Analysis of New A.R.O. Policy
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Whether or Not the R.H.A. Adopts the Principles Expounded by the Hauliers Sectional Board of A.R.0. They Afford an Interesting Blue-print for Criticism or Revision ly HauReis in General
AT long last one of the representative bodies has been stirred into action and has issued a Statement of policy, to wit, the A.R.O. Whether or not this comes as a direct result of the demands made so consistently in the pages of " The Commercial Motor" is by the way. What does matter is that hauliers now have something concrete to think about—and think they should not fail to do.
The proposals are of a far-reaching character, some quite new and not without significance. .Haulage contractors, therefore, should examine closely the full statement and give the most thoughtfulconsideration to its contents. They should mot permit prejudice to influence judgment, neither should the .suggestiOns., be accepted blindly or be regarded as being beyond criticism or revision in instances dictated by practical and soundreason.
As a matter of fact, the statement provides one of the best opportunities for those engaged in road haulage tO reason •things out for themselves rather than to accept what they are told by the other fellow.
It should be remembered that the proposals deal with post-war planning and that, whether they be accepted in part or as, a whole, the -futtil-career of hauliers will be
. In order that the policy ...finally adopted should be a• true reflection 41 the ideas atid-,--wiSlieS, of the general body of haulage contractors, and not those of .a pea-et-fat Minority,
there shotild he neither hesitation nor wasted opportunities, in the voicing of ppinion. Operators should be determined
that, if the blue-print :noabefore them ,regaires .rnodifications, such alteration.s must be made until, at length, the structure is built to their Satisfaction, Before proceeding to deal With the specific' proposals .recorritnended by-. the Hauliers' Sectional Board; it might be well-to underline the reference -Made to the small
operator. The remark that the industry has survived the load of. taxation and legislative restriction imposed upon it during the .past 15 years because of the initiative, courage
and resthirce. of the Small;operators, is warmly .welcomed. But, why this belated admission. of ;Such an obviousfact?' It is more than probable-that, if the A.R.O. or theS.J.:C:
had frankly recognized this view two years ago, many of the casualties which have befallen the small men might have been preventeT • Value of Small Haulier Recognized
Apparently it is the considered opinion of the Board that the retention -in the industry of the small operator is essential. There is, however, a civalifica.tion. with regard taa the stall man'which,.tci quote the memorandum, reads: _provided he conducts his business with the just claims of the community as a whole." What, exactly, des this mean? Is it intended to convey that a.'smaIloperatOrL-: when he has fulfilled all the, statutory obligations required of him—may have to forfeit his licence on the grounds that he is. surplus to requirements and, sp, not serving the
After reviewing the conditions imposed upon the industry by.successive Traffic Acts, various regulations and the Road Haulage Wages Act, the Board proposes one further control. It is described as a "Code of Conduct and Fair Trading " and is bound up with the question of competition between the various forms of transport revolving' around a rates structure. • The reason given for the -suggestion is: ." In order to secure fair competition between the various forms of transport one further control is necessary. The proposals ielative to an agreed rates structure, obligatory 'on both road and rail, contained in the 1939 TransPort Advisory Council Repcirt, embody almost all that is required.!:, It is evident that th,e Board is desirous of planning the future of the road-haulage industry on similar lines to those of the railways, With the Road a,nd Rail Conference as the foundation stone. This means that as " the Railway Rates Tribunal has jurisdiction over the conditions of carriage of the railway companies, which conditions are statutory and can be altered only by application to the Tribunal," so would Operators be controlled by the proposed code.
After emphasizing the necessity of enforcement,. the Board suggests that the method to be adopted is that of endowing the Road Haulage As§ocia.tion (of the future) with powers similar to those of the Law Society. Thus the Association would become the Registrar of Hauliers and Clearing Houses.. it is further suggested that it should not be compulsory for every haulier and clearing house to become a member of the R.H.A. Such registration, however, would entail compliance with the Code subject to the right of appeal.
Suggested Code Has Some Attraction
• The picture of the Code, as it is presented, is not without attraction and, moreover, it has idealistic tendencies. Notwithstanding these facts it is questionable whether, having regard, to,,, the existing statutory conditions go verffing. the owner414,rand use ocroad,.vehicles, an addi tional: imposition is 'either desitAle or necessary. Any disciplinai y'. action deemed expedient might well be under-taken lay the Licensing AUthority. This in the opinion of peOple, wobld•provide a guarantee of neutrality, with
justice based upon facts. • As to the proposed statutofy enforcement of a rates schedule, this should he compiled by the industry for the industry and should not be co-related to the rates of the railway companies.
Before the proposals regarding the "Code of Conduct'and Fair Trading " be accepted they should be given earnest and .serious consideration by every haulier. This is supremely important in view of the far-reaching effects
arising therefrom. •
The suggestions 'under the heading "Licensing System " 'will meet with 'general approval. They ensure that ebumed'.' 'Of -basic -tonnage origirially.provided for in the Road and Raid Traffic,Act shall not hereafter be in dispute, ,provided that the operator concerned complies with the statutory conditions and with the provisions of the Code. This, however, again raises the question regarding the position of noh-registrants, Under the scheme will they he subjected to opposition in 'the Licensing Courts, not because they are surplus to requirements or are bad operators, but because they have not registered under. the Code?
The opinion of the .Board regarding re-entry into the industrk,of Iv-trier operators is explained in the following:— " The Board -will -give all the assistance in its power to secure the return of their. licences to those of its members who may have had to surrender them'through circumstances of the war, either .through themselves being called 'to the Forces, or through loss of vehicles by impressment or otherwise. It feels confident that, in such cases, the Licensing Authorities will adopt the most sympathetic attitude."
Quite frankly this is disappointing and unsatisfactory. Particularly so, in view of the case which, readers may recall; was described in the issue of this journal dated December 10, 1943. It related to a former operator who, • after being discharged from the 'Army, applied to the Road Transport Commissioner for a, licence similar to that which he held until1942, wheii he joined the Forces. His applica" lion was refused on 'the ground that there were sufficient vehicles of a similar kind operating in the area. Surely the Board should interest itself in supporting the claims of men so unfortunately placed. These latter, on returning from active service, should be guaranteed an automatic reneWal of their licences.