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Speeches by the
Right Hon. D. ,LLOYD GEORGE, M.P.

Chancellor of the Exchequer

" It looks as though this rich and powerful nation, after the
exceptional provision it has been making recently for the
needy and unfortunate, has been blessed with greater pros-
perity than it has ever attained in the whole history of its
commercial greatness." Second Budget Speech, y>thjune, 1910,






I d


1. TRUSTS AND MONOPOLIES. Newcastle, April 4, 1903 .

2. WELSH EDUCATION REVOLT. Cardiff, October 6, 1904 16


October 11, 1906 30

4. FREE TRADE. Manchester, April 21, 1908 37

5. SOCIAL REFORM. Swansea, October i, 1908 48

6. THE PEOPLE'S BUDGET. House of Commons, April 29,

1909 60

7. THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE. Limehouse, July 30,

i99 J 44


October 9, 1909 157


Club, December 3, 1909 176

10. THE BUDGET EXAMINED. Carnarvon, December 9,

1909 192


Queen's Hall, December 16, 1909 208


ber 17, 1909 220


December 31, 1909 233




January i, 1910 255

15. TARIFFS AND THE FOREIGNER. Plymouth, January 8,

1910 266

16. THE PEERS' CAMPAIGN. Falmouth, January 10, 1910 278

17. RURAL INTIMIDATION. Queen's Hall, March 23, 1910 289

1 8. SECOND BUDGET. House of Commons, June 30, 1910 . 303


I HAVE been urged by friends to publish these speeches.
Very reluctantly I gave my assent. I felt, however,
that the speeches might at any rate serve one useful
purpose the dispelling of a popular Tory illusion as to
the origin of the Budget scheme of 1909.

It has pleased some critics to represent the proposals
of that Budget as a pure electioneering expedient, devised
to meet a critical emergency in the fortunes of the Liberal
Government. Some of the speeches in this volume will
at least prove that the ideas which found form in the
Finance Bill of 1909 had been in my mind years before
the present Liberal Government was even in sight.

This may be a poor excuse for publishing a volume
of speeches, but I have no other to offer.


CRICCIETH, August, 1910.


NEWCASTLE, April 4, 1903.

WE have arrived at one of the most important stages in
the history of the Liberal party. I believe the future of
this country largely depends upon the foresight, convic-
tion, courage, and devotion to principle of the Liberal
party during the coming years. There is, in my judg-
ment, too great a disposition of late years to play up to
the \vhims arid caprices of what is known as the man
in the street. The man in the street clamours for war,
and we all say war is the right thing. The man in the
street says we must have a big Army, and we all say
"right," we must have a formidable Army. The man in
the street talks about the expansion of the Empire, and
we all garnish our speeches with Imperial allusions. But
the man in the street has a relapse; he gets tired, not so
much of the pomp, but of the burden of war; and we
all become peaceable. The man in the street then says
it is not an increase of the Army you want, but a small
one; and we all say the Army is too big. There is too
much disposition to tune our lyre to the sounds that come
from the street, instead of standing to the sound prin-
ciples of Liberalism. The man in the street is the man
who gives neither time nor serious thought to the study
of politics. Whenever anything sensational occurs the
man in the street begins to think of politics. Nothing, in



my judgment, can be more detrimental to good govern-
ment than that the policy of any party should be dictated
to by the mere passions of a superficial observer whilst
the reflections of the real students of politics who give
their best time and thought to the study are brushed
aside. It is time we should revert back to the old funda-
mental principles and base our policy upon them.

