Title: The United Committee for the Taxation of Land Values, 1906-1977
Predominant Dates: 1919-1938
Arrangement: Arranged in four series: I. Reports, Correspondence, and Officer Publications; II. Leaflets, Pamphlets, and other Committee Publications; III. Land & Liberty; and, IV. Material from Associated Leagues
The United Committee for the Taxation of Land Values formed March 23, 1907 during a meeting called to address the need for a committee representative of the movement for the taxation of land values in all parts of the United Kingdom. Those present at the meeting unanimously resolved:
“That a Committee be formed to be called the United Committee for the Taxation of Land Values, to consist of representatives from the Scottish, English, and Irish Leagues, with power to add to their number, for the purpose of promoting the Taxation of Land Values throughout Great Britain and Ireland, and in particular, strengthening and assisting the Leagues for the Taxation of Land Values…and taking independent action by publishing and distributing literature, organizing in fresh districts and arranging meetings and speeches in the constituencies, especially during bye-elections, and that an appeal be made for contributions to a fund to be at the disposal of the Committee, and that Mr. W.R. Lester be appointed Treasurer of the fund.”
Crompton Davies and John Paul were appointed Secretaries of the Committee. As Committee Secretary, Paul continued to edit Single Tax, the monthly organ of the Scottish League for the Taxation of Land Values. The Single Tax was later renamed Land Values and eventually, Land & Liberty. A.W. Madsen replaced Paul as Committee Secretary and Editor of Land & Liberty upon his death in 1933.
During its first decade, the United Committee devoted much of its resources toward press campaigns designed to spread awareness of and lobby for the taxation of land values at the local and national levels. Many of these campaigns centered around local elections where city and county governments were considering moving towards a system of land value taxation, also known as land or site value rating. Often, the United Committee and its member organizations published voter guides and election pamphlets that addressed various benefits associated with land value taxation.
In January 1929, the Committee decided to incorporate, adopted an official constitution, and began operating as a non-partisan educational association. According to the constitution, the objects of the Committee are “To promote economic freedom and social justice by publishing, advocating and maintaining the principles and policy of Land Value Taxation and Free Trade as expounded by Henry George.”
Shortly after its incorporation, Louis P. Jacobs established and endowed the Henry George Foundation of Great Britain with 10,000 pounds. Jacobs appointed the members of the United Committee as trustees of this fund and stipulated its use solely for the publication, advertising, and circulation of works by Henry George and “kindred literature.” According to its 1935 annual report, the United Committee had published more than 260,000 books and pamphlets between 1928 and 1935.
Among the more than 20 member organization represented by the United Committee as of 1935, the English and Scottish Leagues for the Taxation of Land Values represent two of the oldest and most active.
The English and Scottish Leagues for the Taxation of Land Values
The English League for the Taxation of Land Values grew out of the Land Reform Union, which formed in 1883 when several members of Alfred Russell Wallace’s Land Nationalisation Society decided to form a separate organization to “embrace land nationalisers of all shades of opinions” including single taxers. The Union membership also included many socialists such as H.H. Champion and R.P.B. Frost. Prior to George’s second tour of the British Isles (1883-1884), financed by the Land Reform Union, Champion and Frost urged the American to embrace socialist principles. When George refused, a divide formed between socialists and single taxers in Great Britain. Following single taxers in Scotland, in April 1884, the remaining members voted to rename the Union the English Land Restoration League.
The Scottish Land Restoration League had formed on February 18, 1884 following a speech by George at Glasgow City Hall. Unlike the Land Reform Union, the Scottish League deliberately avoided using the term “land nationalization,” which was heavily associated with Wallace’s group and its support of compensating landowners, to describe the single tax. Instead, the Scottish League articulated a legislative program that called for the “restoration” of the land to the people through the taxation of land rent. In 1903, the English Land Restoration League rebranded itself the English League for the Taxation of Land Values with the clear objective to “secure the taxation of land values.”
Frederick Verinder, a founding member of the United Committee served as the General Secretary of the English League from 1902 until his death in 1948. His writings and publications are featured in series one and two of this collection. The collection also houses the works of A.W. Madsen and W.R. Lester, both of whom held multiple positions within the United Committee and its member organizations over an extended period of time.
The Reformers’ Year Book. 1903. (Brighton, UK: The Harvester Press, 1972), 89.
United Committee for the Taxation of Land Values. Report for the Year 1907.
United Committee for the Taxation of Land Values. Report for the Year 1935.
Alexandra W. Lough, “The Last Tax: Henry George and the Social Politics of Land Reform in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.” Ph.D. diss. (Brandeis University, 2013).