[UPDATE 30 May 2013 This blog is an edited version of the one published yesterday (pdf copy here) in which I incorrectly argued that there was only one review promised in the SNP manifesto. There were in fact two as explained below. However, this fact does not change the substance of my argument. Why are farm tenancies being removed from the scope of land reform to be dealt with on their own?]

Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment for the past six years, told a conference yesterday that “the future of land tenure is one of the biggest issues facing the future development of rural Scotland“. Here is his speech in full. He was speaking at a National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) seminar entitled A Vision for Land Tenure: 2020. (1)

In his speech he announced a new review of farm tenancy legislation.

Now this is interesting because the Land Reform Review Group (LRRG) has been given the task of coming up with radical proposals to take forward land reform but, in its Interim Report published last week, it said that it would be taking no further interest in land tenure as it affected Scotland’s tenant farmers (see my previous post for a fuller discussion). This was a shock to all those who had submitted evidence on the topic and particularly to tenant farmers some of whom, as the report noted, were “fearful of speaking at open meetings, or even of putting their concerns on paper, because of possible recriminations should their landlord hear they were expressing these views in public.” They thus (mistakenly as it happens) placed some faith in this independent review of land reform to address their concerns. Yesterday, Mr Lochhead announced a separate review of agricultural tenancies.

All of which is rather confusing. The rationale for a separate review was that two separate reviews were promised in the SNP election manifesto in 2011. The relevant part of Lochhead’s speech is as follows.

11. This event is very timely, because we are at an important stage of the government’s work in this area.

12. That work includes two separate reviews, as set out in our election manifesto back in 2011.

13. The first review is the one being run by the Land Reform Review Group, who recently published their interim report.

14. That report set out a range of areas to be investigated more fully during the next phase. The group’s intention is to collect more evidence, by speaking to   those involved at the heart of those issues, before presenting recommendations to the Scottish Government.

15. Meanwhile, the government has also been committed to a separate review of farm tenancy legislation.

He then continues,

22. However there’s one thing I can make clear even today.

23. We were always committed to two separate reviews, and now the Land Reform Review Group has decided to focus on other issues for the remainder of their work.

24. So I want to confirm today that all the issues on farm tenancies raised during the Land Reform Review Group’s work will not be lost. They will be carried forward and looked at very carefully in the farm tenancies review.

I have read the SNP election manifesto carefully and the topic is covered on page 39. It states that,

We will amend the Agricultural Holdings Act to support tenant farmers and will work to encourage new entrants. We also believe that when a farm business is being passed from one generation to the next it should be easier for the successor to build a home on the farm where required.”

So no mention of a review there – simply a clear commitment to amend the legislation which most Governments do by holding a consultation, drafting legislation and introducing a Bill to Parliament.

On the same page, under the heading “Land Reform” it states that,

We believe it is time for a review of Scotland’s land reform legislation. For example, we believe the current period for three months for communities to take advantage of their right of first purchase is too short, and we would wish to see it extended to six months. We will establish a Land Reform Review Group to advise on this and other improvements which we will legislate on over the course of the next five years.”

Scotland’s land reform legislation is the body of statute that emerged from the work of the Land Reform Policy Group chaired by Lord Sewel from 1997-1999. it is all laid out on the Scottish Government’s website and it includes the question of agricultural holdings legislation which also formed an explicit part of the remit of the LRRG (Annex A here). The task of the LRRG is to “review Scotland’s land reform legislation“.

However, the SNP also published a farming manifesto which states that.

We will work with the sector to increase the amount of land available for rent and bring in the legislative changes already proposed and review the effectiveness of the amended act within 18 months.”

The legislative changes referred are now included in the Agricultural Holdings (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2012 which received Royal Assent on 12 July 2012. The review promised in the farming manifesto is only of this amended Act and does not address the many issues tenant farmers raised with the Land Reform Review Group.

All of which gives rise to a number of questions.

Given that the LRRG has dropped the issue, will the remit of this second review be broadened out beyond a simple review of the effectiveness of the 2012 Act?

Why exactly has the LRRG dropped this topic from the mainstream of land reform?

Why, if farm tenancies were indeed “always” to be the subject of a separate review, was this not made clear at the beginning of the LRRG process?

Why, if farm tenancies were “always” to be the subject of a separate review, were tenants led to believe that the LRRG would be considering these issues, were encouraged to provide evidence and indeed were involved in face to face meetings in the field?

Did Scottish Ministers exert any influence over the LRRG to drop any further consideration of farm tenancies?

Land reform is an integrated programme of work designed to do four things.

1.reform land tenure

2.redistribute land

3. provide a fiscal framework for land & property

4. establish appropriate governance arrangements for land relations

That, more or less, is what the Land Reform Policy Group did in 1977-1999.

Why is the Scottish Government messing around with this issue and passing one of the most pressing land reform issues to another as yet unknown review process to be announced “after the summer break“?

What on earth is going on?

 

(1) two of the presentations given at the seminar are available – Phil Thomas, Chair of Tenant Farming Form and Clive Phillips of Brodies, Solicitors.

UPDATE 30 MAY 2013 2115hrs

The Chair of the LRRG gave a speech to the AGM of Scottish Land and Estates on Tuesday 21 May. It was given from notes and no written speech was published but I understand that she said that the farm tenancy issues was dropped due to “timescales and lack of specialist knowledge”.

The timescale of the LRRG from July 2012 to April 2014 is a generous 20 months. Members & advisers were appointed by Scottish Ministers who presumably were fully aware of what specialist knowledge the members and advisers have. It is reasonable to conclude therefore that the lack of specialist knowledge was by design not accident. The Scottish Government press release of 24 July 2013 states clearly that advisers would be appointed “with expertise in areas such as property and land issues, economics, legal issues, community-led organisations, landownership, forestry and access“.

85 Comments

  1. Alastair McIntosh

    Well Andy, whatever’s gone on in response to the LRRG’s interim report, the good news in this is that the tenant farmers are not now going to be thrown at the mercy of the TFF. Have you seen the TFF’s logo? It has Scottish Land & Estates (otherwise better known and loved as the SLF) lording it over the other partners at the top of the circle. http://www.tenantfarmingforum.org.uk/tff/ . Incidentally, much is made by the lairds of the claim that the tenant farmers’ assoc are not pushing for a right to buy. If I understand correctly, this is only because they do not want the supply of rented land to dry up, and move from family farmers to soul-less farm management companies. That’s not an argument for not having a right to buy. Rather, it’s an argument for land reform that drives at the holding of farmland purely as a business or speculative activity, and not as something that supports “agri-culture” – the culture of the fields, and with it, the resilience and character of the Scottish people.

    Reply

  2. The only way to “fairly” implement land reform is to capture the “values” of land, ALL land, not the buildings (the Capital) on the land. Of course there are exceptions in national parks, etc. Those who own land in desirable locations pay a higher levy. Desirable locations offer more amenities and financial advantages than those in less desirable areas. Those who own land in less valuable areas pay less of course. For e.g., one acre in Mayfair in London will pay a very high levy than one acre in the wilds of Scotland. It is auto-scalable with no government intervention.

    The levy is set on the “full rentable value of the ‘land’ only”.

    So how does all this redistribute land and rectify the legacy of our unjust past? Currently those who own vast acres of land pay NOTHING if it is laying there idle and non-productive. To slap us in the face, we pay some of them to keep it idle. If land is not put to productive use the speculator/hoarder will have top pay the full levy on the land when its is not generating income. If they cannot make the land productive they sell it to someone who can. Land Value Taxation prods them to make land productive or get rid. Land Value Tax auto-distributes land and collects “economic ” rent. “economic rent” is when there is no enterprise or cost of production, in short wealth commonly created. “economic rent” can be termed as “economic free-loading”. Then Geonomics auto-distributes land without any seizing of land.

