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the register of charges, but simply of the relation between the charge and the land. It is comparatively indifferent to Lord Broadacres how many caveats appear on his registered land title, provided they do not show that particular sum of £20,000 which he owes on Broadacres Park to Gresham Street and Capel Court, Esqrs. It is equally indifferent to him how many sums of £20,000 stand in the names of those gentlemen in the London Register of Charges, provided they are not visibly secured on Broadacres Park. But a plan for this purpose, to have any worth, presupposes, as I have said, a reform of the actual law; and I cannot express too strongly my conviction, that until we apply ourselves to this work of thorough, radical law reform (which, like all true radical reform, would be the most conservative thing in the world), any attempt to construct a model register of charges, and neat forms of entry, to supply the place of title-deeds, is but playing with toys. The law remaining unreformed, the register will, as I have sought to show, merely create a double expense—that of the entry, and that of the deed defining the personal relations of the parties. Indeed, I am strongly inclined to think that, until such reform of the law, a fulllength register would be the cheapest, as well for charges as for the land itself.
LIII.—But supposing a good registry system, founded on lopments of land the distinction between ownership and charges, to be combined
with a real reform of the law, so as to render it possible that the entries in the land register, and in the register of charges, shall represent the actual dealings with the land or the charge, and so as to dispense, in the ordinary course of affairs, with title-deeds properly so called-supposing the security of the mortgagee of land to be increased, more especially by conferring upon him more stringent powers of recovering interest—and I think we have little idea how the credit of the land might be developed; what facilities might be afforded by capital for its improvement. A class of charge-brokers would arise,* analogous to the stockbrokers of our day, and who, I trust, would bind
• Mr. Wilson looks forward to the establishment of "land-brokers.”—(See Report of Registration of Titles Commission, p. 113.) 'Heaven forbid!
themselves by rules as strict as those of the Stock Exchange. Security of title being established, it might not be impossible to set on foot what might be called a Land-Lloyd's, whose valuation of estates might become authoritative, whilst it would afford a centre for the advance of money upon land; the value of advances on land might itself be made a subject of insurance. Another application of the insurance principle to land in its mutual form, would be that of which we see the first germ in our building societies, which I believe, under the name of “hypothecary unions," or other titles, is already at work on the continent; where, namely, a certain number of landowners associate together to procure mortgage capital, partly out of the sum of their respective subscriptions, partly out of advances obtained at a low rate on the collective security of the estates in union. With or without mutuality, the plan of “land debentures,” already in full success on the continent, and strenuously urged in the Registration of Titles Commission by Mr. V. Scully, would attract towards the land, I believe, a vast amount of capital in small sums, and afford to the middle and working classes an investment for their savings, which must tend greatly to the improvement of the land, if its owners are not absolutely false to their duties. But in any way, as land charges became secure in title and value, it would become possible to introduce a very simple, but really most important, change—that of throwing the expenses of transferring the charge, which the debtor now often pays, invariably upon the transferee. From this period land charges would become more and more closely assimilated to stock; with a guarantee against repayment within a given time, and means (which might be devised) for ascertaining the state of accounts as between mortgagor and mortgagee, their value would rise and fall like that of any other marketable security, until perhaps, at last, a £1000 land-charge at five per cent., secured for twenty years, would be worth more or less than £1000, according as the average rate of interest was less or more than £5 per cent., much in the same proportion as £1000 Consols is worth more or less than £1000. The present system, under which, owing to the uncertainties
of redemption, the fluctuations in the value of money only bear upon the interest of the charge, are in reality most galling to the debtor. I suspect more small estates have been gradually eaten up by the costs of transfer, than there have been large ones saved by the right of redemption. If any plan could be devised for payment of interest, either through the medium of sworn charge-brokers or others, or at some central office, and for placing in the charge-holder's hands, or within his reach, authentic evidence of the payment, the present bugbear of the state of account between mortgagor and mortgagee, which is perhaps the greatest clog on the transfer of mortgage securities, would finally be removed.
LIV.-Nor need we overlook one other possible developcations of the ment, as respects the land itself. Every thing that tends to strip principle to land property in land of its present specific character, must tend to
promote the application to it of the stock-register principle. England and France have hitherto followed two opposite tendencies as respects land; the one carrying subdivision of the soil in the hands of the landowners, the other concentration of landed property, to the extreme. There is a recoil from either tendency. In France the small landowners, eaten up with hypothecary interest and charges, are beginning to fall a prey to the capitalist; what is called “la grande propriété” is avowedly reappearing. In England, the multiplication of freehold land societies, the breaking up of large estates under the hammer in the neighbourhood of large towns, are restoring, more or less, a class of small landowners. The problem of the future seems to many this—how to conciliate the indivision (to use a gallicism) of the soil
, with the subdivision of landownership. The former, it is seen more and more, is up to a certain point necessary for the successful carrying out of the large and patient operations of scientific agriculture. The latter, it is felt even by those who will not admit it, would be the best means of cementing class with class, and preventing or checking the formation of that greatest of all dangers to civilized society-a proletarian order, rootless in the land, and therefore seeking root in it at any cost; when least dangerous, stilling other classes with
parasitic growths of pauperism. Present experience certainly affords no hints, otherwise than by way of caution, as to the solution of the problem. The wisdom of railway companies supplies no favourable augury as to the wisdom of agricultural companies, if such should be devised; on the contrary, the only point which seems to have reached demonstration is, that money capital alone cannot be a basis of the associations of the future; that good sense and good management are emphatically not the characteristics of assemblages of £10 shareholders, still less any higher qualities. But whatever other basis might be found, it is clear that the instant a system were devised for rendering the ownership of large landed estates for agricultural purposes collective instead of individual, that instant the principles of the stock-registry would become available for dealing with the fractional interests composing that ownership. So far, then, the idea of applying that stockregistry system to land, however impracticable in the present, inight become available in the future; the mischievous dream of to-day might become an orderly fact in another half century.