Page:The Land Question.djvu/17

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or to turn it to some use more beneficial to the public than agriculture.

You will see that this does not go so far as giving absolute fixity of tenure. The Irish farmer gets his farm by inheritance; he builds his own buildings; and he has now very properly been recognised as a sort of copyholder. The English farmer takes his farm by contract; the buildings are erected by the landlord; and the farmer, after his contract of tenancy has expired, can hardly demand to be kept in permanent possession if real reason for change has occurred. The reason, however, should be such as would satisfy a public authority.

2. The Land Court must have the power of fixing rents in cases of dispute, and of reducing them even in the case of existing leases.

I rest this interference with contract-engagements on grounds of public utility, namely, the necessity of keeping the soil of England productive, which is impossible if farmers are to pay away their capital in rent; and I justify it by two well-known acts of the English Court of Chancery, in interfering with and setting aside certain forfeiture-clauses in leases, and those clauses in mortgages which gave the mortgagee absolute rights over the mortgaged estate in case of default of payment. It is not the case that voluntary concession has made the interference of a public authority unnecessary. The remissions of rents made by landlords during the last six years, large as they seem, are trifling in comparison with the losses sustained by farmers. In the parts of England that have suffered most, ten, twenty, or thirty per cent, in single years is nothing; a total remission of rent for three years together would probably not have covered the farmers' losses.

3. The farmer should have the right of selling his tenancy to anyone whom he chooses, subject to the landlord's right to urge any objection to the new tenant before the District Land Court. The new tenant to hold on the same terms as the old, that is, not to be ejected or to have his rent raised without the sanction of the Court.

Of course if the tenant is to be regarded as a sort of feudal retainer of the landlord, it sounds shocking that he should have the right of nominating a successor. But if the true object of our