The terrors of British land ownership

A report trying to warn us about how unfairly, terribly, land ownership is distributed in Britain. Why, the place is still owned by aristocrats!

Half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population, according to new data shared with the Guardian that seeks to penetrate the secrecy that has traditionally surrounded land ownership.

The findings, described as “astonishingly unequal”, suggest that about 25,000 landowners – typically members of the aristocracy and corporations – have control of half of the country.

To claim that corporate ownership is a problem is itself problematic. For what do we mean by a corporation?

The list is headed by a large water company, United Utilities, which said that much of its land consisted of areas immediately surrounding its reservoirs.

UU is ultimately owned by millions of pensions and other individual shareholders. That land is owned collectively is a problem to whom? But is is this which really caught our eye:

Shrubsole writes that the bulk of the population owns very little land or none at all. Those who own homes in England, in total, own only 5% of the country.

How excellent, housing, including all those gardens, covers some small fraction of the country. That means there’s plenty of room to buy land off the aristocrats and plonk housing - under that individual ownership - on it. We’ve not, that is, got a shortage of land to build upon.

All we need do therefore is allow people to indulge in that voluntary cooperation that is mutual exchange and we’ll have solved the housing problem. That is, the solution to a problem is, as so often turns out to be true, stopping government from preventing people from solving problems on their own. We even have empirical evidence. The last time the private sector built 300,000 houses a year was in the 1930s, before the Town and Country Planning Act stopped the industry from building houses people wanted to live in where they’d like to live.