    Of course the planning system needs relaxing as this can stop the sale of land in rural areas. Land Value Tax also stops harmful land speculation in urban areas. Vacant lots, derelict land and empty buildings are sold or put to good use – this occurred in Harrisburg in the USA. Then denser and more vibrant desirable districts are created.

    Land Value Tax cannot be avoided and is very cheap to gather. Land cannot be taken to an off-shore tax haven.

    All this via a tax shift. The only change of a law is relaxing the planning system.

    Reply

    • Can you give an example rural land in Scotland which lies “idle and non-productive”? (I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, I’m trying to understand the facts underpinning the arguments.)

      Reply

      • Huge swathes of Scottish lands, owned by the Lairds lays idle. The disproportion of aristocratic ownership of land is far greater in Scotland than in England. The point is that if they paid a levy on all the land on its value, they would make it productive or sell up.

        Scotland & Wales haves the power to introduce LVT, England does not. The city of Liverpool tried to get LVT, and even had US advisors in, to eliminate the derelict and abandoned buildings and plots in the city (Liverpool FC are great offenders) but Whitehall men went up to beat them down. Harrisburg and Pittsburgh in the USA almost eliminated abandoned buildings by LVT introduction.

        Speculators who currently pay zero in tax when a building is uninhabitable sit there and get rich in their sleep as land values rise. Land values of which they had no part in creating. The building (the Capital) means sweet nothing. In the UK approx. 2/3 of house value is the land value, not the bricks sitting on the land. In London it can be 99%.

        Reply

        • John I understand the argument in principle (I think), I’m trying to understand how it might apply in practice to Scotland in a rural context. I asked you for an example of land which lies “idle and non-productive” and you replied by saying “huge swathes of Scottish lands, owned by the Lairds.” But that doesn’t really answer my question – what I mean is can you give me an example of the sort of land you’re talking about? You don’t have to name a particular place, just describe a typical piece of these swathes you’re talking about. Thanks.

          Reply

          • Neil, lots of land in Scotland is not used to full production. The grouse moors come to mind. Much land is not given over to more productive use. The planning system corals people into tight urban areas. The few people who own most of Scotland land regard it as their own private estate. Much the same in the rest of the UK. Only in the past 5 to 8 years were parts of Scotland opened up to allow Scotsmen to actually see it !!!! Only game keepers had ever seen it, and of course the Laird and his cronies. A ludicrous situation in a country where all land is “owned” by the state.

            In 2000 Britain enacted a “right to roam” in the Countryside, the Rights of Way Act. The act opens up all private land classified as mountain, moor, heath, or down to the public for hiking and picnicking. The act represents a return to a “functional” rather than “spatial” form of land ownership, allowing more than one party to have rights in a particular piece of land. This is an important milestone on the move to land being given back to the people, from the theft of the past.

            Land Value Tax will auto-redistribute over time completing the redistribution. Monopolies commissions can also ensure land is not monopolized. Even owning one acre is monopolizing that one acre, as it prevents others from accessing that land.

            Of course, there is no need to forcibly seize and redistribute land. It can be done in a much more subtle way by a tax shift – LVT – and at the same time reclaim “economic rent” – common wealth. OK the Lairds will gain by selling the land rather than it being taken off them. So be it. They can live 5 star lives for ever more and still not lift a finger. No one will weep for them. Their free lunches, at our expense must come to an end.

            Note 1: All land in the UK is owned by the Crown. You do not own land, you occupy it. You have occupation “title”. When you “buy” land you get a map with the location on the sovereign territory and set of rights. “freehold” means you “hold” the land “free” of charge from the state. You can transfer the title.

            Note1: LVT is not a new concept. LVT is used extensively around the world.: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore – all dynamic economies. Also Denmark, parts of USA and Auss, NZ. Newly introduced to Estonia, USSR, etc. Post WW2 Taiwan was own by a few families. LVT put the wrong to right and created world techno super-power. When land is owned a few people poverty is increased. Winston Churchill was great fan of Land Value Tax. The only war he ever lost was to the British landlords.

      • It is perhaps unfortunate that the term ‘idle and non-productive’ was used rather than ‘not utilised to its full social and productive potential’.
        The latter term could be applied to virtually every tenanted farm in Scotland, not as criticism of the tenants, but of the very relationship such arrangements invariably imply between the triangle of tenant, landowner and the land itself.
        The term could also readily be applied to vast tracts based largely on ‘sporting’ activities, or privacy priorities, as often preferred by large estate owners.
        LVT, or LRV for those who prefer to dispute the difference, could be readily designed to improve the social and productive efficiency of land use and management.

        Reply

        • OK, John – grouse moors as an example of land “not being utilised to its full social and productive potential”. I may be guilty of a lack of imagination, but what else can you use a grouse moor for apart from grazing sheep, forestry, a wind farm, a quarry perhaps. And if any particular moor is not already being used for one of these purposes, then that would tend to indicate it’s not suitable for them. Contrary to popular myth, “lairds” are pretty astute at seeking out more profitable uses for their land.

          (Also John, I think you write from an English perspective. The CROW Act doesn’t apply in Scotland (we have separate legislation) and your Note 1 (the first one) about all land in the UK belonging to the Crown doesn’t apply in Scotland either. It used to – in theory, though not in practice, – but the relevant laws to that effect were abolised in 2004. Andy will confirm this.)

          Tom – if you think tenant farms are “not being utilised to their full social and productive potential” (can you link to any research to demonstrate that?), then you would also have to include about 95% of crofts as well. How will LVT (or whatever you call it) operate in practice to correct under (as opposed to “non”) utilisation? Will individual properties be assessed and if they’re below par utilisation, then they get their LVT ramped up until the owner mends his ways or is forced out?

          Reply

          • Neil – Yes, my own lifetime’s research into what is the best tenure for both mankind and the holding itself for that land allocated to a farm business.
            With this in mind, LVT would discriminate favourably toward owner occupation of farms and against multiple farm enterprises and landholdings with undeveloped potential for human habitation and enterprise.
            Yes, balance the tax to achieve the desired outcome.

          • “How will LVT (or whatever you call it) operate in practice to correct under (as opposed to “non”) utilisation? Will individual properties be assessed and if they’re below par utilisation, then they get their LVT ramped up until the owner mends his ways or is forced out?”

            LVT is what is says. A levy on the value of land, nothing else. If the value drops over a year, so does the levy, as is the opposite. It would be in the interest of a landowner to get the land as productive as possible. Isn’t Scottish sheep farming a cover for mass ownership of land by a few?

            In a full national LVT, there would be no income or sales tax. Also LVT funds infrastructure seamlessly. An e.g., is rapid-transit rail. The London Jubilee Line costed £3.4bn of taxpayers money to construct. The land values around the line immediately rose a conservative £14bn. A one line could have been built by the value pocketed by private individuals. Economic growth creating infrastructure makes landowners rich in their sleep. Hong Kong built a full metro by using only revenues gained from land – they did not dip into revenues gained from income taxes. Taxes gained from land keep income and corporation taxes low in Hong Kong encouraging enterprise. It is self financing. LVT’s knock-on effects are phenomenal. One of the best is that harmful land speculation is near eliminated and constructive and productive enterprise encouraged. This occurred in Denmark in the early 1960s.

