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was the richest country in the world, and that she was industrially far ahead of all countries. They have not only not prevented the workers reducing their output to the utmost, but they have actually encouraged them in that suicidal policy by their legislation. Striving after popularity, after votes, the politicians have thus encouraged idling on the part of both employers and employees, and have opposed modern organisation and modern improvements. While encouraging labour to combine and to restrict production, they have opposed the combination of employers to increase efficiency. For decades both parties advocated Free Trade chiefly because that policy furnished an excellent party cry, furnished votes.
If we wish to ascertain the causes of British industrial stagnation and relative decline, it is well to listen to the opinion of foreign experts. Let us in this manner consider the causes of the relative decline of the British iron industry. In 1845 two-thirds of the world's iron was produced by Great Britain. German iron production was then quite unimportant. At present German iron production is far ahead iron production in this country. According to a valuable German technical handbook, Gemeinfassliche Darstellung des Eisenhüttenwesens, Düsseldorf, 1912, the production of iron and steel in Great Britain and Germany has developed as follows:
In Great Britain
In Great Britain
1865 1870 1875 1880 1885 1890 1895 1900 1905 1910
Tons 975,000 1,391,000 2,029,000 2,729,000 3,687,000 4,658,000 5,465,000 8,521,000 10,988,000 14,793,000
Tons 4,896,000 6,060,000 6,432,000 7,802,000 7,369,000 8,033,000 7,827,000 9,052,000 9,746,000 10,380,000
Tons 100,000 170,000 347,000 624,000
894,000 1,614,000 2,830,000 6,646,000 10,067,000 13,699,000
Tons 225,000 287,000
724,000 1,321,000 2,020,000 3,637,000 3,312,000 5,130,000 5,984,000 6,107,000
Why has Germany, whose production of iron and steel was formerly insignificant, so rapidly and so completely outstripped Great Britain, which possesses the greatest natural facilities for producing iron and steel ? The German handbook mentioned is published by the Union of German Iron Masters, a purely professional association. It considers this question exclusively from a business point of view. It significantly states :
No land on earth is as favourably situated for iron production as is England. Extensive deposits of coal and iron, easy and cheap purchase of foreign raw materials, a favourable geographical position for selling its manufactures, reinforced by the great economic power of the State, made at one time the island kingdom industrially omnipotent throughout the world. Now complaints about constantly increasing foreign competition become from day to day more urgent. These are particularly loud with regard to the growing power of the German iron industry. It is understandable that Great Britain finds it unpleasant that Germany's iron industry should have become so strong. However, Germany's success has been achieved by unceasing hard work. .
The unexampled growth of the German industry began when, on July, 15, 1879, a moderate Protective Tariff was introduced. Until then it was impossible for the German iron industries to flourish. Foreign competition was too strong. ..
The German Trade Unions, with their Socialist ideas, are opposed to progress. If their aspirations should succeed, the German iron industry would be ruined. An attempt on the part of the German Trade Unions to increase the earnings of the skilled workers by limiting the number of apprentices, the imitation of the policy which has been followed by the British Trade Unions, would produce a scarcity of skilled workers in Germany as it has done in England. The British iron industry should be to us Germans a warning example. The English Trade Unions with their short-sighted championship of labour, with their notorious policy of 'ca' canny' (the limitation of output), and with
their hostility to technical improvements have seriously shaken the powerful position of the British iron trade.
Most people see in Trade Unions an organisation which may become dangerous to the national industries by promoting strikes. Strikes, however, are of comparatively little danger. They are like a virulent, but intermittent, fever. The most pernicious feature of the British Trade Unions is their policy of limiting output, and their hostility to improvements in organisation and machinery. Their activity has upon the body economic an influence similar to a slow fever which leads, almost imperceptibly, to atrophy, to marasmus, and to death.
The War will be long drawn out. It may cost £4,000,000,000, £5,000,000,000, and perhaps more. It may swallow up one-third, and perhaps one-half of the national capital. It may permanently double, or even more than double, taxation. I have endeavoured to show by irrefutable evidence that the British manufacturing industries and British mining are inefficient, that, by introducing the best modern methods, British production and British income can be doubled and trebled. Unfortunately, British agriculture is as inefficient as are the manufacturing industries and mining. Space does not permit to show in detail how greatly British agricultural production might be increased. I have shown in various articles published in The Nineteenth Century review1 and elsewhere that, on an agricultural area which is only sixty per cent. larger than that of this country, Germany produces approximately three times as much food of every kind as does this country. British and German agriculture are summarily compared in the tables on page 248. They are based upon the official statistics.
As the German area under woods and forests is eleven times as large as the British, and as the German woods produce far more timber per acre than do the British, the
See The Nineteenth Century and After, September, October, and December, 1909.
German timber production is probably about twenty times as large as the British.
The cultivated area of Germany is 60 per cent. larger than the British cultivated area. If agriculture were equally productive in both countries, Germany should produce only 60 per cent. more than does the United Kingdom. However, we find that Germany produced in 1912 about ten times as much bread-corn as the United
Kingdom, about two-and-a-half times as much barley, about three times as much oats, about nine times as much potatoes, and about two-and-a-half times as much hay. In addition to these comparable crops Germany produced about 2,000,000 tons of sugar from nearly 20,000,000 tons of beet, and vast quantities of tobacco.
According to the latest comparable statistics, Germany has about twice as much cattle as this country, about twoand-a-half times as many milch cows, and about five-and-ahalf times as many pigs. The United Kingdom is superior to Germany only in sheep, which live largely on derelict grass land, and which are of comparatively little value, five sheep being reckoned equal in value to two pigs.
Comparison of the figures given shows that on an agricultural area which is only 60 per cent. larger than that of this country, Germany produces approximately three times as large a quantity of animal and vegetable food. The inferior productiveness of British agriculture is probably ascribable to the form of its organisation. German agriculture is based on freehold ownership, British agriculture on rent. The sense of property induces German, French, and other agriculturists to do their best. Competition for freehold farms drives up their price, and the high price of land compels German and other agriculturists working under the freehold system to increase agricultural production to the utmost. In Great Britain farmers rent their farms at so much a year. The tied-up farms are apt to remain unchanged from century to century. Fields remain unaltered, and so does cultivation. British farmers follow the old routine, and as landowners would make themselves unpopular by raising the rent, necessity does not provide the stimulus of agricultural progress which the freehold system creates in other countries. Largely for psychological reasons British agriculture is conservative and stagnant. A century ago Arthur Young wrote: “The best manure for a field is a high rent.' British landlordism is largely responsible for British agricultural stagnation. The introduction of the freehold system would raise the price of agricultural land and would compel agriculturists to double and treble their output.
If the facts and figures given in these pages are correct, I do not think that they can be successfully challenged it follows that Great Britain can easily pay for the War by introducing, in all her industries, the best and most scientific methods which have been so extraordinarily successful elsewhere.
The tax-collector is, as I have stated before, perhaps