THE STATE AS LANDOWNER, AND PROPERTY IN INDIA.
It is well known that in Mohammedan states the sovereign is regarded as owner of the soil, by virtue of the principles of the Koran. But it is particularly interesting to see how a European government, on becoming master of an immense territory where Mussulman principles were in force, took advantage of this right of property. We have already seen the material advantage derived by Holland from the application of this system to its colony of Java. Let us now examine how England solved the problem in India.(1)
India has been so completely subject to the Mohammedans, who twice united all its provinces in a single empire, that the Mussulman principle of the state's proprietorship was universally recognised there. In virtue of this right the sovereign deducted a certain portion of the produce. This has been held to be a mere tax; but when the tax rises so high as to absorb nearly the whole produce and to leave the cultivators the bare means of subsistence, it is obviously an actual rent that is paid; and if it is the State that receives such a tax, it may be considered as the true proprietor. Before the arrival of the English this rent consisted of a part of the produce, varying between one half and one quarter, and was gathered by collectors, who retained a certain proportion as salary, or else by farmers general who paid the Government a fixed sum. The soil was rarely sold, because the rent, which alone could make it of value, was taken by the State.
The idea of an absolute ownership of the soil, giving the right of disposing of it at will, was never entertained. "We are too apt to forget," says Sir G. Campbell, "that property in laud as a transferable mercantile commodity absolutely owned and passing from hand like any chattel, is not an ancient institution but a modern development, reached only in a few very advanced countries. In the greater part of the world the right of cultivating particular portions of the earth is rather a privilege than a property; a privilege first of a. whole people, then of a particular tribe or a particular village community, and finally of particular individuals of the community. In this last stage the land is partitioned off to these individuals as a matter of mutual convenience, but not in unconditional property; it long remains subject to certain conditions and to reversionary interests of the community, which prevent its uncontrolled alienation, and attach to it certain common rights and common burdens."(2)
In five great divisions of their vast empire, with a population of two hundred and ninety millions, the English have introduced five different systems for the organization of landed property. There is therefore a wide field for the study of social forms.
1. In the Punjab, the State has respected the rights of the small cultivators, whom it considers as proprietors; and it has treated for the revenue or rent with village communities as collective corporations.
2. In Bengal, it has attributed the proprietorship to Zemindars, imposing certain guarantees in favour of the occupiers.
3. In Oudh, it regarded the Taluqdárs as proprietors, without sufficient reservation in the interest of the occupiers.
4. In the North-west and Central Provinces there are properties of medium extent, the peasants, or ryots, having fixity of tenure at a fair rent.
5. In Madras and Bombay there are no persons intermediate between the cultivators, or ryots, and the State. The ryots have fixity of tenure, at a rent fixed for the term of each settlement.(3)
We will examine the several systems more closely.
1. In the Punjab, the villagers have preserved a strong constitution, almost entire independence and a perfectly republican communal autonomy. Collective ownership of the soil with periodic partition has disappeared; but there remains extensive common pasturage; and nearly all the families have some land which returns to the community on their ceasing to cultivate it. The community also exercises a right of control over its members in all that concerns the cultivation of their lands.
The village consists of an association of free men, descended, according to tradition, from a common ancestor; it is therefore strictly speaking a clan. Each inhabitant has a share of the soil expressed in "ploughs." A "plough" is no fixed quantity, but simply a portion: one or two hundredth parts of the territory. Although all are proprietors there is not perfect equality; some have several "ploughs," others only half a "plough"; these shares are evidently derived from the lots formerly assigned in the days of periodic allotment. The community is governed by a council of elders, who retain power so long as they preserve the confidence of their fellow-villagers. This constitution, which is essentially democratic, still bears the stamp of its Indo-Germanic origin. It has entirely escaped the influence of the Brahminic system of caste as also that of the feudal system. It is precisely similar to the Swiss commune, which has likewise preserved the liberty and equality of the ancient Germanic communities. The State never interferes in the internal organization of the village. "The settlement is made with the communities, each village undertaking the payment, through its representative council of elders, of the revenue assessed upon it, which again is distributed upon the individual members, in proportion to the land held and cultivated by them."(4) The land cannot be seized and sold in satisfaction of debts; and, in case of alienation, the village has a droit de retrait, or right of pre-emption.