            Boom & bust is a natural effect of the flawed Capitalist system we run under. The peaks and troughs are cyclic and can be near enough predicted. Failure is built into the system. Boom & bust is eliminated with LVT, as reclaiming “economic rent”, via LVT acts as an economic stabilizer. Stability encourages enterprise. Not surprisingly, few economists have nailed the root of the boom & bust problem, never mind find a suitable auto-controlling stabilizing solution.

          • Land Rental Value is only levied at the maximum permitted use under planning law and whether the owner uses that land to that maximum permitted use or not he will be due to pay. Therefor, there is no incentive to do nothing and since LRV replaces direct taxes on labour/enterprise there is a further incentive to carry out economic activity. LRV is not levied on houses or farm buidings so there is a further incentive to make these better and use them more productively.

  3. The Scottish & UK Greens have Land Value Tax as an official policy.

    Reply

    • But is the “full levy” you talk of Green Party policy? These papers Andy Wightman has written are only about tinkering around to replace Council Tax and business rates – to produce roughly the same revenue with only slight redistributions as regards CT. Can you direct me to a link to a Green Party policy statement saying they will introduce the “full levy” to achieve the auto-distribution you’re describing.

      Reply

      • Neil, they do not state what percentage they will introduce it at and some in the Greens want first to eliminate Council Tax then gradually introduce on a national scale to eliminate Income & Sales taxes. BUT!! if it is the lowest level it is the thin end of the wedge to greater introduction. Some is better than none at all.

        Only the Greens are full on in any form of Land Valuation Taxation. The LibDems are very strong with an active pressure group, Alter, within the party. The Labour Party have the active, but growing, pressure group, the Labour Land Campaign. The Tories have none.

        Reply

      • I am currently proposing such within the Scottish Democratic Alliance, which has at least engaged with the principle of Land Rental Value ( NB the correct title as opposed to ‘land value tax’, which has been a self-destructor for 100 years). In essence however, I believe John is correct in outlining the potential for a full recovery of the societally created LRV for public revenue,to facilitate a more extensive and democratic private tenure system without wholesale strategic state expropriation. I take your point about ‘idle and unproductive’ and like you have empathy with John in respect of why he used the expression. I think we can justifiably say that there is a large area, especially in the uplands, that is not operating at its true biological and/or agricultural potential. I am reminded in this by the reactions of Norwegian farmers from Rogaland/Vestagder I took on a visit to Glen Tilt/ Glenfender in 1985, after a study trip to Norway with Angus McHattie in 1984. Shock, horror and disbelief hardly covered their degree of incredulity. ‘We ‘d be having a fist fight in Norway to get land of this potential in our hills’ was one of the telling quotes, but not as telling as the one later during a broader discussion of land tenure/use in the Highlands ‘ah yes’ said one of the Norwegians,’but Scotland is an occupied country’

        Reply

        • @Ron “Land Rental Value ( NB the correct title as opposed to ‘land value tax’, ”

          There are many. Land Reclaim Charge, as (LVT) is NOT a tax. It reclaims community created wealth for community purposes. Common wealth pays for common services. Simple. The land value lift was not created by the landowner – economic fact. Community created economic growth soaked into the land crystalizing as Land Values. This value is reclaimed to pay for our services.

          Reply

          • well if it is not tax, which I am very well aware of, then don’t use an expression for it which includes the word ‘tax’

        • Ron: “‘ah yes’ said one of the Norwegians, ’but Scotland is an occupied country’”

          The occupation is by its own people.

          Reply

          • no he meant, occupied by an external power, as Norway was until 1905.

          • Scotland is NOT occupied. It was a merger, a union, hence the union flag. I see no occupation troops.

          • English Parliamentarian just after the Union ‘ we have catched Scotland and we are going to hold her fast’

            The Union of 1707 was a de facto conquest, perhaps a rear window entry rather than a front door crashing one as in Ireland, but a conquest nonetheless, through a conditional surrender. The emptiness of the Highlands and the ruins of past settlements indicate that Scotland is not occupied by its own people.

      • This is the Scots Green’s document on LVT. Very good:
        http://www.andywightman.com/docs/LVTREPORT.pdf

        Reply

    • yes. this a most useful publication indeed, despite the use of another 3 letter word for bad(tax) in its title it also very usefully highlights that Scotland’s’ land’ also comprises the marine solum of its territorial waters.

      Reply

  4. Good piece, Andy, but ‘plus ca change…’
    “The general conclusion is that the consultation model, having been adopted by the centralist establishment, has tended to set parameters, to divide and exhaust consultees, and thus to provide more the appearance of decentralisation than the substance (empowerment, transformation), or as Pablo Leal has it,

    “Official development has largely co-opted participatory processes, reducing them to technocratic machinations, designed mostly to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the ‘delivery’ of development packages, rather than transform the dominant power structures which perpetuate people’s marginalisation and powerlessness.” –Pablo Leal

    Can centralism decentralise? On the deeper question as to whether it actually possible for the centre to decentralise, perhaps time will tell, but for the moment, centralism is alive and well in our devolved Scotland. The verdict on the efforts to decentralise is “Not Proven.” ”

    http://home2.btconnect.com/tipiglen/consultation.html

    Yours Aye,
    ed

    Reply

  5. Perhaps the vitriol poured on the SNP after the LRRG report has had an effect? who knows?
    The resignation of 2 of the 3 members of the LRRG shows it is a farce. Just like the TFF.
    Lochhead was pretty robust yesterday and the lairdy lackeys did not like it at all.
    They scuttled off early back under their stones.

    Reply

    • I think you and Tom Gray are correct and I hope my letter in the Scotsman yesterday helped a smidgeon at least. Embarrassing them in various public fora might gee them on a bit, but they’ll only move as far as they are kicked.

      Reply

  6. Whatever is going on Andy it has sure as hell lit a fire in the bellies of many, and that in itself is positive.
    NFUS, STFA, TFF, all riddled with self interest, hence guilt while trying to effect movement in the public interest.
    No chance, and no wonder the LRRG virtually threw in the towel trying to unravel the double speak from those doing most of the talking.

    Reply

  7. Fred Harrison explains how the Corporation of Glasgow could have lead the nation in the alleviation of poverty and increased economic prosperity…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtZ-uOaLZdA

    A good short video by Fred Harrison…..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZkfmY1PMng

    More by Fred Harrison..
    http://www.fredharrison.com/?cat=3

    Swedish titles but all videos in English.
    http://www.landskatt.se/videos.html

    Reply

    • Now how does one create an extensive private property owning social democracy with this concentration. Looks though as if we could collect the LRV on half the country pretty quickly!!

      Reply

      • LVR (LVT), I prefer calling it LVR to LVT. It is quick and easy to implement LRV on all land. Assessing the value. Estate agents are adept at such valuations. And as I have mentioned, land’s location is known to the inch and cannot be taken off-shore – so avoidance and evasion is eliminated. It is very cheap to collect, reducing government expenditure substantially in collection costs.

        Reply

        • Spot on John. The problem I’ve found in talking to people about it is that they have an enormity of the simplicity and a simplicity of the enormity problem at first, but as the penny drops then anger about how we’ve all been ripped off. Yes, and Scotland’s highly concentrated tenure and highly defined boundaries lends itself to a rapid calculation.

          Reply

  8. Small point but the LRRG interim report did *not* note that many tenant farmers were fearful of speaking out. It said *some* were.

