A committee has been appointed to investigate the housing question, and its reports will no doubt contain valuable suggestions for dealing practically and at once with a matter so vitally important to the rebuilding of Britain.
In all kingdoms this first and original art [agriculture]—this foundation of all others—must be pursued and encouraged, or the rest will faint and be languid.—ARTHUR YOUNG.
The most important practical reform of all is to make the land more productive, to put it to the most profitable use. By profitable use we do not mean using it so as to bring the owner the largest return in money per acre, aiming at the largest net profit by reducing expenditure as much as possible and growing whatever will fetch the highest price at least cost of production. The really useful object is to lay out and use all the land of the country in such a way as to produce the greatest aggregate of commodities which are of real intrinsic value for use or which can be exchanged for useful commodities coming from other nations; in particular to produce in our own country as much wholesome food as possible, and in so doing to support as large an agricultural population as possible in reasonable comfort and health. To grow in our own country a larger proportion of the food we consume is necessary, first, in order to meet our own needs from our own internal resources, and so reduce the amount which has to be paid to other countries for the commodities they supply; secondly, in case of war, to avoid the risk of starvation and reduce the strain on the Navy and on the Mercantile Marine due to the necessity of bringing the larger part of the essential food of the country overseas and also, what may be equally important, to avoid the distress which may be caused owing to the country being unable to provide the means of payment for the immense proportion of the food required which must be brought from overseas. It was long ago pointed out that the “trades by which the British people has believed it to be the highest of destinies to maintain itself cannot now long remain undisputed in its hands.”