This system, put into execution by Lord Lawrence, has produced excellent results. The Government easily collects the rent due to it; small properties have been maintained; and primitive liberty and equality respected. It is allowed on all sides that the Punjab is alike the most prosperous province of India and the one most devoted to the English, to whom it gave the most active assistance in the time of the Mutiny.
2. In Bengal an entirely different system has been introduced. When the English occupied the country they found a superior class above the cultivators,the Zemiradars, who collected the rent for the State, retaining a certain proportion. These functions were transmitted hereditarily. The Zemindars, therefore, resembled the holders of a fief, in the theory of the feudal system. They were either tributary raj abs or princes, who had been reduced to the position of subjects, collectors or farmers of the revenue, native chiefs, or adventurers and bandits, who bad grown powerful in a district, for which they paid the revenue demanded. "To our ideas there is a wide gulf between a robber and a landlord, but not so in a native view. It is wonderful how much, in times such as those of the last century, the robber, the rajab, and the Zemindar run into one another."(5)
The English considered the Zemindars as proprietors, not from any misunderstanding as to the nature of their rights, as has often been asserted, but because they hoped by this means to collect the revenue more regularly, at the same time that they created a superior class who might improve the cultivation, and help to enrich the country, as the English aristocracy have done. They were, however, disappointed in their hopes. The Zemindars are content with taking the revenue, and do nothing for the advancement of agriculture. But, on the other hand, they do not attempt to wrest from the cultivator the whole rent that they might obtain. Besides, the ryot has more protection against their demands than the tenant farmer in Europe. Zemindars can only claim the rent established by the pergunnah or custom. If any dispute arose regarding the customary rate, "the question was to be determined in the Dewany-Adawlut (Civil Court) of the Zillah in which the lands were situated, aocording to the rates established in the pergunnah for lands of the same description and quality as those respecting which the dispute arose."(6) The Zemindar cannot cancel the pottah (or specification of rent) so long as the rent is paid. Moreover, the State reserved a right of interference on behalf of the inferior holders. According to the existing law "The Governor-General in Council will, whenever he may deem it proper, enact such regulations as he may think necessary for the protection of the dependent taluqdàrs, ryots, and other cultivators of the soil."(7) This is a curious instance of State interference in the relations of proprietor and tenant
The Government also granted the Zemindars the property in all the waste lands of their domain, except those situated in districts not yet populated. The State demand was fixed at ten-eleveuths of the rent received by the Zemindars.
In Bengal proper, the Zemindars have granted "sub-leases in perpetuity, for a consideration."(8) Thus the right of the occupier is become a sort of sub-ownership, self-existent and capable of assignment, like the Irish tenant-right, the Portuguese aforamento, the Italian livello, or the hereditary lease of Groningen.
The absence of regular titles in public registers or copies from them, and the incessant suits arising from it, are the curse of landed property in Bengal as in England. New rules have recently been introduced to guarantee the rights of the ryots (Act x. of 1859). If the ryot can prove that his rent. has not been changed for twenty years. it shall be presumed that the land has been held at the same rate from the time of the permanent settlement (which entitles him to hold at the. same rent for ever), unless the Zemindar shews to the contrary. "Tenants having a right of occupancy are liable to enhancement of rent on the following grounds, and on these only:--
"That the land is found by measurement to be in excess of the quantity paid for.
"That the rate of rent is below the prevailing rates paid by the same class of ryots for similar lands in the places adjacent
"That the value of the produce, or the productive powers of the land, have been increased otherwise than by the agency or at the expense of the ryot."
In a famous suit called "The Great Rent Case," on the subject of indigo cultivation, the following principles were applied by the judges. The cultivator was allowed to sell his indigo at an advanced rate to the proprietor; while the latter was enabled to raise the rent, which he would not be permitted to do unless the price of the produce paid to the tenant had increased. This last rule is. remarkable as taking from the proprietors the benefit of any increase in value which is not the result of their own industry. This will be recognised as the principle which Stuart Mill wanted to apply in England, and which aroused such violent opposition. It was not, however, a novelty, as the State and the Judges were applying it in India.
