the
Country Life Commission appointed by Mr.
Roosevelt during his presidency. Though
dealing entirely with America the conclusions
of the Commission are applicable in so striking
a degree to our own conditions that I quote a
few paragraphs from the Report, as they form
an excellent preface to the whole subject of
Rural Development.

** The underlying problem is to develop and
maintain on our farms a civilization in full
harmony with the best American ideals. To
build up and retain this civilization means, first
of all, that the business of agriculture must be
made to yield a reasonable return to those who
follow it intelligently, and life on the farm must
be made permanently satisfying to intelligent,
progressive people. The work before us, there-
fore, is nothing more nor less than the gradual
re-building of a new agriculture and new rural
life. We regard it as absolutely essential that
this great general work should be understood by
all the people. Separate difficulties, important
as they are, must be studied and worked out in

xii



Preface

the light of the greater fundamental problem.

The commission has pointed out a number of
remedies that are extremely important ; but
running through all of these remedies are several
great forces, or principles, which must be utilized
in the endeavour to solve the problems of
country life. All the people should recognise
what those fundamental forces and agencies are.

Knowledge. — To improve any situation the
underlying facts must be understood. The
farmer must have exact knowledge of his busi-
ness and of the particular conditions under
which he works. The United States Depart-
ment of Agriculture and the experiment stations
and colleges are rapidly acquiring and distribut-
ing this knowledge ; but the farmer may not be
able to apply it to the best advantage, because
of lack of knowledge of his own soils, climate,
animal and plant diseases, markets, and other
local facts. The farmer is entitled to know
what are the advantages and disadvantages of
his conditions and environment. A thorough-
going system of surveys in detail of the exact
conditions underlying farming in every locality
is now an indispensable need to complete and
apply the work of the great agricultural in-
stitutions. As an occupation, agriculture is a
means of developing our internal resources ; we
cannot develop these resources until we know
exactly what they are,

xiii



Preface

Education. — There must be not only a fuller
scheme of public education, but a new kind of
education adapted to the real needs of the farm-
ing people. The country schools are to be so
redirected that they shall educate their pupils
in terms of the daily life. Opportunities for
training toward agricultural callings are to be
multiplied and made broadly effective. Every
person on the land, old or young, in school or
out of school, educated or illiterate, must have
a chance to receive the information necessary
for a successful business and for a healthy,
comfortable, resourceful life, both in home and
neighbourhood. This means redoubled efforts
for better country schools, and a vastly in-
creased interest in the welfare of country boys
and girls on the part of those who pay the
school taxes. Education by means of agriculture
is to be a part of our regular public school
work. Special agricultural schools are to be
organised. There is to be a well developed
plan of extension teaching conducted by the
agricultural colleges, by means of the printed
page, face to face talks, and demonstration or
object lessons, designed to reach every farmer
and his family, at or near their homes, with
knowledge and stimulus in every department of
country life.

Organisation. — There must be a vast en-
largement of voluntary organised effort among

xiv



Preface

farmers themselves. It is indispensable that
farmers shall work together for their common
interests and for the national welfare. If they
do not do this no governmental activity, no
legislation, not even better schools, will greatly
avail. Much has been done. There is a multi-
tude of clubs and associations for social, educa-
tional, and business purposes ; and great national
organisations are effective. But the farmers are,
nevertheless, relatively unorganised. We have
only begun to develop business co-operation in
America. Farmers do not influence legislation
as they should. They need a more fully
organised social and recreative life.

Spiritual Forces. — The forces and institu-
tions that make for morality and spiritual ideals
among rural people must be energised. We
miss the heart of the problem if we neglect to
foster personal character and neighbourhood
righteousness. The best way to preserve ideals
for private conduct and public life is to build
up the institutions of religion. The church has
great power of leadership. The whole people
should understand that it is vitally important to
stand behind the rural church and to help it to
become a great power in developing concrete
country life ideals. It is especially important
that the country church recognise that it has a
social responsibility to the entire community as
well as a religious responsibility to its own group
of people."

XV



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE LANDOWNER . . - - i

II. THE FARMER - - - - - ^2

III. THE RURAL LABOURER - - - " "S

IV. EDUCATION AND AGRICULTURE - - I36
V. POLITICAL ECONOMY AND THE LAND - - I94

VI. SMALL HOLDINGS AND AGRICULTURE - - 234

VII. AGRICULTURAL ORGANISATION - - - 259

Vlll. POLITICS AND THE LAND - - - 284

IX. THE LAND AND THE EMPIRE - - - 327



XVll B



LAND PROBLEMS AND
NATIONAL WELFARE



LAND PROBLEMS AND
NATIONAL WELFARE

CHAPTER I

THE LANDOWNER

IN any review of the agricultural condition
of England it is only fitting to begin with
the consideration of the landowner. In
the past he took a very active part in the
government of his country, and the duty of
local administration rested almost entirely with
him. And though a gradual change has been
taking place, tending to reduce the power and
influence of the landowner, he still is, or at
least ought to be, a leader of the agricultural
industry and the mainspring of all local rural
life. Some sixty years ago that remarkable
man, Mr. John Darby, wrote these prophetic
words :

" In proportion as the landowner loses the sole control
" and direction of local affairs, so will he cease to be an
" active member of the community, he will stand aloof and
" give himself up to the pursuit of pleasure."