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  9. @Ron: “well if it is not tax, which I am very well aware of, then don’t use an expression for it which includes the word ‘tax’”

    I do not like the letters LVT, as the word “tax” is clearly wrong. But old habits die hard. Land Value Charge, Site Location Charge, etc have all been suggested amongst many others. In fact I do not like mentioning LVT at all, only when pushed. Henry George promoted the Single Tax. This fell solely on landlords. The public perceive landlords were being victimized, by propaganda by landlords. Geonomics reclaims all “economic rent” and “unearned income” from all sources. It also charges for extraction and use of common resources. The first ever economic model was by the French Physiocrats, which is the precursor of the Geonomics model.

    Reply

    • John,
      I am a regular recipient of the Georgist magazine. Like you, I am a long term proponent of LRV, both in name and principle. LVT is a ‘bad habit’ we need to get out of. I used it too initially, but resolutely now use LRV, to get into a better habit. People don’t like paying rent, but they DETEST tax. We should use that to our advantage

      Reply

      • One of the world’s biggest proponents of reclaiming “economic rent” is Fred Harrison. He has written countless books. His current “the Traumatized Society” is up for an award – he is also telling us the seeds for a WW3 are here unless the economies get in order. He has made lots of short videos. On Youtube do a search on “Fred Harrison”. He identified the 18 years land boom-bust cycle. It is like clockwork. In 1997 he predicted the 2008 crash by simply looking at historical data. Geonomics, a great economic stabilizer, can eliminate this cycle.

        Fred said for 30 years he wasted his time mentioning LVT. He avoids the letters. He changed his angle and is now taken very seriously.

        Fred clearly has not changed his message and appears not to be a Single Taxer. Henry George never caught on because he pushed only the Single Tax. Fred tends to use the word “rents” meaning “economic rents”, when appropriated it is “economic freeloading”. This tends to confuse the uninitiated. Most do not understand what “economic rent” is, and regard it as simple profit and think nothing is wrong with that. Fred says, “we trade in generalities and get nowhere”.

        A window of opportunity has arisen, the Credit Crunch. Fred is trying to make as much ground as possible in this window. And he has.

        The radio link is long at 1hr 24 mins, but worth listening to.
        https://soundcloud.com/martin-adams/fred-harrison-at-occupy-london/s-XDlVM

        Occupy London appears to be very interested, and it is clear a few had known of land value capture, or as Harrison says, “paying for the services you receive” and “not paying twice”. Unusual for Fred comes out with some flowery expletives 🙂 The Occupy groups around the world knew there was a problem (that is obvious) they do not know the root cause or a solution – Fred identifies and gives them a solution.

        Fred mentions that Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, stated that LVT cannot generate enough revenue without doing any calculations – typical. Prof. Bill Tideman in the USA did figures for the USA with the average American being far better off, stating the figures in dollars. That grabs people. Mark Wadsworth di the figures for the UK. Currently reclaiming “economic rent” from land alone will eliminate income tax and sales tax. Corporation tax can be reduced. But as reclaiming values from land encourages enterprise, HMGs expenditure will be far lower than now. Reclaim all sources of “economic rent” and charge for using commonly resources and all harmful bad taxes can be eliminated.

        Reply

  10. This is a reply to John’s comment at 12.09am, 1st June in which he says:-

    “LVT is what is says. A levy on the value of land, nothing else. If the value drops over a year, so does the levy, as is the opposite. It would be in the interest of a landowner to get the land as productive as possible. Isn’t Scottish sheep farming a cover for mass ownership of land by a few?”

    Number of questions about this, if you’ll allow me:-

    1. If a landowner gets the land as productive as possible, would that not tend to make its value go *up* and hence also the levy?

    2. If properties have to be constantly reassessed to determine its up to date utilisation, does that not detract from the claim that LVT is not difficult to administer?

    3. Who would decide on the degree to which a property is being optimally used for the purpose of fixing the rate of LVT applicable to it?

    4. “Isn’t Scottish sheep farming a cover for mass ownership of land by a few?” is something I’ve never heard before. Does anyone else believe this?

    5. John hasn’t answered the question I asked, what else can you do with a grouse moor to optimise its social and economic productivity? Anybody else want to come in on that?

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Neil,
      Take a trip between Egersund to Bergen and look out of the window, or even just google Bronnoysund, Norway and look at what’s happening in an area of great geobotanical, and bioclimatic similarity to Scotland. Hard to believe at first when you see the photos or experience the reality, but Bronnoysund at sea level has an annual temperature curve, day degree sum above 5,6C , day degree sum above 10C, mean annual temperature, Holdridge bio-temperature and annual precipitation like Dalwhinnie-Drumochter at 350-400 metres–plus coastal exposure.! The difference is in what people do in a country with private landowners per square mile rather than square miles per landowner as in Scotland.

      Reply

    • give me a Grouse moor—and I’ll show you!

      Reply

  11. Reply to 4) above The shepherds were responsible on the hill farms of the shepherded hills of Galloway,; never owned by the shepherd families…but leased to the tenant with security of tenure in a timeless way of life, not subject to LVTs, urban envy or estate agents greed. The hefted sheep were “bound” to the hill. And please, before there are more diatribes of the tenor above, take time to read any example of these cultural heritage / conservation blueprints,the tenancy leases……

    Galloway ,the forgotten corner of SW Scotland once a land of bog and mire but favoured by its unique climate with food-for-free vegetation to allow grazing all-the-year-round, amazing river systems and the proper use of land (drained!) in the culture of agriculture within a framework of estates and tenancies (on the back of the Empire, let’s not pretend) to provide a great civilisation for centuries. Now, no more. Remote control never works when local people are disempowered. Enslaved to the quango parasites with their rules, red tape, remote corrupt tenders,publicly funded research projects instead of resurgence,; common sense goes out the window.The worst absentee landlords in the country…without accountability; without responsibility is the Forestry Commission dominating 300,000 square miles of land….in abandonment…irredeemably lost as whole communities of people animals and wildlife have been displaced; the carnage ongoing, sound land husbandry irredeemably lost. We NEED a bottom-up local land heirarchy not remote quango anarchy focusing on LVTs. Refer to EFSchumacher’s “The Proper Use of Land” written 40 yrs ago but so relevant today….also Wes Jackson “Land Institute” “Becoming Native To This Place”.

    Reply

  12. Reply to 4) above The shepherds were responsible on the hill farms of the shepherded hills of Galloway,; never owned by the shepherd families…but leased to the tenant with security of tenure in a timeless way of life, not subject to LVTs, urban envy or estate agents greed. The hefted sheep were “bound” to the hill. And please, before there are more diatribes of the tenor above, take time to read any example of these cultural heritage / conservation blueprints,the tenancy leases……We NEED a bottom-up local land hierarchy not remote quango anarchy focusing on LVTs. Refer to EFSchumacher’s “The Proper Use of Land” written 40 yrs ago but so relevant today….also Wes Jackson “Land Institute” “Becoming Native To This Place”.

    Reply

    • @MVArmstrong

      “Reply to 4) above The shepherds were responsible on the hill farms of the shepherded hills of Galloway,; never owned by the shepherd families…but leased to the tenant with security of tenure in a timeless way of life, not subject to LVTs, urban envy or estate agents greed. The hefted sheep were “bound” to the hill. And please, before there are more diatribes of the tenor above, take time to read any example of these cultural heritage / conservation blueprints,the tenancy leases……We NEED a bottom-up local land hierarchy not remote quango anarchy focusing on LVTs. Refer to EFSchumacher’s “The Proper Use of Land” written 40 yrs ago but so relevant today….also Wes Jackson “Land Institute” “Becoming Native To This Place”.”