3. In Oudh, during the period of anarchy preceding the annexation, the Taluqdars or old tribal chiefs who had become feudal lords and collectors of taxes like the Zemindars, usurped a quasi-independent right of property over two-thirds of the soil of the principality. In 1855, after the annexation, the Governor-General ordered the authorities to treat directly with the village-communities or the inferior zemindars, without recognizing any rights of the Taluqdars or other middlemen.(9) The Taluqdars, whose income was greatly reduced by this measure, rushed into the mutiny which broke out in 1857; and the ryots, ignorant of what was being done for them, fol lowed the example of their lords. After the fall of Lucknow, the Governor-General, Lord Canning, issued a proclamation, which confiscated to the benefit of the Government the property in the whole soil of Oudh. But this measure was not put into execution, and its only effect was to give to the Taluqdars a right of property, which they had not before. "It became the means," says the Hon. John Strachey, "of rewarding and benefitting the very men, the Taluqdars, whom Lord Canning had originally desired to punish, and of placing them in a far better position than that which they held under the native government." Sir Robert Montgomery, the Chief Commissioner, gained the submission of the Taluqdars by granting them the following advantages, which were confirmed to them by Lord Canning in October 1858: the Taluqdar, "instead of holding his estate, as he formerly did, subject to the conditions of the Hindu or Mohammedan or local law, according to which his power of disposing of ancestral property is very limited, now possesses an absolute power of disposing of his estate." He owes to the state one half of the gross-rental, the rate of which is to be fixed every twenty or thirty years. With regard to the ryots, the Governor-General expressed a wish "that the Taluqdar settlement may be so framed as to secure the village occupants from extortion" (Orders in Council, Oct. 30, 1858), and he reserved to himself the power necessary "to uphold their rights in the soil in subordination to the Taluqdars." It was for the cultivators, however, to prove their right of occupation, which they were as incapable of doing, as the Taluqdars were of shewing their right to expel them. Mr Strachey did not hesitate to condemn, in full Council General, the agrarian regulations established at the time. "In my opinion," he said, "it often bears very hardly upon the ancient proprietors of the soil, whose rights had been overborne by the Taluqdars. Practically the Taluqdars have gained everything, and the holders of subordinate rights of property have gained nothing."
Act XXVI. of 1866 was passed, it is true, "for the better determination of certain claims of subordinate proprietors in Oudh;" but in order that these subordinate proprietors might enjoy the advantage of paying only a fixed rent, they had to produce proofs, which was a matter of great difficulty to them. About a tenth part of the cultivators found themselves thus protected in their occupancy by the law. Nevertheless, according to Art. 32, of the Rent Act of 1868, the rent may be increased by the court on the demand of the Taluqdar, if the rent paid is less than that generally paid in the district by persons of the same class, or if it is l2½ per cent. less than that paid by tenants with no right of occupancy. With regard to other persons, their position is likewise regulated by the same Rent Act. Article 35 of this Act says: "The court shall in no case enquire into the propriety of the rate payable by a tenant not having a right of occupancy. The rent payable by such tenant for any land in his occupation shall be such amount as may be agreed upon -between him and the landlord; or if no such agreement has been made, such amount as was payable for the land in the last preceding year." The cultivator, therefore, is obviously transformed into a tenant at will, and the rent which he has to pay is subject to the law of competition, which, as Mr Strachey remarks, in a country like India leads to the most unfortunate consequences. The only protection granted to him by the Rent Act is that he can demand from the proprietor a lease stipulating the condition of tenure (Art. 7); that eviction must be regularly notified to him (Arts. 37 and 43); and that he is entitled to compensation for permanent improvements of such a nature as to increase the letting value of the land (Arts. 23 and -24). Hence something very similar to the English agrarian system has been established in Oudh, but it does not produce the same results, because the Taluqdars do not apply a portion of their revenues as many English landlords do, to the improvement of the soil and the means of cultivating it. The cultivators have been deprived of the security of possession afforded them by custom, and subjected to the extortion of a rent regulated by competition; and the limited quasi-proprietorship of the Taluqdars has been transformed into an absolute right. The better course, according to Mr Thornton and Sir George Campbell, would, on the contrary, have been to maintain, with all necessary precautions, the system inaugurated after the annexation,that is to say, to keep the property in the hands of the small Zemindars and the village inhabitants, to allow a fixed revenue to the Taluqdars, and to reserve for the State all increase of rent Mr Thornton shews decisively that the best tax is that which the State levies, in its capacity as sole eminent proprietor of the soil. (Indian Public Works, p. 218.)
