Under the Constitution Act the Commonwealth is given the control of the postal and telegraph departments, public defence and several other services, as well as the power of levying customs and excise duties; its powers of taxation are unrestricted, but so far no taxes Dave been imposed other than those just mentioned.
The reply of the Colonial Office contained the following statements of general policy: - " With the progressive development of society the tendency is to enlarge the functions and widen the sphere of action of the central government as well as of the local authorities, and to claim for them a more or less exclusive use of powers, and the performance of services where the desired result is difficult to attain through private enterprise, or where the result of entrusting such powers or services to private enterprise would be detrimental to the public interest, through their being in that event necessarily conducted primarily for the benefit of the undertakers rather than of the public. This tendency is specially manifested in cases where from the magnitude or other conditions of the enterprise the public is deprived of the important safeguard of unrestricted competition..
This has been due to speculation, to the unrestricted pasturage of goats, to the rights which many communes have over the forests, and to some extent to excessive taxation, which led the proprietors to cut and sell the trees and then abandon the ground to the Treasury.
There is also this further disadvantage, that in the gradual progress of consolidation railway companies take upon themselves the aspect of large monopolies, of whose apparently unrestricted power the public is jealous.
When the aim of the man of affairs and the hypothesis of the economist was unrestricted competition, and measures were being adopted to realize it, general theory such as the classical economists provided was perhaps a sufficiently trustworthy guide for practical statesmen and men of business.
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