SUGGESTED AMENDMENT OF THE LAND ACT.
We have been favored with a copy of ft circular letter (accompanied by a draft of » petition to Parliament) which at the instance of the Tauranga County Counoil is now being oircnlated among the County Counoils m the North Island, and the subject matter of which is of equal interest to residents m this part of the colony. Shortly stated, the object of this petition is deolared to be "to have all the Crown Lands of the colony, wherever situated, thrown open for selection at any time without the present cumbrous system of public notification by the Governor, and a long delay between that public notification and the time at which selection may be made ; to remove every unnecessary restriction from the selection of lands, and to give every intending settler the privilege of at any time securing for himself, by application to the Land Office of the district, any piece of land he may be desirous of selecting, whether already surveyed or not." The petition sets forth «« that by ' The Land Act, 1885/ and its Amendments, the Crown lands of the colony can be obtained for settlement only (a) after being advertised for sale for the space of a month, and then sold by auction, or (b) only after publio notification by the Governor that such lands are open for selection, and when a period of not lesß than forty-five days has elapsed since such first public notification ; that m the case of applications lodged on the same day for surveyed lands open for selection under the provisions of 'The Land Act Amend ment Act, 1887,' the priority of such applications is decided by lot ; and that m the case of both surveyed and unsurveyed lands, selections can be made only out of such lands as are publicly notified to be open for such selection." It goes on to say that the petitioners "believe that the regulations and procedure surrounding the obtaining of land by intending settlers are of such a nature as to place unnecessary hindrances m the Way of the settler selecting such land ashe may desire to have, inasmuch as too great a length of time elapses between the public notification and the period at which the lands may be selected or acquired, and as no lands can be selected or acquired unless such l*nd has been publicly notified as open for selection or purchase." It is further advanced as the opinion of the petitioners "that it would greatly conduce to the more speedy settlement of the Crown lands of the Colony if intending settlers were permitted to select any parcel of land, with limits as to size as already defined, from any of the Crown lands, and were permitted at any time to lodge an application for such land at the Land Office of the district, and that on payment of a deposit as prescribed by law the Land Officer should issue a certificate authorising the applicant to occupy the land m any of the modes provided by the Land Acts." In proof of their contention that the existing regulations militate against the settlement of th.c land, the petitioners assert (and the statement is borne out by the testimony of the Tauranga Council m the oiroular letter referred to) that "it has happened on many occasions that gentlemen, travelling through the various districts of the Colony, and on the look out for land suitable for settlement, have been desirous of obtaining portions of Crown lands whioh appeared suitable for their purpose, bnt on making enquiry as to whether such land waß obtainable or not, have been tnet with the response that, m ike case of lands declared open for selection, | the land might be obtained at the end of the currency of the public notification, and that m the oase of lands not so % - •*•**& open for ©election, a consjderaeuioi^. . - ■— «ti v ensue before able delay must necesß»». v - suoh land could possibly be aqquired ; and, that thereupon such intending settlers, being unable to wait the length of time prescribed by law, and recognising the precariousness of their chance of ultimately obtaining the land wished for, have been obliged either to purchase at an exorbitant rate land already alienated from the Crown, or to remove to another country, to the great loss and detriment of this Colony." We think our readers will concur m the contention of the petitioners that "every facility should be given to intending settlors "to select such parcels of Crown lands as they may desire (within the limits of the law) m any district m the Colony where there are Crown lands available, and we do not see that any objection that could not easily be met can be urged to the proposal which is made by the petitioners for the amendment of the law. It is perfeotly true that it is not desirable to be perpetually tinkering with the land laws, but such an amendment a* this would not be open to characterisation by that opprobrious term, as it would not interfere one whit with the principles of the Act, while vastly simplifying the machinery under it. The Act of 1885 has given what had long been wanted, the choice of tenure to the intending settler, and if only any such intending settler could take up any Crown land under any system at any time there would be nothing left to be desired. The amendment asked for by the petitioners would be a manifest improvement, tod we hope they will be luccewfal » obUiQiogit,
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