4. In the North-West Provinces, a more equitable system was introduced by the regulation of 1822, carried out for the most part by Mr Thomason. It was decided that the rights of all proprietors, great and small, and even those of the occupiers, should be recognized and registered. The government claimed two-thirds of the rent, the amount of which was to be subject to revision every thirty years. As for the ryots, they "hardly understood the distinction between hereditary occupancy and tenancyat-will, the question of eviction never having been raised." All those, who had been in uninterrupted possession for twelve years, were considered as having a right of hereditary occupancy, at a fair rent But the Act x. of 1859 recognized in the Zemindars the right of increasing the rent Fortunately, they have taken little advantage of it. In fine, in spite of many errors in the regulation of rights generally of a very vague nature, agriculture has flourished, land has acquired a high value, and the population is prosperous and contented.
5. In the Central Provinces, the revenue was collected by farmers, and the sum to be paid by the ryots was fixed by State officials. But the authorities, wishing to introduce private property absolutely, recognized these farmers as hereditary proprietors, allowing them the difference between the rent paid by the ryots and the revenue fixed by government, and whatever else they might derive from the bringing into cultivation of the waste lands assigned to each village. The State reserves the right of increasing the revenue, and of retaining the waste lands not comprised in the village domain. Under this system, the rights of the cultivators are guaranteed; but the State would have done better if it had regarded the Zemindars as collectors of revenue. It would have avoided, as Sir George Campbell points out, the complications arising from the division of inheritances; it would have had submissive and active functionaries, in the place of rapacious and insubordinate proprietors. The security afforded by a direct tenure under government is the best stimulus to agricultural improvements on the part of the cultivators. But now with no compensation for the sacrifice, the State is despoiled of a portion of its rights, which would have become very important in the future, and this for the sake of an idle class doing nothing to increase the productiveness of the soil.
6. In the provinces of Madras and Bombay, the principle of State proprietorship has been respected in its entirety. There has been no one intermediate between the cultivators and the Government. The right of each cultivator is clearly defined: and what he has to pay is either a portion of the produce, varying with the nature of the crop and commutable for a moneypayment, or a sum of money fixed for a term of thirty years. The State takes the rent directly from each holder of lands, without the intermediate joint responsibility of the village,(10) or the intervention of Zemindars, who have here disappeared. This agrarian organization is known as the "ryotwar system." The State being the sole proprietor, all uncultivated land is regarded as belonging to it, and grants are made to such persons as wish to bring it into cultivation.
Although the rent demanded by the State was too bigh, hardly leaving the cultivators the means of subsistence,the ryotwar system, as every one allows, has led to excellent results.(11) The cultivator is not at the mercy of a rapacious proprietor. The rent which he has to pay is determined by the price of commodities, and he has an absolute security for thirty years together, whereas in Europe the tenant is ordinarily liable to an increase of rent every six or nine years.
In an article published(12) by Mr Mill, combating the project of compelling all corporations to sell their landed property, this great economist extolled the system, in which, as in India or Java, the State retains possession of the soil. The rent taken by it(13) might be made high enough to replace every other impost, and then the inhabitants would, in fact, cease to pay any contribution. It is easy to see the increased facility for all kinds of industrial and commercial transactions which would result from the entire suppression of all taxes. Circumstances would be easier, at the same time as salaries would be lower, because they would no longer be subject to the deduction imposed by existing taxation. The system would present no difficulty in practice. The whole economic organization would continue to operate as at present, under the action of the law of supply and demand. The only difference would be the raising of the land-tax to the level of the present rent, or of a fair rent determined by the price of produce, and leaving a sufficient margin to recompense the cultivators for their labour, and to allow them to reap the benefit of improvements effected by them. Just as under the Ryotwar system, the tenants of the State would hold in perpetuity, at a fair rental.
