A SUGGESTION FOR STATE TRANSIT OF HOME-GROWN PRODUCE.
The present writer ventures to suggest that under a general scheme of Tariff Reform, the home-grown food supply of the United Kingdom might be generally increased and cheapened, and Ireland, along with the other agricultural districts of the United Kingdom greatly developed, by an extension of the principle of the Parcel Post, and the constitution of a great Home-Grown Commodity Consignment Service worked through arrangements between the Post Office, the Railway Companies, the Agricultural Departments and Farmers’ Co-operative Associations. The railways already provide special rates for farm produce. But if the system were organised by the State in connection with the Railways and Agricultural Associations, and the parcel post expanded from the carriage of parcels of eleven pounds weight to the carriage of consignments of a tonnage limit to be delivered on certain days at depots in the large cities and centres of population, great national interests might be served.
The value of proximity to the Home Markets which has been so depreciated in favour of foreign supplies by modern transit methods and quick sea passages, would be restored to the British and Irish farmer. If this were accompanied by a tariff system which would secure a preference for home-grown cereals such as oats and barley, a direct effect in stimulating agriculture, and an indirect effect in increasing winter dairying, cattle feeding and poultry rearing, would be produced. The country would become more self-sustaining. The peace food supply would be cheapened and the food supply in time of war augmented. The defensive power of the realm would be increased. If, under the new Tariff system, it seems not inexpedient to reimpose the small registration duty on imported foreign as contrasted with colonial wheat and flour, the revenue thus produced might, without exactly earmarking it, be applied partly towards encouraging and advancing agriculture in the United Kingdom, and partly towards financing such a Commodity Post as above suggested. This subvention to domestic, agricultural and pastoral industries would balance the tariff on foreign manufactured goods, and the farmer of England, Scotland and Ireland would share amply in the stimulus of a new fiscal policy. Tariff Reform may assist the manufacturer and artisan by imposing duties at the ports, and the farmer and agricultural labourer by cheapening transit and encouraging food production within the United Kingdom.