We have great problems in front of us. Never were
a people confronted with greater or more serious problems.
What is the condition of the people in this country at the
present time? Seven per cent, of the people in the great
cities live in a state of chronic destitution a hand-to-
mouth existence. Thirty per cent., or nearly one-third,
live on or below the poverty line. Who can tell what
that means? That is the problem which Liberalism has
to grapple with if it is true to itself. How are you
going to do it? You must reduce extravagant national
expenditure, which undoubtedly affects the people and
bears upon them. You must have efficiency in all the
departments of the State. More than that, you must
above all deal with those enormous trusts and monopolies
which are interfering with national development, crushing
out industries, and pressing heavily upon vast numbers
of the people of this country. What do I mean by trusts
and monopolies? You may say you have no great trusts
here as you have in America. In America you had great
trade combines, but they were purely ephemeral. They
were creations of yesterday. By the mere action of trade
and industry they occasionally collapse. Those that are
still in existence the American people, with that prompti-
tude and energy which characterise them, are preparing
to deal with. But in this country the trusts I am alluding
to are part of the social fabric. They have been in exist-
ence for generations and centuries. They had their com-
mencement in the days of William the Conqueror.

What is the first of them ? The first is the great land
trust. The land is a trust. A great financier starts his


work and I recollect it as a law student as one of the
first lessons in the law of real property by saying there
is no absolute property in land. Sometimes we curse the
feudal system, but at any rate there is this to be said for
the feudal system : it was based on the assumption that
the revenues on land were given to a set of men in order
to enable them to deal in their district with the problems
of national defence and the administration of justice.
Before we attack the feudal system, the first thing we have
to do is to realise its obligations. Let me say a word
about this question as it affects the towns. The land in
London is worth about ^500,000,000. It is worth more
than all the municipal debt throughout the kingdom the
money which has been sunk in great municipal enter-
prises, in waterworks, sanitation, lighting, tramways, and
roads. The land in London is worth more than all the
municipal debt of the kingdom. Who created that
wealth? It was not the landlords. London was a
swamp, and the landlords did not even create that. All
the wealth has been created by the industry, the energy,
and the enterprise of the people who dwell in London.
Every year the value of the land is improving in London
by the capital sum of ^"10,000,000. This improved value
is due to the energy of the people, not to the great land-
lords into whose coffers this enormous sum of money
pours. Whilst the landlords are going to their race-
courses, their property is increasing by this enormous
sum. Out of this sum of money what do they contribute
to the public expenditure? If these great communities
had not expended money upon sanitation and lighting and
roads this value would never have been created. These
communities could not have existed at all without great
public expenditure that has enabled the landlord to get
this value for the land. It would hardly be believed by
anyone outside this country that the landlords have not
contributed a penny towards that great local expenditure.
The first duty of any reforming progressive Govern-

B 2


ment is to compel those gentlemen to contribute their
fair share. London, of course, is the great illustration,
but you can find the same thing in any great city or town,
or even in villages throughout the country. Glasgow,
I am told, is going up in value to the extent of
2,000,000 every year. They laid down in Glasgow a
system of tram lines, and a magnificent system it is ;
but what is the result? Simply that all the land in
the suburbs is going up in value by leaps and bounds.
Land worth ,500 two or three years ago is worth ,5,000
or more this year. The land of Glasgow and suburbs is
going up in value each year to the extent of 2,000,000,
and yet towards all the municipal expenditure entailed
the great landlords have not contributed a single penny.
I was in Liverpool some time ago and was given a
remarkable example of that sort of thing. Just outside
Liverpool, but inside the Corporation area, there was a
man who had a piece of land in respect of which he
received 19 a year as rent, as much as it was worth.
Liverpool grew, and this land was afterwards let for
building purposes, and the Earl of Sefton received
70,000 premium for letting the land, ,and is now
receiving 16,000 a year for that land which would be
worth 700 were it not for the fact that that great hive
of industry had grown up. And what does he contribute
to the expenditure of the Corporation? Not one penny.
I was given other figures in Liverpool. I was told that
the Lords of Derby and Sefton and Salisbury that these
three noble Lords are in the receipt of the sum of 345,000
a year from ground rents in the city, and out of that
enormous revenue they do not contribute one penny to
the public expenditure on the place.

