As a young doctor in rural South Africa (1975-76), my father, Julian Pratt, questioned the underlying cause of the diseases he was treating and identified how the grossly unequal distribution of land for agriculture was having a devastating effect. As a result, he became passionate about land reform and pursued this interest for the next 40 years.
Julian, who has died aged 70, researched, proposed and campaigned for a radical approach to the market economy, replacing private ownership of land with a system he described as stewardship. He built on work by Thomas Paine and Henry George, and advocated that everyone should be entitled to an equal share of the wealth of the natural world. In a stewardship economy, “stewards” would pay a fee (a land tax) for the exclusive right to use land. The fee, gathered by government in place of conventional taxes, would be used to provide a universal basic income and fund public services. He outlined his ideas in a book, Stewardship Economy: Private Property Without Private Ownership (2011) and on his website, www.stewardship.ac. He described how the transition to a stewardship economy could be made, and last year contributed to a Liberal Democrat policy paper, Taxing Land, Not Investments (2018).