The nationalization of land, thus understood, would not entail any radical modification of the existing organization of society. It would merely allow the application to purposes of the State, the provinces or communes, of the net produce of the soil, which now serves to support a certain number of individuals who render no service in return for what they receive.
Mr Fawcett(14) is of opinion that the effect of a system replacing the State in possession of the soil would be to weaken the motive of personal interest, and so to put an end to all attempts at improvement. It is easily shewn that this objection is not well founded; for in a district belonging to an English nobleman and passing with the title, the conditions are precisely the same as they would be if the State were the real proprietor and the nobleman only a collector of the rent. In the province of Bengal the state has placed the soil in the hands of large proprietors; in Bombay, it has recognised no rights in the Zemindars. The stimulus to labour has not been weakened in the latter province any more than in the former. On the contrary, the soil is better cultivated under the ryotwar system than under that of the Zemindarate. When the "nationalization" of land merely signifies that the State reserves to itself the rent in the form of a land tax, without modifying the laws which regulate the division of capital and the distribution of profits, I confess I can see no serious objection to it as regards economic laws.
Mr Fawcett also asserts that the purchase of the soil would be disastrous as a financial operation, because the State would pay at least 3½ per cent. for the money it would have to borrow, while it would only receive 2½ per cent. as revenue from the land. The observation is correct. But, admitting that the State should be placed in possession of the soil so as to receive the rent of it as revenue, this should not be effected by way of purchase. To attain its object gradually and without occasioning the least disturbance, all that is necessary is to limit collateral succession to the degree of first cousin; and to have a tax on successions generally, which should be set aside for the purpose of buying up landed property as it comes into the market. As for difficulties of administration, they would not exist. The right of persons occupying land would be transformed into a lease; and the receivers of revenue would collect the rent in place of the existing tax. In that part of the West End of London, which belongs to the Duke of Westminster, the property is managed very much in this way. Suppose the Duke's agents nominated by the Crown, and handing over their receipts to the national exchequer, and there would be no appreciable change.
England, the country where property, tied up in the hands of a few great families, is as little at the disposal of those who cultivate it as if it belonged to the State, is at the same time the country where the motive of industrial activity is most developed. It cannot, therefore, be maintained, in the face of these facts, that the nationalization of the land would weaken this motive. The system would simply be the application of the theory of the physiocrats, a single tax assessed on the soil.
An association has been formed in Australia, at Melbourne, under the name of the Land Tenure Reform League of Victoria, the object of which is to induce the State to cease from selling public lands, and only to grant leases. Mr Mill followed the labours of this league with the greatest sympathy.(15) The following were the principles on which it was started, and the object which it had in view, as given in the circular of January 5, 1872. PRINCIPLES.
1. "The revolutions that impend over society are not now from ambition and rapacity; from impatience of one or another form of government; but from new modes of thinking, which shall recompense society after a new order, which shall animate labour by love and science; which shall destroy the value of many kinds of property, and replace all property within the dominion of reason and equity." (Emerson.)
2. "The essential principle of property being to assure to all persons what they have produced by their labour, and accumulated by their abstinence, the principle cannot apply to what is not the produce of labour, the raw material of the earth." (Mill.)
3. The land is the inalienable property of the inhabitants of every country throughout all generations.
4. "No consideration ought to be paramount to that of making the land available in the highest degree for the production of food and the employment of industry."
5. Selling the fee-simple of the land is a political misdemeanour, as opposed to justice and reason, as it has proved injurious to the material and moral interests of society.
6. The alienation of the State lands gives to the landowner the whole improvement in value from the increase of population and national works. The State Landlord preserves all for the benefit of the people.
7. Land is the State capital, the primal source of food and wealth, and in parting with it our legislators have not only most iniquitously limited the field of profitable employment, but have burdened the people needlessly with double taxationthe one a highly unjust system to provide a general revenue; the other a direct tax on food and the necessaries of life, to enable landlords to live in idleness by the labour of others.