Recently the present Unionist Government [1903] passed
the Agricultural Rating Act. Under that Act the tax-
payers in Liverpool who are paying heavy rates to improve
Lord Salisbury's property are paying something like one
penny in the pound to relieve Lord Salisbury, Lord


Sefton, and Lord Derby from paying the rates on the
great rural estates to which they retire to enjoy their
,'345,000 a year, to take the rates off these poor,
oppressed landlords this crushed industry of receiving
rents. It must be hard work receiving and spending
.345,000 a vear > even if you don't earn it. Yet, at the
last election in this country, the people gave a majority
of 135 to a Government which did that, and very
nearly wiped out the party that opposed it called
them traitors and pro-Boers. As Mr. Chamberlain has
repeatedly said, "This is a wonderful Empire." Lord
Selborne, in a speech which was reported yesterday Lord
Selborne, by the way, is a son-in-law of Lord Salisbury-
called upon the taxpayers of the country to contemplate
the rich reward they were receiving from their opposition
to Home Rule. He was perfectly right. Lord Selborne
and his friends are receiving a very rich reward all these
millions that have been given to landlords, whose only
contribution towards the work of the community is
receiving these enormous ground rents. All this question
of the taxation of ground rents bears upon the great
municipal enterprises of the future.

Take the question of overcrowding. This land question
in the towns bears upon that. It is all very well to produce
Housing of the Working Classes Bills. They will never
be effective until you tackle the taxation of land values.
Do you know that you are living in one of the worst
districts of England in respect to overcrowding? Out
of the six worst towns in the country, the three very
worst are in the North of England. Gateshead tops the
list. Newcastle comes second. I think Sunderland is
the third. These are the three worst towns, and you have
villages in some of the mining districts of Northumber-
land which are still worse than the towns. In one village
the overcrowding is 55 per cent. What does overcrowd-
ing mean? It is not a question purely of the physical
discomfort which it imposes upon its victims. It is more


than that. It is a question of health and happiness, self-
respect, morality. How can you expect a healthy, sound
race, when men, at the end of their hard day's work, are
supposed to recruit the strength consumed in their toil in
habitations where some of our great landlords would not
pen their cattle ? How can you expect men and women to
lead cleanly lives under such conditions as obtain in some
of our large towns?

I sat as a member of an Old Age Pensions Committee
appointed by a Unionist Government ami I really
thought it meant business. I was younger then. We
drew up a scheme and found it would cost twelve millions
a year. The Government said it would cost too much,
and, by way of a diversion, plunged into the South
African War as a cheaper business. Since then they have
increased our taxation by armaments and war debts by
more than would have sufficed for all our Old Age
Pensions. In the evidence we heard we found a greater
difficulty than giving pensions. We found amongst the
workmen, especially in the unskilled trades, that men
rarely approach even the confines of old age. They are
exhausted by the way, still in the prime of life. When
we came to fix our age for a pension at sixty-five, we
found that large masses of the workmen would never
live to benefit by it. Why? The explanation is to be
found in the terrible habitations to which the large propor-
tion of our unskilled workmen in the large towns are
driven at the end of their day's work. Here is another
fact. I have told you that 7 per cent, of the people live
in destitution, that one-third live on or about the poverty
line. They have not the moral or the physical stamina
necessary to sustain continuous labour. How can you
expect them with such homes as these? The first thing
to do in lifting up the people is to provide decent habita-
tions. Before you can do that you must grapple with
the land question in the towns the first of these great
trusts. It is all land. You cannot build houses without


land, you cannot lay down trams for the purpose of
spreading" the population over a wider area without land.
As long as the landlords are allowed to charge prohibi-
tive prices for a bit of land, even waste land, without
contributing anything to local resources, so long will this
terrible congestion remain in our towns.

