Chairman, Officers Quizzed By The Press
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WHILST the Association and British Road Services would be happy if there VY were only one haulage wages machine, there was little point in discussing the hypothesis. This was said by Mr. Good, the national chairman, at a Press Conference on Monday. Mr. Good and his officers were questioned extensively, especially by The Commercial Motor. The questions and answers follow.
Now that the likelihood of a General Election is nearer, what measures are the Road Haulage Association going to adopt to defend hauliers' interests?
The Association have noted with concern the general, if not in all cases specific, threat of further nationalization made in the course of the Labour Party Conference at Brighton.
There must be many industries that are feeling apprehensive about what would happen to them if a Labour Government were returned at the next General Election, although they may not have been mentioned by name at the Labour Party Conference. It is hoped that these industries will take steps to prepare themselves well in advance and possibly consider united action.
Are you satisfied with the present licensing law?
It was just a year ago that the Association announced the setting up of a Licensing Study Group to look into every aspect of licensing and to put forward proposals for any changes that might seem desirable.
During the past 12 months the Committee have met several times and in the course of their discussions have examined in considerable detail not only the licensing system in Britain but also the methods used to regulate road transport in other countries, The Committee's report will in due course be submitted to the National Council who will then decide what action is to be taken.
Do you think the wages machinery would he strengthened if British Road Services came under the R.H. Wages Council?
The position of the employers' side would be considerably strengthened if B.R.S. came under the Road Haulage Wages Council, or some similar system, mainly because the trade unions would no longer be able to use the agreements, or, in some cases, the possibility of agreements, with the nationalized undertaking to support their claims to the Wages Council. There is little point, however, in discussing the hypothesis. Previous representations by the Association to the Ministry of Labour in this matter have achieved no success.
Is the present system of calculating vehicle taxation on unladen weight adequate; if it is not, what would you recommend?
There have been no serious objections to the present system of calculating vehicle taxation although it is the Association's opinion that the present rate of taxation is far too high. In your opinion, do hauliers really appreciate the growing weight of public opinion against them, particularly on account of black smoke and overloading?
Members and their drivers are seriously concerned by the frequent criticisms appearing in the Press on such things as black smoke and overloading. From a careful study of Press reports the Association are convinced that a good deal of the criticism is part of a deliberate campaign to make road transport unpopular.
Nevertheless, there are offenders, and efforts are made consistently to impress upon members the importance of a high standard of maintenance, efficiency and courtesy.
Good publicity for any industry must have access to ample basic facts. What additional statistics and data are being compiled by the newly created information department to offset the general public's apathy and ignorance of road transport's vital part in the national economy?
First of all, it must be stressed that far too little statistical information is available about the road transport industry. The frequent attacks to which reference is made in the last answer are often based on misleading and inaccurate figures, so that there is room for a good deal of useful work in analysing and interpreting the available statistics, The results of some of this work may be found in this year's conference handbook, produced for the first time by the Association's Public Relations Department.
On the positive side, valuable work can be and is being done in collecting fresh information. Recent examples include the preparation of a detailed report to the Rochdale Committee and of facts and figures to support the Asso'ciation's campaign for quicker turn round.
Are power weight ratios on existing vehicles adequate for all purposes?
The power/weight ratios of existing 'vehicles in this country are below those of vehicles operating on the Continent. It is considered that the ratios in this country should be materially increased to provide even greater efficiency of vehicles, and also to avoid some of the difficulties experienced by ha LI hers through the emission of diesel smoke.
What plans have the R.H.A, for ensuring that transfer of freight traffic front rail to road made patently inevitable when the rail freight map was published, is not pre-arranged so British Road
Services and/or rail-owned road vehicles exclusively?
The future pattern of goods transport in Britain will continue to depend, as it has done for many years past, on competition. It seems unlikely that any trader will accept without question the proposal that he should transfer to British Road Services the traffic that is at present being carried by rail. He will inevitably take the sensible course of assessing the alternative services before making his choice.
Other Questions "I think both B.R.S. and the R.H.A. would be happy if there were one wages machine. Both parties would appreciate it " Mr. Good said in answer to another question about co-operation with B.R-S on wages.
Replying to a question about the proposed 40 m.p.h. speed limit, Mr. G. K. Newman, secretary-general, said that it was impossible to evaluate whether they were in favour or not. They did not know what Mr. Marples meant when he referred to "certain trunk routes," To the question: "What do R.H.A. members think about Britain's entry into the Common Market?" Mr. Newman said that that was a question that it was impossible to answer. They had sludied the matter, but could not form any opinion unless they knew in considerable detail what the terms were going to be.
Mr. A. R. Butt said that the international haulier had shown himself fully capable of dealing with any traffic that was moved to the Continent at present. The haulier was, furthermore, in a most favourable position to cope with anything that came along in the future.
Replying to the question: " Assuming the railways were successfully reorganized, did the Association visualize competition or a strong measure of co-operation?" Mr. Good said that the Association wish for co-operation— they were a unit of the internal transport system. They had to see what could be done to see if they could become an integral part of the whole.
Asked if there was any R.H.A. policy on demurrage charges, Mr. Good said that they had not got down to detail and had no policy. If the current campaign to turn vehicles round more quickly were successful, Mr. Newman said, charges would be more likely to remain static.
Dealing with licensing, Mr. Good said that something should be done about the length of time which elapsed between the lodging of an application and the time it was dealt with. "We feel that should be reviewed by the Minister," he said.
"Some of us wonder whether the stage has been reached where something a little more than parochial should be discussed," was the reply received to the question of whether the Association were satisfied with the way Licensing Authorities were administering the law in the various traffic areas.