8. A rent on State lands being light, and for a manifest benefit, would meet all therequirements of a just and desirable means of raising revenue. It would be easily and cheaply collected, and would greatly reduce the expenses of government by rendering unnecessary some of the present costly and otherwise hurtful departments.
9. While strictly preserving the right of ownership in land for future generations, the greatest possible facilities for actual and productive settlement may be afforded.
10. The advantages of almost free land, and the total absence of taxation, would ensure an unexampled condition of steady progress and general prosperity.
11. With an absolute freedom from taxation, and full and unfettered scope for industry, every inhabitant of the country would enjoy a beneficial interest from his share in the stats lands, whether occupying a portion of these or not.
12. "The best political economy is the care and culture of men." And such a use of the common patrimony, the gift of God to all, would not only promote to the utmost the material welfare of society, but would raise us mentally in the scale of nations, by affording the most liberal culture of which each is capable; special privileges, which should be deemed the inherent right of every member of the community.
13. Acting on these principles we would not only do our duty to our own people by conferring on them all the advantages possible with our present knowledge of political and economic science; but would prove to the world at large what may be done for the progress of humanity by an enlightened appreciation of the circumstances in which we find ourselves placed. OBJECTS.
1. The immediate cessation of the sale of all Crown lands.
2. The fee simple of the public domain to vest in perpetuity in the State (that is the people in their corporate capacity).
3. Occupancy, with fixity of tenure, and right of transfer, subject to rental for revenue purposes.
4. Land already alienated from the State to be re-purchased by the State. No re-sale to individuals to be permitted.
5. The gradual abolition of all indirect taxes whatever. The revenue of the State to be derived solely from the rental of the land.
According to Mr R. Savage, who comments on this programme in Tract No. 7 published by the Land Tenure Reform League, the commune would manage the lands, as the Hindoo villages did formerly. It would let them, would collect the rent, would pay into the Treasury the proportion of the tax due, and would retain the rest for the local requirements of education, roads, police, &c. The numerous advantages offered by communal landed property, as compared with separate property, have been well stated by M. Préveraud, a proprietor cultivator.(16) The commune would be able to divide the land into reasonable farms, just as the English landlord does, and to apply to it a good system of manure,(17)
irrigation, and planting.
We cannot here discuss this system fully. We will merely notice a few points which seem to be beyond dispute. It is certainly a crime against posterity to alienate for a dollar an acre communal lands which, in fifty years, will be worth a hundred times as much, and the revenue of which would be sufficient to support the whole public service on a magnificent scale. To induce private enterprise to cultivate public lands, there is no necessity to alienate the fee simple: a lease for 90 years is enough, as a grant for a shorter term is sufficient in the West End of London for the construction of palatial residences, and on the Continent for the construction of all the railroads in existence. To the individual whose life is so short, a tenure of 90 years is equivalent to perpetual possession; while to the nation, the resuming possession of the soil is a guarantee of future safety.
The net produce of the soil is now absorbed by individual expenditure, which contributes nothing in itself to the advancement of the nation. Abolish all taxation which encumbers industry, and at the same time apply the revenue to encourage education, literature, and art, and to extend the means of communication: economical and intellectual progress would receive an incalculable impulse. This is what Australia and the United States might do in the future, if they granted leases of land, instead of selling it as they do now.
Mr Mill truly said that proprietors of the present day unjustly enjoy the increase in the value of their lands and rents, resulting from the general progress of society. This increase of value would accrue to the public who created it, by the gradual increase of the rent demanded by the State or the commune.
In England and in the United States, as in the middle ages, when a charitable or educational institution is established, it is founded on an endowment, which allows of its existing on the revenues accruing therefrom. Thus provision is made for an object of general utility, without its costing any one any thing. Is not this a better means than having recourse to taxation? If all public services were similarly paid entirely by the revenue of State or communal lands, would it not be an immense advantage to society?