I think that all who are acquainted with
country life and who watch the processes of
evolution ever at work in all classes of society

I c



Land rrohlems and National Welfare

will admit that Mr. Darby's forecast has, to a
great extent, come true.

There are districts in which the majority of
landowners take little part in administrative
work, and an excessive and undue share is there-
fore thrown upon the few, who are thus over-
taxed.

Fewer landowners now represent their shire
or district in parliament than was the case in
days of yore — largely because, even if they were
willing to do so, many could not afford to devote
the money or the time exacted by parliamentary
life in London. Still, making all due allowance,
the apathy of the landowner, at a time when the
policy advocated by a large number of politicians
constitutes a direct menace to his existence, is,
to my mind, a remarkable feature of the present
condition of the country.

It seems well nigh impossible to induce land-
owners to take concerted action to advance the
cause of agriculture.

The Central Land Association was formed in
the hope of bringing all landowners together
in a common cause ; it has been doing good
work, and many leading landowners have joined
it, but it could be wished that a greater number
would actively identify themselves with the move-
ment. It does not seem to be realised that this
society stands apart from all other organisations ;
and that by diligently supporting a society which

2



The Landowner

is non-party, and yet is essentially political, one
which works for the interests of the whole
agricultural industry and is not merely a land-
lords' defence league, we shall be able effect-
ually to protect all that is best in our present
system of land tenure.

Disunited, landowners can do little, for their
voting power is small.

If they form themselves into property defence
societies to fight for the cause of landlordism
alone, they will be playing directly into the
hands of the Socialists.

But if they elect to form a great society,
which shall exist solely to further the interests
of agriculture in parliament and out : a society
which shall be recognised as representative of all
that is soundly progressive ; then the landowners
of Great Britain will put themselves in an
unassailable position, and will be able to guide
those essential reforms in our system of land
tenure which must surely come.

The great point to keep in mind is that
about 80 per cent, of the population has little
or no sympathy with the landowner ; in fact,
any feeling there is may be looked upon rather
as one of hostility. Reference is not here made
to the rural population living on large estates,
which, as a whole, is decidedly friendly to the
landowner. A few years ago, when working
professionally as an architect, I discussed the

3



Land Problems and National Welfare

social conditions of the country with many of
the intelligent artisans with whom I came in
contact ; and, though none of them had a
specific dislike for the individual landowner, I
found they were all very much against the
present system of landlordism, and felt it wrong
that so much of the land of England should
be in the hands of so few men.

There are only about 5,000 large landowners
(of over 1,000 acres), and yet this handful of men
owns about one half the land of Great Britain !
And although in official blue books about
1,000,000 landowners are recorded, the greater
part of these are men who own a town lot or
two, and so do not count as landowners in the
rural sense of the word. In Germany there are
5,000,000 landowners, and in France about the
same number.

Taking present circumstances into considera-
tion, I am convinced that the only way in which
landowners can now maintain themselves as a
class is by actively identifying their interests
with those of the agricultural industry. From
this time forward landowners should sink their
own class interests for the welfare of the industry
— as many in fact do — so that Socialists and
extreme Radicals may be given no opportunity
of asserting that property owners are pursuing
a merely selfish policy. Landlords should so
manage their estates that politicians and the

4



The Landowner

general public would be forced to recognise that
the land, the nation's chief asset, was being put
to the best possible use. Landlords should
not only guide the development of the agri-
cultural industry, but should direct the whole
movement of land reform. Land reform will
have to come within a few years' time ; and it
rests with the landowners either to guide that
reform — as the Danish landowners have done —
or to see the whole process of reconstruction
taken out of their hands and attempted by
politicians who may lack that practical know-
ledge which is necessary to make land reform
successful.

Landowners still subscribe large sums to the
party chest : they could therefore, more than any
other section of the rural community, force
politicians to give heed to the requirements of
agriculture ; they could insist upon the choosing
of candidates for rural constituencies by reason
of their agricultural qualifications, and could stop
the present system of sending down " carpet-
baggers " to contest our rural divisions.

It should be clearly recognised as necessary,
in order to secure the solidarity of the move-
ment, that a certain number of suitable tenant
farmers be returned to Parliament ; for it
is only right that the people who make their
entire living off the land should have some
representatives of their own in the House of

5



Land Problems and National Welfare

Commons. The same postulation applies to the
rural labourers : it would in every way be de-
sirable to have a few good labourers representing
country districts in the House. The number of
farmer and labour members would from force
of circumstances be limited, but the inclusion
of even a few would do more than anything
else to consolidate the agricultural interest
throughout the country ; it would be the best
demonstration of what combination could effect.

