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10th April 1919, Page 12
10th April 1919
Page 12
Page 13
Page 12, 10th April 1919 — IMPROVING THE TRANSPORT BILL.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

What is Required to Facilitate Road Transport.

IN THE COURSE of his speech to the gathering assembled at the luncheon of the Commercial Motor Users Association, the chairman, Mr. E. S. Shrapnell-Smith, C.B.E ,. referred to a deputation on March 31st from the National Council of the Association to the Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Geddes in connection with the Ministry of Ways and Communications Bill.

We have had the opportunity of seeing the memorandum then placed by the deputation before the Minister-Designate, and we are able hereunder to set it out textually.

The National 'Council of the Association asks :— I.—That the Minister will render assistance to speed up terminal services for road vehicles at docks, wharves, warehouses, and goods yards. This national necessity arises because of higher wages and shorter working hours. The road transport industry cannot meet the new Labour scales under present conditions of terminal working and q waiting turn." The specific proposal is that the Minister should agree to make the following (or equivalent) additions to the Bill : (a) To add to sub-clause c (v) of Clause 3 the words "inclusive of reductions in terminal delays." (h) To add to Clause 3 a new sub-clause (x) in the following (or. equivalent) terms : "for securing Co-operation between undertakings and other carrying or haulage and transport interests, whether individuals, private firms or incorporated companies."

2.—That the Minister will undertake that the proceeds of the motmsspirit tax and the vehicle-licence duty, if continued, will be paid into a Central Road Fund for road improvement and super-maintenance, and that the proceeds of this taxation shall at once revert to the purpoaes for which they were earmarked by Mr. Lloyd George in 1909. Commercial motor users are repeatedly told by local authorities that they, pay nothing towards the roads. As a matter of fact motor traffic on many London highways bears more in the petrol

tax than the total cost of maintaining the in carriageway.. inclusive of foundations. Any new tax will involve duplication of taxation, and it is B34

submitted that the proceeds of the existing heavy taxation should be available for their intended application-to roads and bridges.

Road transport interests are also concerned to have guarantees that all the money recorded as having been spent by local authorities in highw.aymaintenance to meet traffic requirements is. as a fact exclusively so spent, and that this account is -not debited with any charges which wholly or in part concern only pedestrian traffic, or lighting, water and similar non-traffic services.

The specific proposal is that the Minister should agree to make the following (or equivalent) additions to the Bill : To add to that section of the Bill which in its present or ultimate form deals with roads and road traffic a new Clause in the following (or equivalent) terms : "It shall be the duty of all highways authorities on and after April the 5th, 1920, to keep their books of account in such manner and form as to show expenditure on the construction, reconstruction, improvement and. maintenance of roads and bridges distinctly and separately from all expenditure incurred in executing work to or on roads and bridges for purposes or reasons other than provision to carry *heeled traffic." 3.—That the Minister will support exemption of home-produced fuels from the motor-spirit tax.

Commercial motor users, whilst recognizing that this matter is largely one for the Treasury., hope they can rely on the Minister to protect road transport so far as is possible by representations to the Treasury against any risk of recurrence of the fuel -shortage, 19164918. Encouragement for home-produced benzoic and other fuels can best be given by exemption from taxation for a term of years. . 4.—That the Minister will oppose the principle of the imposition of local tolls on roads or bridges by local authorities, and will act as a Board of Appeal in respect of all bridge restrictions and weak bridges. Our specific proposal here is that the Minister will consent to add new Clause to the. Bill in the following (or equivalent) terms: "An appeal . shall lie to the Minister in respect of any restriction upon any traffic passing over or seeking to • cross any bridge or culvert, and the Minister shall have power, notwithstanding any provision in any other statute,. to make such order an he may– think fit concerning the strengthening, standard of maintenance and maintenance of any bridge or culvert, the traffic using it or seeking to use it, and the apportionment of any expenditure involved."

5.—That the Minister will appoint a Board of Appeal to act in all cases where discretion concerning licensing or routes is now in the hands of local councils.

This primarily concerned passenger transport. The Association has some hundreds of members who own chars-à-banes, and it desires to support the views submitted by the London and Provincial Omnibus Owners Association.

6.—That the Minister will without delay appoint a Departmental Committee to exenine the whole questhin of extraordinary traffic, the present position of which is a restraint on trade and likely to hinder reconstruction work.

This is a highly controversial subject. The law is also in a, very unsatisfactory state. The principle for which the Association contends is that lull consideration of all facts and circumstances is impossible at the hands of any committee which has anything beyonth the one subject of extraordinary traffic in its terms of reference.

The National Council of the Association asks that representative bodies shallbe Consulted in an advisory capacity before any new development schemes are taken in hand, and it submits that the Minister will arrange for a Central Consultative Board.

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