      So the farmer tenants paid rent to a parasite landowner – in e Highlands this parasite would have forced native people off the land and even took them to ships to get them out of the way to Canada. With reclaiming community created values from land the famer would be free of this slavery. Currently rent is a tax paid to landlords. If he pays income tax as well he is taxed twice.

      A little story….

      A man goes to an estate agent in a town looking for land to build a factory. The agent says “I have the ideal sized plot”. She takes him out of town, 30 minutes along a fast highway, down a small road, 10 minutes across dirt track and points to the land. “There it is, £5,000!”. The man said, “there is nothing here. No electricity, roads, buildings, people around, nothing”. She says “I have another the size you want.” They drive off.

      It is in town with top class services adjacent: is next to a rail station, fast road, bus routes, a smart private housing estate near with great schools, a world renowned hospital, university, crime is low because of the high police levels, all electricity, gas, water and sewerage is available, the education and skills base of the people is high around, etc.

      – She says, “it is the right size and it has all the top class services you need here”.
      – He says “ideal, who do I make the £5,000 out to?”.
      – She says, “it is £1,005,000, as it has all the top class services”.
      – He said “well, mmmm, OK, I’ll pay that, as it is ideal, perfect, who do I send the cheques to of the people who provide the services?”.
      – She says, “no you have to pay the £1,005,000 to a man who now lives in the South of France. He lays on the beach most of the day doing nothing. He bought the plot for £5,000 ten years ago and left it, leaving a derelict eyesore, paying no taxes on the plot”.
      – He says, “well its the same size as the out of town £5,000 plot, so I will send him £5,000 and cheques to those who provide the services, who are they?”.
      – She says, “no all has to go to the landowner in the South of France”.
      – He says, “how do these people pay to provide all these wonderful top-class services then?”
      – She says, “well you pay Council Tax, Corporation tax, Income Tax, VAT on the goods you sell, to the council and government and a host of other stealth charges, and they provide the services”.
      – He replies, “well I pay for these services twice then, that doesn’t sound fair at all”.
      – She says, “well yes, once to the landowning man in the South of France laying on the beach and again to the authorities”.

      Land Valuation Taxation, is due on all land, used or not. The eyesore vacant plot laying there for ten years would have been used pretty quickly as the landowner would have paid tax on it, forcing the land into use. The current system encourages speculators who gain millions for doing nothing and causing land fuelled financial crashes. As the above clearly puts across, the end user pays twice for the services. The parasite speculator landowner makes money in his sleep by doing nothing.

      Reply

  13. Reply to 4) above The shepherds were responsible on the hill farms of the shepherded hills of Galloway, Landlords forsook rent in hard times, leases were predominantly longterm….the hefted flock was bound to the hill….so there were no prohibitive money matters like money out of a stone at the outset. The skills of the shepherd were valued not undermined/ dissected in land/ money terms. Today everyone seems to clamour for land ownership without thought of the skills and responsibility undervalued Re EFSCHUMACHER “SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL” The proper use of land

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  14. Neil,

    1. If a landowner gets the land as productive as possible, would that not tend to make its value go *up* and hence also the levy?

    Yes, however he is more productive and will make more money in maximizing the production of the land. In full LVT he pays no Income tax (a tax on production) or Sales tax (a tax on trade)

    2. If properties have to be constantly reassessed to determine its up to date utilisation, does that not detract from the claim that LVT is not difficult to administer?

    In Australia it is all on-line. It is far cheaper assessing land values than Income tax and Council tax, which requires and any of snoopers.

    3. Who would decide on the degree to which a property is being optimally used for the purpose of fixing the rate of LVT applicable to it?

    If full LVT is used, the full rental value is the more accurate figure, assessed annually. The assessment will have sales of local land taken into account.

    5. John hasn’t answered the question I asked, what else can you do with a grouse moor to optimise its social and economic productivity? Anybody else want to come in on that?

    Most of Scotland (and England) was forest at one time. Men made these baren lands. They can change its usage and complexion as well.

    It is clear that riding through Scotland that the land us underutilized. Neil, you have this notion all Scotland’s land is being maximised to its full potential. That is far from the truth. People are herded into tight urban areas where land values are high because an artificial land shortage, while Laird this and that sit on masses on underutilised land. The land that is utilized more productively they take rent for. BTW, reclaiming “economic rent” from land, the levy cannot be passed onto to the tenant.

    One of the original points was land distribution. Land Value Tax does that seamlessly without directly forcing anyone to sell land. Geonomics is also the most fair and just economic system there is, as the many posts here have illustrated. It also works in practice. LVT applied in Glasgow and Edinburgh would greatly alleviate the housing problems, giving housing that anyone can afford and improve the urban environment. Glasgow is hardly a model of urbanism.

    Neil, I have the impression you do not want to learn but are attempting to discredit reclaiming “economic rents” from land. I think you area lot brighter than you are trying to put across. With Geonomics all gain, even you, except a handful of freeloaders.

    Reply

  15. BTW, I worked for a computer company that supplied the Inland Revenue with its computer systems. The Inland Revenue spent a fortune with us. The system is massive and costs a fortune to keep up. Reclaiming “economic rent” from land is very, very, cheap to collect, and the levy cannot be avoided, unless Scotland is towed to the Cayman Islands.

    For the detractors, look up on Google “Mark Wadsworth”. He has is a list of points the detractors bring up and he puts every one down with simple intelligent logic and real life applications.

    Land Price as a Cause of Poverty

    Winston Churchill’s Speech in the House of Commons, 4 May 1909,
    in response to Mr A.J. Balfour, Leader of the Opposition

    The immemorial custom of nearly every modern State, the mature conclusions of many of the greatest thinkers, have placed the tenure, transfer, and obligations of land in a wholly different category from other classes of property. The mere obvious physical distinction between land, which is a vital necessity of every human being and which at the same time is strictly limited in extent, and other property is in itself sufficient to justify a clear differentiation in its treatment, and in the view taken by the State of the conditions which should govern the tenure of land from that which should regulate traffic in other forms of property.

    Unearned Increment

    When the Leader of the Opposition seeks by comparisons to show that the same reasoning which has been applied to land ought also in logic and by every argument of symmetry to be applied to the unearned increment derived from other processes which are at work in our modern civilisation, he only shows by each example he takes how different are the conditions which attach to the possession of land and speculation in the value of land from those which attach to other forms of business speculation.

    “If,” he inquires, “you tax the unearned increment on land, why don’t you tax the unearned increment from a large block of stock? I buy a piece of land; the value rises. I buy stocks; their value rises.” But the operations are entirely dissimilar. In the first speculation the unearned increment derived from land arises from a wholly sterile process, from the mere withholding of a commodity which is needed by the community. In the second case, the investor in a block of shares does not withhold from the community what the community needs. The one operation is in restraint of trade and in conflict with the general interest, and the other is part of a natural and healthy process, by which the economic plant of the world is nourished and from year to year successfully and notably increased.

    Landowner and Railway Co.

    Then the right hon. gentleman instanced the case of a new railway and a country district enriched by that railway. The railway, he explained, is built to open up a new district; and the farmers and landowners in that district are endowed with unearned increment in consequence of the building of the railway. But if after a while their business aptitude and industry create a large carrying trade, then the railway, he contends, gets its unearned increment in its turn.

    But the right hon. gentleman cannot call the increment unearned which the railway acquires through the regular service of carrying goods, rendering a service on each occasion in proportion to the tonnage of goods it carries, making a profit by an active extension of the scale of its useful business – he cannot surely compare that process with the process of getting rich merely by sitting still? It is clear that the analogy is not true.