To secure this recognition in parliament, and
the extension of the agricultural movement on a
large scale, it is essential that all agriculturists
should contribute to a special " Parliamentary "
fund.

If landowners do not put themselves at the
head of the land reform movement, guiding it
wisely and in such a way as to cause the
smallest amount of disturbance, and at the same
time to secure the maximum benefit to the people
in general, they will undoubtedly be swept aside
— taxed out of existence — and this form of
extinction is clearly in the minds of a large
section of politicians.

In view of the present developments it is
necessary for landowners to study the economic
relation of land to the welfare of the whole
nation, and also in great detail its economic
relation to every question of social reform now
stirring the minds of men.

6



The Landowner

From the national point of view one of the
chief needs is that more food should be pro-
duced in the country. There are at this
moment some 12,000,000 acres of poorly-laid
down, neglected, unproductive grass land that
could be put to much better use.

The question of the yield per acre, or rather
per square mile — because it is in considering the
larger area that our waste of land is most
apparent — is one for the landowner as well as
for the farmer. I fear that the need of more
intensive farming is not thoroughly understood
by landowners ; as a rule they assented, during
the period of depression, to increased extensive
methods as the best way of meeting the crisis
— i.e., less labour and less manure bestowed
upon the soil until over large areas these were
reduced to below the economic minimum.

All scientific experiments at Rothamsted
and elsewhere, while they show that there is a
maximum output which it is unremunerative to
exceed, clearly prove that there is a minimum
which is disastrous ; also that a more than
ordinary application of labour and artificials to
the soil is commercially sound, and that ex-
penditure in this direction is directly and im-
mediately remunerative.

English landowners must learn to regard
their estates as business concerns to a far
greater degree than has been customary in the

7



Land Problems and National Welfare

past. To do this need in no way curtail to
them the pleasure of their connection with the
land, but rather will increase the practical
interest of it, and will encourage that affection
which is rightly felt by the owner of an
ancient estate ; for nothing is more destructive
of the sentiment which a man should have for
his property than the pressure of hopeless
poverty.

It will be necessary, then, in the first place,
for the rising generation of landowners to be
learned in the details of estate management,
just as the commercial man must know the
details of his business. A few landowners send
their eldest sons to Cirencester, Wye, or to the
agricultural course at Cambridge. This is good,
but the instruction does not go far enough.
A young Dane, for instance, goes through a much
longer course of preparation, often including
the practical management of a farm as under
bailiff and finally as head bailiff, the whole
training frequently extending to seven years.

In the second place it will be found expedient
to reduce the size of many estates: one man can
manage more land than another, but a large pro-
portion of the land of England is held in estates
too large for any one owner to handle efficiently.
I call an estate efficiently managed when it is
paying the owner a fair interest on the capital
it represents, in other words, on its selling value.



The Landowner

There is an axiom in the commercial world
which is equally applicable to estate manage-
ment : " When the head of a business can no
longer grasp all its details then that business is
on too large a scale for economic working." I
do not for one moment suggest that the land-
owner should dispense with the land agent, for
a go-between is essential ; but I do hold that he
should himself have a thorough knowledge of
estate management, and should be able to
supervise all that takes place ; and above all,
that he should be competent to devise new
methods of developing his estate to suit the
changing conditions of the times.

On the whole I am inclined to think that in
the case of a large estate of 15,000 or 20,000
acres, the best plan is to have a highly qualified
resident agent rather than to entrust its con-
duct to a firm of agents ; the manager on the
spot should generally prove less costly, and
there is now a good available supply of well-
trained and up-to-date agents.

I quite recognise that there exist numerous
firms of land agents, excellent in every respect,
who often send their junior members to reside
on smaller estates. Still the danger remains
that a firm will be tempted to undertake the
management of more land than its individual
members can give proper attention to. But the
worst plan of all is to entrust the management to

9



Land Problems and National Welfare

a firm of solicitors ; for it would seem to be self-
evident that they, untrained in estate agency
or in farming, cannot be the best managers of
land. Yet I fear that a good deal of property
is so managed — I have myself come across
some extraordinary cases.

Another unsound practice which prevails to a
considerable extent is that of looking to the
Estate Office to provide employment for some
poor and deserving relation whose sole qualifi-
cations are that he is poor and deserving. This
is bad economy : it would be far cheaper to
pension him.

Thirdly, it is important that the landowner
should have, if not a very intimate knowledge
(which would be best) of the processes of agricul-
ture, at least sufficient knowledge to enable him


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Online LibraryChristopher Hatton TurnorLand problems and national welfare → online text (page 1 of 21)