Who Should Get the Land Rent?
This appeared on an email list I'm on, and I share it with the permission
of the person who wrote it. The writer, Dave Wetzel, works for Transport for
London (TfL) which coordinates the transportation system for London, England,
and he wrote it to a correspondent in Australia.
While I don't know quite how their conversation started, his preceding email
Do you think we should all share God's earth?
Or would he want the Duke of Westminster and his ilk to grab it all?
When his correspondent was not sure who the Duke of Westminster is,
or where Dave was headed with this
statement, Dave responded with this (Mayfair, Belgravia and Victoria are posh
neighborhoods in central London):
Eddie, you are a good Christian.
You live in Australia on a farm and say you don't know who the Duke of Westminster
Can I tell you a true story?
If land is a gift of God then surely would God not want all his children to
enjoy its benefits?
On planet earth — fewer than 10% of its inhabitants own and control
over 90% of the natural wealth. The other 90% pay them rent to use what God
My organisation, TfL, runs the Victoria Coach Station. London's terminus for
inter-city bus journeys by coach.
Who travels inter-city by coach — the poorest travellers or the rich?
I'd suggest the rich fly, go by train, or go by car — it is the poorest travellers
who go by coach.
Transport for London does not own all of the coach station. One third of
the land and the old in-bound coach shed is owned by "Grosvenor
We pay them £230,000 per annum for the use of their land.
But where do we get the money from?
We charge the coach companies a fee for every coach that comes into the coach
station and a part of that goes to our landlord.
Where do they get the money from?
They get the money from their ticket prices.
So every poor traveller is contributing towards the £230,000 given
to Grosvenor Estates, which is owned by the Duke of Westminster. (His family
name was "Grosvenor" until Queen Victoria elevated one "Hugh
the peerage in 1874.) They have owned most of Mayfair,
Belgravia and parts of Victoria for hundreds of years.
So, we have the absurdity, . . . . . . . . nay the obscenity!, of the poorest
travellers in the country, subsidising the third richest man in the country,
to the tune of £230,000 per annum!
Surely, the value of this land only arises because people live and work in
our great city?
So surely it is all the people that should benefit from land wealth?
We SHOULD pay rent for the land.
All of the land.
But not to the rich Duke, but to the Government, so that they can use this
natural wealth to pay for schools and hospitals etc.
And not from this one site, but from all the land in the country.
AND if there is any wealth left over — and I'm sure there would be
— the Government could return it to all of us in the form of a land
You might also want to read another of Dave's explanations, also on rent,
or his article on Justice
or Injustice: The Locational Benefit Levy.
As a sidelight, you may want to explore the links in this background material:
In 1677, Sir Thomas Grosvenor married 12 year old Mary Davies and heiress
of a scrivener in the City of London, (heiress of 500 acres of rural land on
the outskirts of London. )
As London grew, this property became the source of the family's immense wealth,
as it was developed into the fashionable areas of Mayfair and Belgravia, which
remains the basis of the family fortune. At least 500 roads, squares and buildings
bear their family names and titles, and the names of place and people connected
with them, including Grosvenor
Square, Belgrave Square, North Audley Street,
South Audley Street, and Davies Street. This is now held by a company called
Grosvenor Group. The family's main country seat is Eaton
Hall, six miles outside
the City of Chester in Cheshire with a minor seat at Ely Lodge in County
In the House of Commons other members of the Grosvenor family sat in one of
the two seats for the City of Chester from 1715 to 1874 without a break. For
forty-two years of this period they held both the Chester seats, while other
members of the family often represented other constituencies.
The marriage portion which the guardians of the twelve-year-old Mary Davies
were able to offer the young Cheshire baronet Sir Thomas Grosvenor in 1677
consisted of some five hundred acres of land, mostly meadow and pasture, a
short distance from the western fringes of built-up London. Not all of this
was to be available in immediate possession and the income from the land was
at that time relatively small, but its potential for future wealth was realized
even then. The area with which this volume is particularly concerned was only
a part of that vast holding, approximately one hundred acres in extent and
sometimes called in early deeds The Hundred Acres, (ref. 1) lying south of
Oxford Street and east of Park Lane. With only minor exceptions this part of
Mary Davies's heritage has remained virtually intact to the present day and
forms the Grosvenor estate in Mayfair. The history of the ownership of this
land before it came into the possession of the Grosvenor family is, however,
best told as part of the history of the larger holding which the third baronet
acquired on his marriage.
Today the bulk of that inheritance is still, despite the sale of some of the
less select parts, enjoyed by her descendants, and is now administered by the
Grosvenor Estate Trustees.
Born himself in 1951, the present Duke of Westminster’s company owns
and manages 300 acres in Belgravia and Mayfair and real estate worth $1.6 billion
worldwide, including properties in Canada, the United States and Australia,
as well as the 225,000 acre Abbeystead grouse moor in Lancashire. The Duke’s
family fortune was estimated at £3.75 billion in the 2006 London
Sunday Times Rich List. As well as homes in London, his family home is
set in the
beautiful Cheshire countryside in the north of England.
From: 'The Acquisition of the Estate', Survey of London: volume 39: The Grosvenor
Estate in Mayfair, Part 1 (General History) (1977), pp. 1-5. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=41820
From: 'The Administration of the Estate 1785-1899: Introduction', Survey of
London: volume 39: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 1 (General History)
(1977), p. 34. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=41834