|Rushden Echo, 20th March 1908, transcribed by Kay Collins
Small Holdings for Rushden
Important Meeting Mr. Graff’s Explanation of the Act
|A meeting under the auspices of the newly formed Rushden Small Holdings Society was held on Tuesday evening in the Alfred-street girls’ school, Rushden, Mr. W. Bazeley presiding in the absence of Mr. F. Ballard.
The chairman explained that the meeting had been called for the purpose of hearing a speech by Mr. Graff, of the Agricultural Organisation Society. There is a desirethe Chairman proceededon the part of the local applicants to know all about the Small Holdings Act and the successful working of the measure. Lord Carrington, in the House of Lords on Monday, said that the new Act had been taken up pretty well by the various County Councils in the country, and he paid a high tribute to the County Councils for the way in which they were administering the Act. Already, Lord Carrington said,
had applied for small holdings, for a total amount of 14,000 acres. We have not heard much as yet from the Northants County Council as to what they are doing. Probably they are working out the scheme, and we are anxiously waiting to know what they propose to do and how far they are prepared to administer this Act.
In the course of his address Mr. Graff said: In passing the Small Holdings and Allotments Act of 1907 the Government started with this principlethat where there is a deserving man who is in a position to make a success of allotments and small holdings, and he needs land for that purpose, he should be able to obtain it, and should be able also to obtain it at more or less the same rent that the big farmers pay.
The Act cheapens the process of getting the land all the way through.
Under the Act there is to be no additional money paid to the landlord just because the land is taken compulsorily.
It may be asked, “What guarantee have you that this Act will work
Better than Previous Acts
have done?” We have this guaranteethat a special Government Department has been brought into operation to see that this Act does work.
The Government had tremendous fath in this movement for small holdins. They have given the Commissioners powers to go into any locality, and, where there is no demand, if they think that small holdings would be beneficial to the people, the Commissioners can acquire land and bring people into the district to carry on the small holdings, so as to give the local people an object lesson as to what can be done. That shows the great faith the Government have in this movement.
Whom will this Act benefit? The Act does not mean that anyone who thinks he would like a small holding can apply for it and get it. The Act says that where there is a demand for small holdings it is the duty of the Councils
To Meet That Demand
as far as is reasonably practicable. The Act distinctly states that the Councils, in putting this Act into operation, are not to incur any loss. Therefore, it will be the duty of the Councils to see that the men who apply for small holdings are in a position to make them pay.
I believe this Act will bring back a contented class of small farmers who are going to make the land useful, which is not always useful now.
The Council may erect any building on the land which shall be requiredhouses, barns, stables, pig-styes, etc.
As to the best method of working this Act, we suggest that where there are applicants for small holdings and allotments they should form themselves into a local association with defined rules. The society shall be registered so that it has
A Legal Standing.
There should be shares in the society, and each member should hold at least one share. In Mid Northants I have had to do with forming 14 of these local societies. We suggest the shares should be of the value of £1. If a man takes one acre he shall take one £1 share; if he takes 50 acres he shall have five shares. The amount to paid up at starting is 5s. a share. The balance can be called up at any time, but experience has shown that it has never been necessary to call up the whole. The man thus has an interest in his society. The members who want land would give in their names to their secretary. The secretary would put in one united application, telling the County Council that the Rushden Small Holdings Association want, say 400 acres, half pasture, half arable. That joint application goes in to the County Council. Then the duty of the County Council will be to send down from their Allotments Committee a sub-committee, who would thrash the matter out with you. You would tell them what land you thought suitable. Then they would make inquiries from the tenants and the landlords, and so on. Assuming that they are
Able to Obtain the 400 Acres,
Not where you suggest, but the nearest, they will ask you if this will do. If you find it would work out satisfactorily to your members you could say so. You would then ask the County Council to put up certain buildings. The Council would estimate the cost and ask you if you were prepared to sign an agreement. If you were satisfied, the whole thing could go through. Your society would be responsible for the whole of the rent. The society in turn would let out the land to its members as sub-tenants. The members would be responsible for the rent of their plot to the society. Thus you would take very great care to let the land only to those who are likely to make it pay, and you would keep out those who are likely to fail. When you get your society working you will want to make purchasesseeds, manures, implements, etc. Your secretary could send in one united order and thus get far better terms. With regard to the disposal of the produce, in Mid Northants we have formed
A Central Society
and have affiliated the village societies to it and that central society will have to keep in touch with all the markets in the kingdom. Thus you would get the railway rates down at least one half, and there are many other savings, for instance, in insurance. By this central society a man will dispose of his produce to the very best advantage.
A large number of questions were asked and answered.
Mr. Graff said the number of failures should be very small indeed. All the way through, the Act advised hiring the land rather than buying it. Under the Act a man hired from the public authority and thus they got absolute security of tenure. Under previous Acts a man could only get absolute security of tenure by buying the land and finding one-fifth of the purchase money straight away.
A hearty vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Graff.
In reply Mr. Graff said he was sure the result of this movement would be such a revolution that before many years this country would again be “Merry England.”