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We aue glad to see that the Government has postponed the sale of the leases of the Canterbury Euns from the 29th April, as originally fixed, to the 30th May, and we also think that they have done wisely m deciding that for the country Houih of the, Kangitata the sale shall take placo at Timaru, and that for' the country lying North of that river at Christchurch. It is also satisfactory to find that, as we had anticipated would be the case, 210,000 acres are to be withdrawn as being land suitable for settlement, and that 40,000 acres more, which it is considered may also come to be required for that purpose, will only be leased subject to the right of resumption. AH this is as it should be, but the result of the labors of the Classification Commission has been the placing of so small a proportion of the whole area dealt with m Classes 11. and 111., that it is imperative that the Government should carefully consider the conditions of the leases to bo granted for the lands included m Class 1., i c., pastoral runs proper, as distinguished from small grazing runs. Indeed these lands m Class I. should be sub-divided into three groups, viz. : — 1 The most remote and roughest country which may safely be let for the maximum term of twenty-one years certain without right of resumption ; 2 Country which may safely be so let for periods of seven, ten, or fourteen years ; and 3 Country which being nearest to centres of population and of lowest elevation should only be let (the term of lease is then unimportant) snbject to express provision that it may be resumed by the Crown upon notice given and the payment of reasonable compensation. One of our contemporaries (the " North Otago Times") is of opinion that the provision for twenty-one years' indeterminable leases should never have been enacted, and thinks that "it will certainly be cheaper m the long run to create small grazing runs m excess o the current requirements than to have land really suitable for settlement on that system locked up for the long period of twenty one years. And indeed so much is this the case, and so much must it be realised at the present juncture, that we should not be surprised if a strong effort were made to delay the sale of the leases of the larger area until Parliament has had an opportunity of considering a proposal to rid the statute book of the twenty-one years' tenure for large runs Indeed, we think that it is for this that the people should now chiefly agitate, for were the old tenure, with right of resumption on giving twelve months' notice, reinstated, then settlement of all kinds could be effected progressively m keeping with the just requirements of the people from time to time." Our contemporary's suggestion is a good one, and we also are of opinion that it would be tar better to give Parliament an opportunity of reviewing the classification and the terms* of the leases to be granted. This would be far more satisfactory to the public than hugrying on the sales, while, as for the present lessees of the runs, any inconvenience which they might otherwise sustain for want of due notice of the determination of their expiring leases, might be easily 'provided against by giving them tho option of six months' extension. But we do not agree with our Oamaru contemporary that m no case should there be fixity of tenure. There are large areas of rough country, which will under no conceivable probable circumstances be required for settlement within 21 years, and which will bring m better revenues to the Public Exchequer if leased absolutely for definite terms, and there is forca m the objection taken, from the precisely opposite standpoint to that of the Oamaru paper, by another "contemporary the " South Canterbury Times," which urges that fixity of tenure, though for shorter terms, should be extended to the lands m Class II i.e., the Bmall grazing runs or hill farms of from 1000 to 5000 acres. It says : — " A glance at the classification maps, with some knowledge of the localities, gives one tho impression that the chance of obtaining a small grazing run is not, m the majority of cases, a thing for anyone to grow excited over. Here and there are one or two that could be worked economically, and are worth a higher rental than has been paid for the country heretofore, but for the rest— ' there's very little m it.' To take up one of theße runs, any person not already settled near it must build himself a house, put up fencing, erect yards and other appliances for working it, and finally stock it, and anyone who has capital enough for all this could generally do better with his money. If the tenure to be given were longer, and certain, these runs would offer a bettor bargain. For ten years not certain the majority are not worth taking up I —that is by persons who propose to make a home upon them, and a living from them, and from them only. Many of the runs would be useful additions to the holdings of people already settled near them, and if let at all, singly, it is such people who will probably take them. To other people most of them would be dear at a gift. There have been some hints dropped that thiß class of country will not be pu,t up for lease at all, but withdrawn from lease, and offered for sale or perpetual lease at once. In our opinion this is what should be done with tnera, Not m the sizes laid out for grazing rune, bnt m areas reduced to the smallest convenient dimensions. The country is all hilly, and natural divisions of spur and gaily should determine the areas . Instead of — very i doubtfully — securing the temporary settlement of 42 miniaturo squatters, the number of small runs laid out, three, four, or six or more times that number oi families could then be permanently fixed on the land. The leaseholder must have a big profit to recoup his out--1 lay during the short term of his lease ; 5 the freeholder or perpetual leaseholder may be content to " rub along" for as I many years, yet working hopefully at r improving his holding, knowing that t whatever improvements he makes are his own. This must eventually be the fate ' of the second-class country, and it ' would be better to accept it at once." . We have all the same objeot m view, , namely, jbhe settlement of the land, and i we repeat that the wisest course would i undoubtedly be to let Parliament discuss the whole matter with the report of the Commission and the suggestions since made $nd to bo made beforo them ; but [ if this be pot done and the sale bo I proceeded with at the end of May then the rec^uiremettfe of tho ewe c ftQ k e

fairly well met if the Government will proceed First (and before the sale of leases) to with^vtiw all the lands now included m Classes IT and II J, and all other lands which upon reasonable grounds it can be shown should further be included m one or other of those classes, and Second to distinguish between the lands to bo leased m May as pastoral runs m the manner we have suggested at the outset of this article. This they have ample power to do, Clause 10 of " The Land Act Amendment Act, 1888/' although giving the poivcr to lease for " any term certain not exceeding twenty-one years," by no means, as we read it, rendering it obligatory to grant indeterminable leases, and m resolving to have different kinds of leases for different kinds of lands the Government will, we hold, be quite within the letter as well as the spiriff of the law. And this being so it is also desirable — nay, we should perhaps rather say necessary—that all doubt as to the right to prospect for minerals over lands held under pastoral lease should be specifically provided for. Thirdly it is absolutely essential, if there is to be any benefit at all from the classification of the country which h«8 just been completed, that all lands of inferior quality (into which will fall all the lands m Class II) should be declared v secondclass " lands as provided by Section 10 of " The Land Act Amendment Act, 1887," and that the cash price (and consequently the leasehold rental) should be reduced to the minimum, or to within a trifle of the minimum ("l Ob per acre) provided for .m Section 4 of the same Act. We trust that these and ether suggestions mado m various quarters will bo carefully considered by the Government, and that the outcome will be that the vast estate now falling m will be dealt with m such a manner as will best promote the cause of settlement and the best interests of the colony at large.

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Bibliographic details

THE RE-LETTING OF THE RUNS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2096, 28 March 1889

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THE RE-LETTING OF THE RUNS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2096, 28 March 1889