The difficulty of administering the public domain would be nothing in comparison of that which certain States, which engage in any industry, now have to deal with. In Java, the Dutch State, regarding itself as proprietor, not only collects the rents of the lands of the dessas, but on one part of the public domain it has coffee plantations, of which it superintends the cultivation, and gathers and sells the crops.(18) The State is not contented with the part of proprietor, an easy function according to M. J. Say, but it is engaged in agriculture and commerce, which is certainly an arduous undertaking. In Belgium the State manages the railways, as complicated a work as we can conceive, demanding technical and commercial knowledge, and an organism of machine-like regularity. If the State is capable of administering a network of railways, it must be still better able to collect a rent instead of a land tax by means of its receivers. Therefore, we may admit that new States do violate the right of future generations, by taking from them their domain in the constant alienations which they effect.
Apparently some colonies are beginning to understand that they need not alienate the fee simple of their lands in order to get them cultivated. Thus in Java, a law of April 9, 1870 (Begeling der uitgifte in erfpacht van gronden in Nederlandsch Indie) empowers the government to grant hereditary leases (erfpacht) of unoccupied lands for 75 years. A law of 1867. passed in the province of Nelson, New Zealand, empowers the Board of Uncultivated Lands to grant leases of 14 years of unoccupied lands, renewable at the expiration for a new term of 14 years, at double the original rental. A lease must not comprise less than 50 acres, or more than 10,000.(19)
On the East coast of New Zealand, the Maoris have formed a league, the object of which is the total suppression of the sale of land and the substitution of leases in its place. The son of a New Zealand chief, who had been sent to London to study, and had gone through a course of law at the Temple, was at the head of the movement. The idea is ingenious; for if the Maoris lease their lands instead of selling them, they may hope to become one day proprietors of a fertile and well cultivated territory, with towns, farms and mines; and they will thus eventually have incomes to rival those of the Dukes of Westminster or Devonshire. But would it not be better if all this increase of wealth some day accrued to the State?
1. See especially the excellent treatise of Land Tenure in India, published by Sir George Campbell in the volume of the Cobden Club, quoted several times before, Systems of Land Tenure in Various Countries.
See also Ancient Tenures and Modern Land-legislation in British India, by Henry Dix Hutton, 1870.
2. Systems of Land Tenure, etc., p. 151.
3. Systems of Land Tenure, p. 229.
4. Ibid. p. 195.
5. Systems of Land Tenure, p. 168.
6. Ibid. p. 173.
7. Systems of Land Tenure, p. 174.
8. Ibid. p. 179.
9. The Order in Council said:"It must be borne in mind as a leading principle, that the desire and intention of the Government is to deal with the actual occupants of the soil, that is with village Zemindars, or with the proprietary coparcenaries which are believed to exist in Oudh, and not to suffer the interposition of middlemen, as Talnqdars, farmers of the revenue or such like..."
Lord Lytton, in a speech delivered in the sitting of the Grand Council of October 9, 1876, did this work the honour to notice it at length, stigmatizing; however, as incorrect what in the previous edition the author had written concerning Oudh. The author had, in fact, omitted to take account of certain legislative dispositions; but several highly competent authorities, whom he consulted, and also an Indian paper of considerable repute, The Pioneer Mail, Nov. 4, 1876 (Optimism in High Places), are of opinion, that his criticism of the agrarian policy pursued by the Government in Oudh, was in the main correct.In order to avoid all charge of inaccuracy, the author now principally makes use of official documents, which he owes to the graceful kindness of Lord Lytton himself, and particularly of the excellent account given by the Hon. John Strachey, Chief Commissioner of Oudh, in the General Council (July 17, 1869), when proposing the Oudh Taluqdars' Bill.
10. ["The most curious proof that the natives do not necessarily prefer the separate to the joint system, is found in the fact, published in some of the official papers of the Madras Presidency, that in that country villages were found which for halt a century had submitted to the farce of a Government assessment on each individual, but had year by year lumped the individual assessments together, and redivided the total in their own way among the members of the community."Systems of Land Tenure, p. 197, note.]
