Page:The Settled Estates Act, 1882.djvu/10

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the reverse of the proposition, viz., that the State should be answerable to the landlord for any depreciation of land,—would be impracticable to carry out, and would obviously sap the very mainsprings of national enterprise. These are merely instances of the extravagant theories calmly broached and advocated before audiences of unreflecting and ignorant people. But time does not allow more than a passing glance at these questions. Let us turn to consider what objects the State should have in view, and how far it is justified in regulating the tenure of land.

Objects and Limitations of State Interference.Now, I take it, that it is not the function of the State to interfere with the accumulation of property; in other words, it is not its business to regulate the number of acres a man may hold: neither can the State be concerned to interfere with the power of free disposition of land, so far as such powers are not exercised to the detriment of the community. The only concern of the State is to see: (1) that there is nothing allowed to interfere with the natural economic laws of supply and demand, in the distribution and transmission of land; (2) that such land is so used and cultivated, as to conduce to the best welfare of the community—no doubt, even in England, where the food of the people is, by the operation of free trade, made almost independent of the home supply, it is still important that no obstacle be placed to the proper cultivation of the land, and that land should not be allowed to go out of cultivation; (3) that the great farming interest should be adequately protected, and the capital invested in the soil properly secured; (4) that land shall not be so tied up as to be unsaleable by its owner. These, as far as I understand the proper