Page:The Land Question.djvu/21

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because there is a margin of unearned profit in the shape of landlord's rent which may perfectly well be diminished without inflicting a wrong on anybody.

We shall have got some way towards putting things right when we have secured a sufficiency of cottage accommodation for the labourer, when we have diminished his hours of work, and given the parish power to take up land for labourers' holdings. The labourer would then have before him the prospect of rising by thrift and industry; for, without losing the security of weekly wages, he might gradually enlarge his holding, and so at last become an independent person. But there is one enormous difficulty in the way. Where is the labourer to get the capital to stock his holding at the commencement 1 If there is pasture available, probably the best thing he can do is to keep a cow; if not, he ought to grow fruit or vegetables. In any case, if he has anything more than a mere garden, he will want at least from £20 to £50 to make a fair start, and where is this to come from? In individual cases landlords might be willing to advance the money, or companies might be formed on a commercial basis; but it would not do to count on this. I see nothing for it but to empower local authorities to advance the money on loan out of local funds, and to authorise the Charity Commissioners, and other authorities in control of semi-public moneys, to include such loans among their recognised objects. After all, we are great communists in this country with regard to our workhouses and poor-rates. Every Englishman is entitled in the last resort to have food, fire, and lodging provided for him in the workhouse out of the ratepayers' pockets, without the least chance of their getting anything back; and I do not see that it is by any means so bad an application of public funds if, instead of waiting till people are paupers, we lend, with due precautions for repayment, in order to give a start to those who, in the absence of such assistance, will certainly live upon the public rates as paupers in their old age.

Village Industries.

And here I leave the labourer, assuming that when he has got his holding he is not to be turned out without due reason. But the labourer is by no means the only person whom we have to do