This, then, is the first great trust to deal with land.
There is another reason why it must be dealt with, and
that is because the resources of local taxation are almost
exhausted. There are instances of rates going up to 8s.,
95., and even ios., and there is yet much that the munici-
palities ought to do, but cannot. It is essential that they
should get new resources. What better resources can
you get than this wealth created by the community, and
how better can it be used than for the benefit of the

I would like to say something about rural land, but I
am not going to dwell upon that. The land question in
the country is very important for the towns as well. But
the only thing I will put to you is this : There is some-
thing wrong where the labourer, working hard from
morning till night in spring, summer, autumn, and winter,
in rain and sunshine, only to receive his us. a week in
vast areas of rural England in a country where you give
thousands of pounds to men who do not labour at all.
There is something wrong where you have such a state
of things as you find in Wiltshire and among the agricul-
tural communities of England, where labourers are
crowded into cottages, three, four, and even ten in one
room. People are crowded in Wiltshire like this, and
in a district where the community could spare fifty acres
of the loveliest park land to a man who does nothing.
There is something wrong in that system. It is largely a
town problem. You are driving all these labourers into
the town owing to this land system. These men depress
wages. You take them away from their healthy environ-
ments, where they have as much air and sun as Provi-


dence can spare for English soil. You drive them
into the town to unhealthy environments. You weaken
the martial resources of this country by taking them from
the country where you develop a robust and strong
manhood. All these questions will demand serious con-
sideration in your cities in the future. But that is not
the whole story of the land. There is the question of
mining royalties.

In every country in Europe except this the State has
reserved its rights over minerals. In France, through the
Revolution, they abolished the private ownership in
minerals. But in this country we are paying five millions
and a half for permission to develop our mineral
resources to men, I won't say they have no right to it,
but men who have contributed nothing to that develop-
ment. What happens as a rule? I will tell you the
story of some mines I know in South Wales. One
of them in particular. There is a nice bit of common
land which belonged to the whole people in that dis-
trict. It is a waste with just a few unshepherded
cattle upon it, and the landlord says, " It is a pity for
this land to lie waste; would it not be better to put it
under the plough? " So in a Parliament composed largely
of lords of the manors he obtained an Enclosure Act
to bring into cultivation waste land. He put it under the
plough, and the tenants have been under the harrow ever
since. The Enclosure Act is passed. The land in future
does not belong to the people of the district ; it belongs
to the lord of the manor. Some day they discover that
this unpromising waste has a great treasure underneath
it coal, or iron, or copper, or it may be slates. What
happens? Some gentleman comes round and says, "I
should like to open up that land." The lord of the manor
says, "Yes, if you pay ten times as much as it is worth."
So he commences to sink, and very often sinks something
else he sinks his money. If he fails, the lord of the
manor compels him to pay for the damage to the surface,


three times as much as the surface is worth. That is a
good start, but it is only a start. Supposing he succeeds,
and finds coal there, the lord of the manor, with three
times the value of the surface in his pocket, adds a charge
of 5d., 6d., or is. a ton for all the coal raised, a third or
fourth of the wages of the miner.

That is not all. Naturally the discovery of a rich mine
like this attracts people to the neighbourhood, and, of
course, the more people go there to work the better it
will be for the lord of the manor. You would imagine
he would show some concern for the proper housing of
the men who come down to work this mine. Does he
say, " It is in our interest ; let me help you to this nice
bit of land ? It is poor land ; I am getting about six-
pence for it now. Take it, my good fellow, and build
a nice house for yourself. And there is a rock over there ;
go and quarry as much stone out of it as you need to
build that house. Make yourself comfortable and happy
while you are working here." That is not the way of
lords of the manor. The lord of the manor says, "You
may build a house on that land, but you must pay me
for it every year forty times its value. You may quarry
stones there, but you must pay me so much for every
cartload you take away. And when you have built your
house, it does not belong to you. Part of it will belong
to me, and that part will grow year by year. I will have
a few stones this year, and the stones will grow year
by year, and I will take your house piece by piece. When
you are an old man half of it will belong to me, and
when you are dead it will pass to my son, and not to

