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the main provisions from our political correspondent
• The Transport Bill received the Royal Assent on Friday. to become the Transport Act 1968, after 356 hours of debate—the longest consideration given to any measure in the history of Parliament.
With its 166 sections and 18 schedules it is the bulkiest Bill to become law at Westminster since World War II
Here is a summary of the main provisions in the new Act which affect the road transport industry:—
FREIGHT Part 1 (Sections 1-8) deals with the setting up of the National Freight Corporation, a new publicly owned authority whose members will be appointed by and be responsible to the Minister of Transport. Its aim is to provide integrated road and rail freight services in Great Britain and in so doing make the maximum economic use of rail.
January 1 1969 is the target date for the vesting in the Corporation of the road goods and shipping companies owned by the Transport Holding Company and of the Railways Board's interests in two freight companies (all listed in Schedule 3).
It also provides for the formation by the Railways Board of two subsidiaries—a Freightliner company and a freight sundries company. In these will be vested the Board's assets connected with the provision of the Freightliner and freight sundries seryices, except for rail wagons; and for the subsequent transfer of those subsidiaries to the National Freight Corporation on vesting day, with the Railways Board retaining a 49 per cent interest in the Freightliner company.
The National Freight Corporation will have a financial duty to "break even" taking one year with another, but the Minister may make grants of up to f 60m over the first five years to offset expected losses on the freight sundries company.
An organizing committee, under Sir Reginald Wilson, is already at work.
A Freight Integration Council will be established to advise the Minister on the provision of an integrated freight transport service throughout the publicly owned sector.
PASSENGER TRANSPORT AUTHORITIES Part II (Sections 9-23) gives the Minister power to designate any area of the country outside London as a Passenger Transport Area. Until the Royal Commissions on Local Government have reported, only four Areas are likely to be established (Greater Manchester, Merseyside, the West Midlands and Tyneside), all by next spring.
It provides for the creation in each area of a Passenger Transport Authority and a Passenger Transport Executive. Their tasks will be to integrate and develop the public transport services in their areas. All but two or three members of each Authority will be appointed by local councils in the area.
The PTA's are designed to play a key role in co-ordinating. the hitherto separate processes of transport planning and land-use
planning. The Authorities will be responsible for broad policy; the Executives, to be appointed by the Authorities, will run the public transport system.
They will have powers to carry passengers themselves or through subsidiaries, and to make contracts with other operators.
They will take over all the municipal passenger transport undertakings in their areas. The Executives will make agreements with the new National Bus Company (see Part III) and the Railways Board for whatever services the PTA requires from those organizations in their areas.
BUSES (Part III Sections 24-37) provides for the setting up of the National Bus Company which will own the securities of the existing bus companies and bus manufacturing concerns of the Transport Holding Company, apart from those vested in the Scottish Bus Group.
The new company. to be set up on January 1 1969, will own and operate more than 20,000 buses and will be responsible for for virtually all the basic network of local bus services outside the main municipalities in England and Wales.
Mr. A. N. Todd is to be chairman and Mr. T. W. H. Galley chief executive of the company which will have a statutory duty to co-operate with the PTAs.
A Scottish Transport Group is also to be established. It will absorb the Scottish Bus Group (nearly 5,000 buses) and MacBraynes from the Transport Holding Company and the Caledonian Steam Packet Company from the Railways Board.
NATIONALIZED TRANSPORT BOARD (Part IV Sections 38-58) contains a number of important provisions relating to the structure finance and powers of the public boards and the new authorities concerned with transport. It also provides for the "write off" of debts and specific grants designed to enable British Rail to pay its way from January 1 1969.
Another provision lifts the restriction on nationalized Transport Board's workshops to enable them to manufacture or repair for outside customers as well as for themselves.
They are also empowered to sell petrol and car accessories and to repair vehicles at the car parks they already own. Use of these powers is subject to Ministerial approval and control and must be exercised as if they were companies engaged in a commercial enterprise.
LORRY LICENSING (Part V Sections 59-94) "reforms and liberalizes" the carriers' licensing system for commercial vehicles. The 900,000 vehicles not exceeding 30cwt unladen weight are completely exempted from carriers' licensing (Section 931. But -quality" licensing (Sections 60-70) will apply to the 600,000 vehicles over that weight, whether operated on "own-account" or for hire or reward.
An "operator's licence" will be required (Sections 60-63), and the granting of this will depend on the applicant's fitness to run and maintain a road haulage fleet. This, according to the Government, is aimed at eliminating "the minority of tearaway operators who are a menace to road safety".
Quality" licensing is planned to come into force in the autumn of 1969. All operators will have either to hold a "transport manager's licence" themselves or employ in a responsible position someone holding such a licence, although this feature of "quality" licensing is not expected to be introduced until early in 1970.
There is provision (Sections 71-80) for the system of -quantity" licensing for the 100,000 goods vehicles weighing more than 16 tons gross and doing trips of more than 100 miles or carrying certain bulk goods (for example coal and specified minerals) over shorter distances,
The National Freight Corporation and British Railways Board will be given the right to object to applications for "special authorizations" for such operations on the grounds that the proposed service could be provided wholly or partly by rail.
The "special authorization" will be granted unless the Licensing Authority considers that, in terms of speed, reliability and cost as they affect the needs of the consignor, the objector can carry the goods at least as efficiently as the applicant.
No firm date has been fixed for the introduction of "quantity" licensing and it is not expected before the middle of 1970. The Minister has said it will depend upon the satisfactory development of the rail freightliner network.
DRIVERS' HOURS (Part VI Sections 95-103) will reduce the statutory maximum working hours for lorry and bus drivers from 14 to 11 hours a day, subject to some allowance for a "sprearlover", and to 60 hours a week.
It also limits the time drivers may spend at the wheel to a 10-hour day. It is hoped to introduce these reductions in the spring of 1969. There is provision for further reductions Ito nine hours at the wheel) to be made later.
Commercial vehicles over 30cwt unladen weight and buses will have to carry tachographs to record driving time. The Minister may adapt the law to conform to any international agreements which may be reached on limiting drivers' hours on international journeys.
MISCELLANEOUS (Part X Sections 134166) provisions include the imposition of a "commercial duty" on nationalized transport authorities and PTEs when engaging in trading activities, and cover compensation for staff adversely affected by transfers under the Act and pension rights safeguards.
Another provision empowers the Minister to set up a Channel Tunnel Planning Council to prepare the ground for a public operating body for the Tunnel.