    The Glasgow Example

    I do not think the Leader of the Opposition could have chosen a more unfortunate example than Glasgow. He said that the demand of that great community for land was for not more than forty acres a year. Is that the only demand of the people of Glasgow for land? Does that really represent the complete economic and natural demand for the amount of land a population of that size requires to live on? I will admit that at present prices it may be all that they can afford to purchase in the course of a year. But there are one hundred and twenty thousand persons in Glasgow who are living in one-room tenements; and we are told that the utmost land those people can absorb economically and naturally is forty acres a year.

    What is the explanation? Because the population is congested in the city the price of land is high upon the suburbs, and because the price of land is high upon the suburbs the population must remain congested within the city. That is the position which we are complacently assured is in accordance with the principles which have hitherto dominated civilised society.

    The “Poor Widow” Bogey

    But when we seek to rectify this system, to break down this unnatural and vicious circle, to interrupt this sequence of unsatisfactory reactions, what happens? We are not confronted with any great argument on behalf of the owner. Something else is put forward, and it is always put forward in these cases to shield the actual landowner or the actual capitalist from the logic of the argument or from the force of a Parliamentary movement.

    Sometimes it is the widow. But that personality has been used to exhaustion. It would be sweating in the cruellest sense of the word, overtime of the grossest description, to bring the widow out again so soon. She must have a rest for a bit; so instead of the widow we have the market-gardener — the market-gardener liable to be disturbed on the outskirts of great cities, if the population of those cities expands, if the area which they require for their health and daily life should become larger than it is at present.

    What is the position disclosed by the argument? On the one hand, we have one hundred and twenty thousand persons in Glasgow occupying one-room tenements; on the other, the land of Scotland. Between the two stands the market-gardener, and we are solemnly invited, for the sake of the market-gardener, to keep that great population congested within limits that are unnatural and restricted to an annual supply of land which can bear no relation whatever to their physical, social, and economic needs — and all for the sake of the market-gardener, who can perfectly well move farther out as the city spreads and who would not really be in the least injured.

    Not much has changed in 100 years.

    Reply

    • great comment again John and liked the pre-emption with the ‘poor wee widow story, and of course we still get the old ‘garden tax’ bullpooh. BTW I am in frequent contact with Prof Sandilands and John Digney, who featured in the Glasgow Study. I think it was Stalin who said, that no oligarchy ever gives up its power voluntarily and the landed oligarchy in Scotland is a classic example. They also validate the veracity of Disraeli in pointing out that all the great issues in politics eventually boil down to the ownership of land.

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      • And for the very reasons you have just made Ron, unless Scot Gov lays its cards on the table and gets a serious grip on meaningful land reform then our likelihood of achieving independence is lessened and of little value should we achieve it.

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        • exactly Tom, land reform should be one of the driving forces of the independence movement and inspiring us with the concept of a different Scotland. I fear that the SNP has been traduced and suborned by the vested landed sectional interests.

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        • If say Labour get in, in Westminster in the next election, and introduce reclaiming of common wealth for common services, It is highly unlikely Scotland will not become independent. I do not want to get into party politics, but the SNP needs poverty in Scotland as a lever for power. Prosperity waters down their case.

          The cause for unrest in Scotland is echoed in Northern England, but they do not have a political mechanism to vent their grievances, as the South East of England gain control of the wealth of the UK. The South East is sluice for the wealth and brains of the UK. “18bn for a nice to have line called Crossrail !! It selling point is that is gest 1/2 hour off the time from the City to Heathrow. Liverpool has been pleading for the odd £100m to extend its metro (it has 5 miles of disused tunnel under the city awaiting reuse and station cut in. The city did attempt to get LVT but was beaten down by Whitehall.

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          • yes and in this the SNP are following the Labour line of maintaining a ‘constituency of poverty’ with which they occasionally tinker with to give the appearance of actually doing something.

      • Income Tax was a temporary tax to pay for the Napoleonic wars. The Tories, backed by landed interests, kept it, shifting tax from large landowners to the poor’s production and effort – their labour. Income Tax is as daft as the Window Tax. The income of the average man declined ever since. All graph sow this. As Inco e tax was gradually introduced land prices rose and income of the poor dropped.

        The new Income tax law did have “schedule A” which was small tax on land values. Taxing buildings is totally daft, as daft as the Window Tax.

        “The division of income taxes into five ‘Schedules’ – A (income from land and buildings)”

        The Tories, them again, got rid of Schedule A in 1963. Again, land and hence house prices, rose like a kite, to the point today owning a house is beyond many, many millions – who are rent slaves. The build quality of homes has deteriorated as well. The graphs show since 1963 land/house prices correlate with eliminating the reclaiming of land values.

        All because of an unfair and unjust tax shift.

        Reply

        • Aye, the daftness of the Window Tax in inducing the bricking up of windows, is a classic one and one I’ve used frequently in my various letters on LRV to the Herald and the Scotsman over the years. However, it does exemplify the fallacy of imposing taxation on labour and production; it leads to less of the item being taxed being produced, less labour being done and evasion/avoidance—all self defeating, especially in a recession. LRV collection cannot possibly lead to less land being produced and of course land cannot be hidden or transferred. With its replacement of depressive taxation will come a major economic stimulus.

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          • Ron, spot on..

            “it does exemplify the fallacy of imposing taxation on labour and production; it leads to less of the item being taxed being produced, less labour being done and evasion/avoidance—all self defeating, especially in a recession.”

            Income and Sales taxes have an accompanying camp-following army of unproductive lawyers and accountants engaged in avoidance. Reclaiming land values eliminates all this

        • Are you sure Schedule A was abolished by the Tories in 1963? It must have been reintroduced because it existed in 2005 when it was abolished again (by Labour this time) and replaced by Part 3 of the Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act 2005. See http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/pimmanual/PIM1001.htm Anyway, was Sched A not a tax on the *income* from land rather than its capital value? Have you got a link to theses graphs?

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      • “Most societies have a ruling elite. An elite try to stay in power. How they stay in power is not only by controlling the means of production, to be Marxist, i.e. controlling the money, but controlling the cognitive map – the way we think”.

        – Gillian Tett (Assistant Editor Financial Times)

        We use the latter.

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      • Prof Sandilands accompanied Fred Harrison to a conference in Argentina recently. He is the only one in the UK teaching economics with the LAND aspect as it should be.

        Classical economics based on Adam Smith, Ricardo, etc, works. The products of production are:

        1. LAND – all resources come from this and without it we do not exist
        2. CAPITAL – man made things
        3. LABOUR – people’s efforts

        It was changed around 100 years ago to merge LAND into CAPITAL for vested interest reasons – neo-classical economics was born, which is the inaccurate dross they teach today in western unis.

        LAND has been moved out of the psyche of people, who think it is like buying a washing machine. In the UK 0.6% of the people own 70% of the land, yet no monopolies commission has ever intervened. Community economic activity soaks into land crystallising as land values. This value is pocketed by land owners – a house is partially land. The bricks are CAPITAL and land is LAND in economic terms.

        If GM crashed the world’s industry would not crash with it. If the largest bank in the world crashed the world should not crash with it. Currently it will and did. The reason for the crash was that there was over speculation in LAND. LAND was also the cause of the 1929 crash. Land peaked in 1926 and started to drop to crash point.

        LAND is pretty well tax free. The increased value was not created by the owner, it was created by community activity – the landowners are making money while even asleep. If you have spare cash then put it into land and leave it. Five years later it is worth much more and little risk involved and little tax to pay. The crashes always follow the boom, when after the peak there is surplus cash which people want to get more from, so LAND is the obvious choice for them to pour surplus cash into.

