DOUBLE LICENSING UNDER NEW RULES.
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THE PRACTICE of double licensing is one that has been known to many owners of steam tractors in the past. At the same time, the possibilities of the system have escaped notice in some quarters., and it may, therefore, be advisable to explain briefly what is meant before considering how the possibilities may be modified by the introduction of a new scheme of taxation. Under existing regulations the motor tractor drawing a single trailer is permitted to travel at five miles an hour. The road locomotive, which is allowed to draw two or more trailers, is limited in the country to four miles an hour, and on many townroads to two miles an hour.
The road locomotive cannot, of course, be classed as a Motor tractor, because it is above the maximum weight prescribed; but the motor tractor can, if its owner so desires, be classed as a road locomotive, since it generally conforms to all the legal requirements of the latter class. It is quite possible that, when the new regulations as regards speed limits are issued, the difference of legal speeds as between the tractor and the road locomotive may be increased. The former may, perhaps, be permitted to travel at six or eight miles an hour, while the latter will probably not be allowed to travel at more than five miles an hour in any circumstances, with restriction to a lower level in some districts.
In the system of double licensing, the owner of an engine that has a right to be classified as a motor tractor has, under the old systemof taxation, licensed that engine in both ways; that is to say, as a tractor and also as a road locomotive. In the latter category, he has been liable to an annual-payment for the us d of the engine within a restricted area and small daily payments whenever it might be used outside that area.
Now the taxation of the motor tractor and of the lighter class of road locomotive is very, much more nearly identical. The tractor used for general haulage purposes pays £21 per annum. The road locomotive, weighing less than eight tons and used for
general purposes, pays £25 per annum. If the engine is used solely for haulage in connection with agriculture, the payment, if its weight exceeds five tons, is £10 per annum, whether it be classified as a tractor or as a road locomotive.
Thus, under the new scheme, it costs very little or nothing extra to obtain the privileges that accompany the system of double licensing ; always assuming that, in the event of a higher tax being paid, no objection will be raised to the employment of the vehicle in a category to which a lower tax applies. We cannot say for certain that this will be the attitude adopted by every taxation authority, but we have ascertained definitely that it is the attitude which, if its opinion is sought, the Ministry of Transport will advise local taxation authorities to adopt.
It will be 'observed that, if only agricultural produce is hauled, no extra payment will, therefore, be necessary in order to secure the right to use the engine in ways that have not hitherto been permissible without special payment. If the engine is used for general haulage, the special payment permitting greater variety of use is only £4 per annum. If the greater amount be paid, there will be nothing in future to be said against the use of a steam tractor in conjunction with two or more trailers, provided that, when so used, the speed of travel is not greater than that prescribed for a road locomotive weighing under eight tons. Tractor users and manufacturers should use g their influence to secure that road locomotives of strictly moderate weight are not limited as regards speed to the same extent as those of very great weight.
Farmers and others will find it a convenience, when easy gradients permit, or when the load to be hauled is bulky rather than heavy, to draw two loaded trailers at a somewhat lower speed than would be legal if only one were drawn. Taking the present limits, the reduction in speed is only 20 per cent. in the country, and the load hauled can be doubled, giving an increase of 60 per cent in the total useful wort that can be done in a given time.