2 JULY 1948, Page 7

The Tories and the Land

The Conservative Party's Agricultural Charter will strike most people connected with the land as a very sensible document. It is true that a number of important factors—such as the date by which the " overall target " of a 5o per cent. increase on the level of agricultural production immediately before the war should be reached, and an estimate of the cost to The country of the various developments proposed—are left for the time being undefined ; but the Charter specifically disclaims being " a final Party pro- gramme " and will be judged, as a statement of intentions, on the extent to which it appears in the first place fair and in the second place practical. From a scrutiny by these standards it emerges with credit. It is informed by a strong sense of the community's basic responsibility towar s the land, and nowhere—not even over such politically awkward issues as the service cottage—subordinates the interests of the land to the exigencies of vote-catching. It envisages among other things fewer and more efficient controls, higher rewards for skill, greater independence of Whitehall for the County Com- mittees and the liquidation of the Ministry of Food as a trader in foodstuffs. It makes constructive suggestions about forestry, and would lighten the at present crippling burdens laid—together with additional responsibilities—upon the Iand-owner by recent legisla- tion. It is commendably free from eyewash and special pleading, and the farmer, who is sick to death of being told that he is a " spearhead " and a " commando " by Ministers whose subordinates half-strangle him with red tape, will be attracted by its forthright approach. The only test of any policy for the land is whether it would do the land good ; this one looks very much as if it would.