        Remove speculation on LAND and its RESOUCES, of which we cannot live, and are the collective wealth of a community…. and crashes will not reoccur. It is an economic stabilizer. In short, get speculation out of LAND and it resources and have a true free-market unrigged and unmonopolised as much as possible.

        Surplus cash should be put into enterprise activities that create economic growth. Reclaiming “economic rent” from land does that. The land market takes from the young and gives mainly to the old. The housing sector is the same money spinning around. The only economic growth in the land/housing market is in the construction industry that maintains and builds homes. The UK builds far too few homes, with about 5 million homes short, when taking into account those that need demolishing. Ever thought why we are continually in a housing crisis? In a true free-market the homes would be here, big, quality and cost little at all. The homes would be served by self funding rapid-transit transport paid for out of community created wealth.

        How transport infrastructure can be self funding. “people who ride on trains are made to pay twice for the privilege”. “trains pay for themselves”.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47Jb-rlXJYg

        We must get to the root of the problem, not phaff about with symptoms. Cure the root. Geonomics will do that – it is also apolitical to boot.

        Reply

        • John,
          There has been a very informative and insightful discussion in this forum and I have thoroughly enjoyed your contributions. To a large extent, we have been preaching to the converted as it were, or at least to the already aware. It would be great to see you making similar contributions to the Scotsman and The Herald to take the core importance of the LRV issue to a wider audience. John Digney, Prof Sandilands and myself once had sufficient reciprocal inputs to the Herald that it induced them to mount a letters page special. We never reached those heights again, but we have had quite a few letters in subsequently and inputs of mutual support in the blogposts ever since. I’d like to see you in there with us.

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          • Ron, I am actually English with Scots roots amongst others. Family name is from the bard himself – Burns. I am originally from Liverpool which had/has a big sign in the concourse at Lime St station: “Liverpool: In England, But Not Of It”. Many families around me bought the Scots Sunday Post on a Sunday, which even had Everton and Liverpool match reports. I favourite was “oor Wullie”. We have a strong affinity with the Celtic people’s, as do Newcastle with the Scots.

            Do not have this, everything south of the border is evil and against Scots. That is not the case. To us, our oppressor was the South East of England and history has proven that to be correct – and I live there.

            However Scotland now has control over much of its own affairs. Look at the North West of England. The most densely populated part of the UK and a greater population than Scotland and a lap dog to the South East. The UK needs a federal system.

          • @Ron “To a large extent, we have been preaching to the converted ”

            Many of the unconverted read this. Now they know different.

          • John,
            I am a Scottish nationalist in the broadest sense of the word and I became such, not because of an arrogant hubris and hatred of the English, but because I was ashamed of what my country was and is like. I feel this especially acutely after I return from any visit to Fennoscandia. There may have been a time for a federal UK solution, but with the advent of devolution and now the possibility of independence, that option is a shrinking one and there seems little enthusiasm for intra-England devolution f coming rom the English themselves. Yes, being anchored to the sinking TitanUK created by the South East is a nightmare prospect. Independence will free Scotland from that and hopefully with prospects like introduction of LRV etc, we can provide a template of hope and inspiration for our cousins in England in the way that our cousins in Fennoscandia have done for us. I’d still like to see you contribute to the Herald and Scotsman.

  16. A great vid on wildlife:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTiVS2lhMuY

    Go to 14 mins 20 secs for a pro land value capture farmer in Scotland. “we should be a part of the solution, not the problem”.

    Reply

  17. Ron, if Scotland cannot get proper control over its own affairs I can’t blame them for wanting to go it alone. The same with the Welsh. This centralization we endure forced the issue. But the Scots can impose reclamation of land values to a point. Not fully, however more than what larger in population, parts of England can do. It is down to the Scots parliament. I read the Herald on-line. I like some of the journalism, which appears to be very well written and better than a lot of the tripe from the London media.

    I personally can’t see full independence happening anytime in our lifetimes. But you never know. On a federal system. The Scots Highland, Lowlands and Borders are different places with differing economies which should also have control of much of their own affairs. Planning should a be a totally local affair, not the Stalinist system we have which is based on quotas and over preservation of the countryside.

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  18. From….
    http://www.progress.org/archive/geono05.htm
    The bold applies to the open sheep grazing land and grouse moors of Scotland -0 and part of England and Wales.

    “3, California, 1890s. Back then, many farmers and miners went without water because cattlemen like Henry Miller owned 1,000,000 acres of land. Miller could drive his herds from Mexico to Oregon and spend every night on his own land. In 1886 Miller won full rights to the water of the Kern River.

    Some people concerned with justice figured the cattlemen had gone far enough. The state government passed the 1887 Wright Act which allowed communities to create by popular vote irrigation districts to build dams and canals and pay for them by taxing the resultant rise in land value. Once irrigated, land was too valuable to use for grazing, and the tax made it too costly for hoarding. So cattlemen sold off fields to farmers and at prices the farmers could afford.

    In ten years, the Central Valley was transformed into over 7,000 independent farms. Over the next few decades, those tree-less, semi-arid plains became the “bread basket of America”, one of the most productive areas on the planet. (magazine of the Historical Society of California)”

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    • Obviously, irrigation is not an issue in Scotland so what would the equivalent improvement to land which is presently hill farms and grouse moors be to put them on a par with your analogy from California and make them too valuable to continue to use for grazing/sporting?

      Hang on, answer my own question – an electricity interconnector paid for by a tax on the resultant rise in value of grouse moors and hill farms due to their new potential for renewable energy.

      In fact, we may be on to something here for the Outer Hebrides which have great renewable potential which is currently throttled by SSE shilly-shally-ing over installing the interconnector across the Minch to the mainland. Why don’t the community owned estates (which must account for almost half of the OH by now) apply for a private Act of Parliament to enable them to instal an interconnector themselves financed by the rise in value of their estates due to the unlocking of their renewables potential? An interesting thought.

      Back to the more general debate, though, the California/interconnector analogies are both a tax on the *rise* in value whereas I thought the devotees of LRV were talking about taxing the original “un-risen” value of land. So to that extent, these analogies are not very good ones, or even possibly totally irrelevant?

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  19. This is a reply to John, June 1, at 6.55pm, in which he said:-

    “Many of the unconverted read this. Now they know different.”

    I wasn’t sure how to interpret the second sentence there. Do you mean that any unconverted looking in will go away duly converted or that any unconverted needn’t bother seeking enlightenment here?

    My experience as an unconverted has been very much the latter and that, if you dare to ask any questions, you get brushed aside as a “detractor” or “borderline troll”.

    Reply

    • I wasn’t sure how to interpret the second sentence there. Do you mean that any unconverted looking in will go away duly converted or that any unconverted needn’t bother seeking enlightenment here?

      “My experience as an unconverted has been very much the latter”
      ————————————————————————
      So why do you still come here??

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  20. FAO John re abolition of Schedule A in 1963.

    I see that, until 1963, landlords were taxed under Schedule A on the rents they received and anyone who owned a property which was not let – the biggest category of which was householders, of course – paid on the basis of an imputed rent. What happened in 1963 was that payment of tax by owner occupiers on their imputed rent was abolished but taxation of rents actually received continued.

    However the language used to describe this change was very confusing in that it was referred to as the abolition of Schedule A but the “new” tax introduced on rents actually received was called Schedule A.

