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Joint Association Policy By Eagerly . Awaited " Tantalus " Will

11th February 1944
Page 31
Page 31, 11th February 1944 — Joint Association Policy By Eagerly . Awaited " Tantalus " Will
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

the .Policy for Road Transport Meet Those Conditions of Freedom, Fair Dealing and the Preservation of Personal Initiative and Enterprise for Which the Na!ion is Fighting ?

if-rHE controversy concerning State control versus

private enterprise in relation to industnyks.4ows no sign of abating.. Indeed, it continues to 'absorb the thoughtful attention of all sections of the community and provides a constant topic fof discussion wherever and when ever men Meet, It is one of the dark patches obscuring n clear vision of the future. .

A ray of light, however, has been afforded by the Conservative Sub-committee on Industry, which recently published a report under the title of " Work." At. this point, and in parentheseS, it might be well 'o emphasize that, so far as this journal is concerned, I have. the word . of the Editor that it is interested in no particular political , party. . . .

Now to proceed. The report merits attention because it contains statements of principle bearing definiteconstructive values. Asis very rightly pointed out, the time is not ripe for presenting a detailed pOlitidal programme, and the report deals instead with the place which industry occupies in daily life and the part played by all those engaged in it, as also by the State. It further 'adds that to regard ■ industry as a congeries of a limited number of large units is entirely wrong. Particularly worth noting is the statement that, prior to the war, two-thirds of the workers in the country were employed in factories having pay-rolls • of less than COO,

Whilst it is admitted that the big units and combines enjoy certain advantages in the matter of buying, organization, etc., -nevertheless it is the small manufacturer who is the backbone of the country, and upon his courage and enterprise the future largely depends.

The main lesson to be learned from the .report is that four conditions are needed for the establishing of healthy industrial life after the war. These are freedom, knowledge, efficiency and co-operation. Freedom is described as a full and continuous opportunity to earn a living. The war has necessitated certain curtailments of freedom, such, for example, as the Essential Work Orders and the compulsory direction of workers. These must go as soon as possible.

. Knowledge means that every worker must be part and parcel of the organization, so that he knows what the concern is doing and what are the difficulties obtaining. This is one of the lessons produced by the war, both in the factory and in the field. , Regarding monopolies, the report states that a full disclosure should be made to the public concerning scope and activities and,_ particularly, in relation to international cartels.

, Enterprise Lost by State Ownership .

So far as efficiency is concerned, this springs from knowledge and enterprise. Where State ownership exists there is generally lack of enterprise and elasticity, and this condition of affairs is not conducive to efficiency.

Co-Operation is essential,not only between owners, inanagers and workpeople, but also between industry and the State. The joint production committees are regarded as valuable, and, it is felt, they should be continuedafter the war. As to co-operation between industry and Ihe State, the Opinion is expressed that this should cover a wide field remote from .moribund political issues.

It is suggested that the whole system of direct taxation demandS fundamental reform. .so that research, .progress and enterprise shall'ilOt be restricted nor rendered financially impossible.

The foregoing is a brief summary of the outstanding features of the report, Whieh adds a valuable cOntribution to the debatable subject concerning the desirability or Otherwise of State control. ,

Regarding the views expressed erancerning the small man, as against the big unit, and. the necessity of freedom to earn a living,. these are enormously interesting and might have been written witt special reference to those engaged in the road-haulage. industry, So ziptly .do they apply. They , provide, a striking. contrast to the proposals .propounded recently, by those memberc of the industry now usually termed " The Eight."

, It is encouraging to note that there are men. who are giving serious thoughts to the Ifuture and endeavouring to eyolve schemes worthy of consideration. Without doubt, the 'demand or social and eeoncimic change must become an important .factor in post-war planning and one 'which will deeply concern Government and citizens alike. Therefore, it Must be that, until details and plans aCe Snail agreed, upon,-discussion and controversy must, cnilinue to increase in intensity:

Joint Policy Urgently Needed

In view of all this it becomes ever more important that a policy Or the future of the road-transport industry should be announced., so that those directly concerned May be afforded ample opportunity of full assimilation before accepting, 'amending or rejecting the proposals: Operators should not be stampeded and placed in the position of -being compelled to accept any plans, It is for the representatives of the industry to make lip theic minds and decide upon a line of action' as regnrds control and the -future of the industry. Hauliers must know whether the, policy is to be one of action'or appeasement z one oi continued restriction and tight controlor a.-return to freedom and equity. They should be' given definite assurances that no secret agreements will be entered. into, andthat they will not be confronted with arrangements which already have become tin fait accompli before they are made known to the rank and file. Whilst other organizations, and industries have set plans, road-haulage interests cry in the wilderness. The issue of post-war stabis is nacre important to 'road transport than to almost any other industry, because of the vitalplace which it occupies in the .national transport system. ENiery phase of post-war reconstruction is bound up. with transport from which it cannot be separated. The subject, therefore, 'of war-time `control and its continuance as an integral part of post-war planning is one of serious .concern.

It is vital that posterity shall not be bound by those chains of State. control which have had to be tolerated during the war period. The citizens of this country have given up much in the determination to defeat their enemies. They have permitted controls to dictate their mode of life. Innumerable small men have been crushed out of business, and the right to buy and sell has been taken away.

As a war-time necessity, admittedly, the State has the right to direct and control the lives of citizens. This is in the national interest. In normal times, however, the right to choose a Means for livelihood rests not with the State but with the individual History proves it was not State control which made this country strong and prosperous; it was the courage and enterprise of the individual. Nor will State control solve the grase post-war problems. Once again resourcefulness, initiative and individual enterprise will and must win the day. Ipetaiis of its policy were issued by A.R.O. last Monday and a resume' is included in this issue.—En.1

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