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HEA VI" RA TES. IT IS SURPRISING to find that some of the strug- gling shop-keepers, especially in our seaside re- sorts, are opposed to the land clauses of the Bud- get. They complain of the harassing burdens which impede their prosperity, and yet they fail to realise that these burdens are the result of the land monopoly which the Budget seeks to remove. They say they are hampered by heavy railway freights and high local rates. Bu t they do not perceive that these heavy railway freights and high local rates are an inevitable conse- quence of our existing land system and that the aim of the Budget is to lighten the load which presses so sorely upon them. Railway freights are heavy because the landowners charge such exorbitant prices for the land upon which rail- ways are built. Local rates are high because they are not fairly distributed, if they may be said to be distributed at all. The man who lays out his money on a fine shop is penalised by the local authorities for so doing the landlord whose land is thereby improved goes scot-free. It is the sites and not the shops that should be rated. The greater the enterprise shown by the shop- keeping community of a town, the more valu- able does the land in the neighbourhood be- come, but that land contributes practically no- thing to the cost of local government, the bur- den of which is cast upon the shoulders of those who have already made great sacrifices on be- half of the community. In the same way the building trade is hampered. Everywhere the need is for more room, more houses, more land to build houses on and yet the present system ac- tually bestows a premium on the dog-in-the- manger person who keeps his sites unoccupied, and penalises everybody who builds and im- proves, just in proportion as he does build or improve. People do not realise the full signi- ficance of the reform which Mr. Lloyd George seeks to achieve. Take municipal life, and the activities of local government what is bringing to a standstill nearly every advance there ? The oppression of rates. And why are rates so op- pressive ? Because their burden falls on the wrong shoulders, and does not fall on the right ones. How the ratepayer is hit in both ways one case, now very familiar, will show. Early in 1908 the Northumberland County Council bought three-quarters of an acre of land from the Duke of Northumberland to build a school on. The assessment of the site for rating had been £ 17s. and its price to the Council was, exclusive of law costs, /698 15s.6d. Clearly either the assessment was too low or the price too high almost certainly both were wrong and, unfortun- ately, the case is only too typical. What does a merchant, a warehouse owner, a millowner, or a shop-keeper mean when he bewails the pinch of the rates ? He means (whether he knows it or not) the pinch of the rates on buildings and improvements. The rates on his site do not hurt him much they mostly come, and with a better system could all come, frorajfiis landlord's pocket. It is the rate on the buildings and improvements that comes from his own pocket and for every extension of his mill, every room added to his offices, every plate- glass window added to his shop, he has directly or indirectly to pay rates, directly or indirectly to feel the pinch of high rates. Why, then, op- pose a just reform of this anomaly ? It is very difficult indeed to understand such opposition. Such a reform has long been badly needed. Clearly the existing one-sided system is unjust. It is not Tariff Reform that will ease the burden that is crushing the urban ratepayer. What is wanted is Land Reform and Rating Reform and these are the boons which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is endeavouring to obtain for those who need them.

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