Selections from The Chancellor of the Exchequer's (Lloyd-George)
Budget Statement 29 April 1909

LAND KEPT OUT OF MARKET

HC Deb 29 April 1909 vol 4 cc536-7 536

There is another aspect of this matter which I should like to say a word upon before I come to the actual proposals of the Government. I have dwelt upon the fundamental difference in the demeanour of landowners towards their urban tenants and that which under the inspiration of more high-minded and public-spirited principles guide their conduct towards their agricultural tenants. There is no doubt that the spirit of greed is unconsciously much more dominant and unrestrained in the former case. One disastrous result of this is that land which is essential to the free and healthy development of towns is being kept out of the market in order to enhance its value, and that towns are cramped and their people become overcrowded in dwellings which are costly without being comfortable. You have only to buy an ordnance survey map and put together the sheets which include some town of your acquaintance and the land in its immediate vicinity, and you will see at once what I mean. You will find, as a rule, your town or village huddled in one corner of the map, dwellings jammed together as near as the law of the land will permit, with an occasional courtyard, into which the sunshine rarely creeps, but with nothing that would justify the title of "garden." For it is the interest of the landlord to pile together on the land every scrap of bricks and mortar that the law will allow. And yet outside square miles of land unoccupied, or at least unbuilt upon; land in the town seems to let by the grain, as if it were radium. Not merely towns, but villages (and by villages and towns I mean the people who dwell in them) suffer extremely from the difficulty which is experienced in obtaining land, and by the niggardliness with which sites are measured out.

You cannot help feeling how much healthier and happier the community could have been made in these towns and villages if they had been planned on more spacious and rational principles, with a reasonable allowance of garden for every tenant, which would serve as a playground, as vegetable and flower garden, for the workman and his family, and which would even, in many districts, help materially to solve the problem of unemployment.

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