Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/215

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THE FUTURE OF OUR COMMONS.

man and members of the Board proposed to make the Board the central authority to protect and preserve commons; they asked for large taxing powers in order to raise money sufficient to buy up all rights of the lords of the manors and commoners, and to sell parts of the metropolitan commons for building, in order in some degree to recoup the ratepayers. The committee of the House of Commons which was then considering the question rejected this scheme of the Metropolitan Board, holding that the rights of commoners being amply sufficient to keep the commons open, purchase was unnecessary. This opinion has since been repeatedly confirmed by decisions in the law courts. There seems no reason to suppose that Hampstead Heath, for which the Metropolitan Board gave nearly £50,000, might have not been kept open without purchase had the matter been carried to an issue. The question is an important one as far as the ratepayers are concerned; it is also very important as a