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3-257 (Raw)

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author,male,Higinbotham, George,43 addressee
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Clark, 1975
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3-257-raw.txt — 2 KB

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We are here in a country endowed with enormous wealth, with a large surface of rich territory, which it is now our object, and has been for years, to distribute, as justly as we can, among the great bulk of the people who desire to settle upon that land, at a price lower than its market value. [116] That is our desire. Now what is the difficulty with which any people or any Government having this object in view is immediately met? The difficulty is the competition of capital. In that struggle of capital against those who have no capital, whom it is desired to endow with a portion of the advantages resulting from the public possession of the lands, capital is always sure to gain the victory. If you enact legal provisions by which you direct every person who wants a piece of land worth £100 to get it, by means of legal machinery, for £50, and if the poor man, in availing himself of this legal means of obtaining the land, is exposed to the competition of the rich man, who can doubt who will be successful? In such a competition the few will always overcome the many. Wealth will always outstrip poverty; and fraud will always outweigh simplicity. Surely experience has confirmed these observations, which would arise a priori if we had no experience to guide us. Has not all our experience in land legislation in this country shown that, unless there be an arbitrary power outside the courts of law - not dependent upon any legal machinery either for its existence, or for the means of carrying out its decrees - those who are eager to obtain land, and are willing to obtain it by unjust and fraudulent means, if assisted and backed by capital, will always succeed in getting it, to the prevention of the poorer man, who, without capital, seeks to obtain a share of this advantage? All our land legislation has failed, so far as it has failed, simply from this cause.
It is idle to say that land legislation can meet and defeat the various contrivances of fraud. Those contrivances are so numerous, and the means of resisting them, if absolute power be not given, so weak, that - I care not how carefully your Acts are framed - if men are tempted by strong inducements of avarice, and are provided with legal means to effect their object, the State will be defrauded, and the poor man for whom you wish to legislate will be utterly defeated. Therefore, I avow that while I regard these large powers i.e. for the Minister as an essential part of this Bill, I am prepared to support the Bill because it contains these powers, and I should not be prepared to support any Land Bill which did not contain them.