    Thus, the Chancellor (Reggie Maudling) in his budget speech:-

    “I propose now to abolish Schedule A altogether. … [including for] all nonresidential owner-occupied property, including business premises, farms, sports-club grounds, and so on. In the case of properties owned and let for a profit, I propose to substitute for Schedule A a system of direct taxation of rents … Due allowance will be made for the actual expenses of maintenance, insurance, management, etc. In simple terms, profits from property ownership will be calculated like other business profits.”

    But, Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988:-

    “s.1(1) – Income tax shall be charged in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Acts in respect of all property, profits or gains respectively described or comprised in the Schedules, A, B, C, D, E and F, set out in sections 15 to 20 …”

    “s.15 – SCHEDULE A – Tax under this Schedule shall be charged on the annual profits or gains arising in respect of … rents under leases of land in the United Kingdom”

    A classic case of ambiguous terminology obscuring what’s really going on!

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  21. @Ron

    “The Union of 1707 was a de facto conquest, perhaps a rear window entry rather than a front door crashing one as in Ireland, but a conquest nonetheless, through a conditional surrender.”

    Ron, no army went to Scotland and overcame the country. As far as I can gleen the Scots were the first wanting a union in the 1500s. Mary, Queen of Scots pledged herself to a peaceful union between the two kingdoms.

    Historian Simon Schama said… “What began as a hostile merger, would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world … it was one of the most astonishing transformations in European history.”

    England and Scotland were ruled by the same king from 1603 when James VI of Scotland also became the king of England (a defacto take-over?). They remained two separate states until 1707.

    Scotland (and Wales) now the power to change Scotland in many ways. In ways England cannot -there is no English parliament as Westminster rules all of the UK. If Scotland does not want to use the powers she has then that is the fault of Scotland.

    Reply

    • the army threat was there, but bribery worked better. The English military advised against a direct invasion, but the option was still on the table. The conquest was achieved by the suborning of the Scottish landed interests whose ‘flight of the Earls’ was right into the arms of the English landed interest. Thereafter they went on to the biggest landgrab in history, the British( sic English) Empire with Scots doing for the British what the Cossacks did for the Russians or the Nervii did for the Romans.

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  22. I suspect Ron already knows all this but a quick point about Mary Queen of Scots. She considered herself the rightful heir to the throne of England because, as a Catholic, she regarded Elizabeth I as illegitimate. Thus, when she (Mary) said things like pledging herself to a peaceful union between the two kingdoms, this was propaganda directed at the English to advance her cause with them rather than vocalising any grass-roots Scottish desire for merger with England.

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    • “Thus, when she (Mary) said things like pledging herself to a peaceful union between the two kingdoms, this was propaganda ”

      That is one opinion. I prefer fact though. Why would she want the English throne? mmm She was Queen of Scotland. The fact is she proposed a merger not the English. And since she proposed the merger there was about 4 or 5 from then to 1707.

      On a wider note. The UK is falling apart. There are Welsh, Scottish and Irish nationalists. For over 30 years, and still on-going, a part of the UK took arms to attempt to get out. The north of England is virtually a separate country to the south in many aspects. The reason is over-centralization in the south east of England.

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      • I suspect we’re going have to agree to disagree over MQoS’s motives but I think accepting as a fact that a 16th century monarch would never covet another’s throne because he/she already had one of his/her own stretches credulity a bit. For example, when Henry VIII heard that Scotland had revoked the Treaty of Greenwich (by which Mary was to have married his eldest son, later Edward VI), did he say “Oh, fair enough. My grandson will be the king of England, he doesn’t need to be the king of Scotland as well …”?

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        • The fact is a Scottish queen was going for unification. The motives is pure speculation and opinion and also pretty meaningless to the raw facts. Also many other suggestion for a merger was proposed along the way. The FACT is that Scotland is NOT occupied.

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          • … never said it was!

          • neither you did Neil. This aspect of the discussion stems from a comment made by a Norwegian to me regarding the current political situation in Scotland as he saw it. His view is not an uncommon one and foreigners often see the entire island of Britain as England, (but not Ireland). In all this D Day stuff, just listen to how many times England is mention compared to Britain.

          • what’s that Trident thing at Faslane and whose is it’s?

  23. After 1707 the capital should not have been in Edinburgh or London. It should have been mid-way in the north west of England. The Scots then believed they were being ruled by the English as the parliament was London.

    Many think tanks recently proposed talking the capital out of London to Liverpool, which is near in the centre of the UK land mass.

    In 1962 Alistair Burnett wrote an article in the Economist about moving the seat of government out of London to the north of England. Within the past decade Prospect Magazine again took up the idea and mentioned Liverpool as the ideal location. Again a Welsh MP motioned a Parliamentary debate on moving the capital to Liverpool. Many economists and political journalist also favour Liverpool; as one said it is the centre of the UK. None of these initiatives came from Liverpool or Liverpool people. Also, London is going to flood, so getting HMG out is a must. It is not an IF, it is a When. This would break the stranglehold of the South East of England on the rest of the UK – the Oxford-Cambridge-London power triangle.

    Many have gone on about regeneration elsewhere in then UK, alleviating London’s housing and overheating house prices etc, which all makes sense. But the prime point which tends to get overlooked, is that the UK is falling apart. Southern Ireland has already seceded from the UK, just under half in Northern Ireland don’t want to be in the UK and took to violence to attempt to get out, Welsh and Scottish independence parties are strong, and there is still a sharp north-south divide in England with each side not liking or trusting each other too well.

    Having the capital in the wrong place certainly did not help. And having Whitehall mandarins, who on the whole are private school/Oxbridge/ Southern England/jobs for the boys types not moving out of the South East too much, and at times ignorant of other regions in many aspects and then dictating to the regions, does not help either. Having the capital in the geographical centre of the UK, instead of in the bottom right hand corner will certainly make matters better all around.

    Liverpool is on the right side of the country for Northern Ireland so they are happy, a hop from Wales so the Welsh are happy, easy to get to from the South West, Midlands, North East, Scotland and the South East. It is the ideal choice of location, and has the entire transport and communications infrastructure in place. It has a world renowned water frontage which is far more appealing than what inland UK cities can offer. It all falls into place. The redundant docks which are a World Heritage Site, are awaiting. The city has the footprint of Paris and was designed to take 2.5 million.

    The relationship of UK politicians and the London City financial institutions is far too cosy. In most other countries they separate the seat of government from the financial, sector to great success: USA with Washington & NY, Germany with Berlin and Frankfurt, Italy with Rome and Milan, etc. The UK is one of the most centralised countries in the western world. Franco attempted to centralise everything in Madrid so he could have control, but even he couldn’t fully do it with big Barcelona not having any of it. The UK had no equivalent of a Barcelona to oppose London, only now the newly created Welsh and Scottish Parliaments.

    The regeneration aspect of Liverpool and the North West, if the capital went to Liverpool is very welcome and it will obviously spread out the wealth of the country rather than concentrating on the South East of England. However the political aspect is far more important in the long term.

    It is clear that there is a lot of support to move the seat of the UK government.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2635393.stm

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    • or we up here in ‘Ghillie Jockoland’ could just remove the UK government from Scotland by voting Yes? Perhaps if Roman plans to make the capital of Britannia further north had come off, or the 2nd Adiutrix Legion had not been withdrawn and the conquest of Britannia had been completed, if the Norse conquest had been completed, had King John survived long enough to hand over Cumberland, Westmoreland and Northumberland to Alexander II King of Scots and the rest of England to Prince Louis of France when they penned him up in Dover Castle, or the Maid of Norway had survived to be Queen of Scots and married Edward II, then it all might have been so different—but it isn’t. There is no popular demand for regional parliaments in England.

      Reply

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