11. A remarkable increase of population and property has been shewn: thus, in the district of Bhimturi, between 1841 and 1871, the population increased 39½ per cent, the number of ploughs 22½ per cent, and the number of oxen 19 per cent. In the Chandur district, the population increased 100 per cent; the number of oxen from 8602 to 13,988. See Markham, Statement of Moral and Material Progress of India for 1878, p. 27; and Thornton, Public Works in India, p. 209.
12. In The Examiner, of January 11, 1873.
13. The amount of rent collected by the State in India amounts to £21,000,000 out of a total revenue of £50,000,000; and, as Sir Richard Temple said in his statement on the Indian budget, this revenue is constantly increasing, notwithstanding the reductions granted from time to lime. Indian Financial Statement, 1878-4.In 1793, the revenue of the provinces of Bengal, Behar and Orissa was about £3,400,000, of which £300,000 was retained by the Zemindars. Lord Cornwallis having by the permanent settlement surrendered this rent to the Zemindars, the latter are now receiving some seven or eight millions sterling, while the State to which this increase ought to accrue, has hardly made any increase in the land-tax.See Thornton, Indian Public Works, p. 222.
14. See Fortnightly Review, December 1872. The Nationalization of the Land, by H. Fawcett, M.P.
15. Shortly before his death he wrote to Mr John Ross of Melbourne: "I am very glad to see the progress of the Land Tenure move in Victoria. Now is the time to stop the alienation of public lands, before the great mass of them is granted away."Mr W. Gresham, of Sandridge (Victoria), who was at the head of this movement, was unfortunately drowned in a boat accident in May 1875. The league had published seven tracts, which are worth reading.
16. L'Eglise et le peuple par M. Edmond Préveraud, Paris, 1872.
17. The town of Groningen in Holland has transformed a vast bog into fertile fields by applying to it, in a scientific manner, the sewage, so generally wasted. See the author's Economie rurale de la Néerlande, p. 238.It is an example which cannot be too distinctly commended to other countries.
18. In Java, State cultivation attains enormous proportions. In 1873, sugar occupied 27,460 hectares, and coffee about 176,252 hectares. In 1872, the sugar demanded the labour of 220.706 persons; and the coffee that of 708,980 families, or about 2,000,000 persons.The cultivation of sugar brought the State an income of 4,318,982 forms; that of coffee in 1871, 40,488,422 forms in Java and Menado, and 6,674,159 florins in Sumatra: in all a total of 47,162,581 florins, deducting 15,240,108 as the cost of production.The rent of land gives the State a further revenue of 15,000,000 Some, and the tin mines of Banca, also worked by the State, 5,992,869 forms in 1871. It is estimated, that the rent of land does not exceed 10 per cent. of the gross produce, which is extremely little.The net surplus, paid into the exchequer of the Mother Country, amounted in 1871 to 25,688,951 florins. In Java, the population increases more rapidly than anywhere elseit amounted to 17,298,300 at the end of 1872and its condition improves at the same time, which is a proof that the production of wealth does not suffer by State monopoly.The author owes the preceding data to the kindness of M. Fraussen Van de Putte, colonial minister of the Netherlands.
In Belgium, France, and most other countries, hospitals have various properties, which they manage perfectly. It would not be more difficult to administer all the lands of the commune. In Russia, the State receives the revenue of all the Crown lands, which comprise a great part of the territory. England presents another example of a department administering vast landed estates in the board which administers the church property, coming from the fusion of particular ecclesiastical foundations. The income amounted in 1872, to £1,253,245.See Twenty-fifth Report from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England.
Another very interesting example of a vast territory managed by a collective administration, is that of the Société autrschienne, the Staats-Bahn, which received from the State in Austria an area of 130,000 hectares, with 135,000 inhabitants.The Society has improved the agriculture of the district, has opened coal and iron mines, regulated the management of forest, created manufactures and so considerably increased the general production. It is not therefore impossible for a collective corporation to perform the part of a great landowner, with advantage to all concerned. On this subject see the article by M. Bailleux de Marisy, Revue des Deux Mondes, April, 1874.
19. An Act for Leasing Crown Lands in the Province of Nelson, New Zealand, anno tricesimo primo Victoriae reginae, No. 51.