Nor is that all. Talking about the daughter of the
horse leech, if there had been ground landlords in that
day and royalty owners, the inspired writers would
have alluded to them as examples of greed. But, sup-
posing that something happens to the miner. He goes
down into the bowels of the earth, facing dark, weird, and


potent enemies, the savage forces of untamed nature, at
any moment ready to maim, mutilate, or to crush the life
out of him. Supposing he falls, this soldier of industry,
does the mining royalty owner contribute one penny
towards his care or his cure? Does he make any provi-
sion for those dependent on him? If he is killed, what
does the mining royalty owner pay? It is true that the
man who sinks his capital, even though the accident that
destroys the miner may destroy his fortune, is compelled
to contribute.

Next time the Progressive forces of this country are
once more triumphant their first task will be to teach their
civil duties to these people.

Another illustration of the dangers of uncontrolled
power over the resources of the soil is supplied by the
Penrhyn case? Originally the whole of the Penrhyn
quarry was common land. Great lords came there, and
got an Enclosure Act. It is now their property. At the
beginning of the last century a family of slave-owners from
Jamaica came over and took over the quarry, and founded
the new Penrhyn dynasty. And the quarry has been
worked on slave-driving principles ever since. I am not
going into all the details of the dispute between the work-
men and the employer. It is sufficient to say that these
men protest in the name of self-respect and manliness
against the terms which degraded them. They say : " If
we are wrong we will submit to the arbitrament of any
honourable body of men, of any creed, of any party in
the land." They have named the Unionist Prime Minister.
Although they are Liberals they say, "We will submit
our case to the Prime Minister, to Lord Rosebery, to Lord
James, to any man nominated by the Board of Trade "
nay, they say, "We will submit the settlement of the
dispute to Lord Penrhyn 's own counsel." What is the
answer? "I am the sole judge." Really, there ought
to be a limit to this sort of thing.

And to-day you have great distress in that community.


I can hardly trust myself to speak of it. Every man who
comes tells me one story he is just stricken down by the
pinched, hungry look of little children. A school attend-
ance officer finds children in a house. "How is it,"
he asks, "the children are not at school?" "They are
in bed," says the mother. "In bed?" "Yes," she says,
"I have not a crust to give them for breakfast." The
suffering is intense, all through the cruel arbitrament of
this one man. These men have endured hardships that
I cannot depict. They have faced it all. There has never
been a struggle in the history of Labour where men have
shown such tenacity, such unflinching courage. I can
understand them. They are mountaineers, and I know
the feeling of mountaineers towards the mountains. They
are working among mountains, the ramparts thrown up
by God throughout His earth for the defence of freedom,
and they say, " We will endure anything rather than
desecrate the hills with slavery." Were I a Penrhyn
quarryman, I would rather, on the bleakest moorland
road in Britain, be a stone-breaker than yield to these

But what about the interests of the community? Here
is a thriving industry. Here is a loyal, industrious, God-
fearing community, brought to the verge of starvation.
Here are towns in the district whose trade is withering,
and I put this to those gentlemen who talk about foreign
competition here is the building trade throughout the
country suffering, and here are slates coming from
America for the first time, and establishing a foothold in
British markets from which you cannot dislodge them.
We are living in an age of keen competition. There is
a great struggle for life, not merely amongst individuals,
but amongst nations, for commerce, trade, supremacy.
No nation can afford to allow medieval notions, to allow
either the insatiable greed or the insensate pride of any
aristocrat to stand in the way of an industry. I am
delighted to find that the Liberal party is a whole, without


any division, one mind, one purpose, in putting an end
to this tyranny of Lord Penrhyn.

There are other trusts. There is the drink monopoly.
What is that? We are a community not of teetotalers,
or, if we are, we have a very considerable cellar. I
believe it costs us about one hundred and sixty millions a
year. At any rate, it is a community that has not made
up its mind that alcohol has no place in civilisation. The

Online LibraryDavid Lloyd GeorgeBetter times; → online text (page 1 of 26)