ROAD TRANSPORT MATTERS IN PARLIAMENT.
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Roundabout Traffic and the Roads Not Now in Use. Effect of the Roundabout System. Classified Road Mileage. The Lighting Regulations.
By Our Special Parliamentary Correspondent.
ATTENTION has been called by Viscount Sandon to the temporary barriers and poles used to block the roadways abandoned as a consequence of the roundabout system where it is in operation. He wanted to know what were the intentions of the Minister of Transport in the matter.
Colonel Ashley said the only place where temporary barriers and poles were now so used was Sloane Square. The redesigning of the central area was a matter primarily for the Chelsea Metropolitan Borough Council, which, having regard to the importance of the site, had invited suggestions for different schemes.
Success of the System.
A SKED to make a .general statement on the ..Cl.working of the roundabout system in London, Colonel Ashley said that in his view, for, which he thought he could claim general support, the roundabout system, where adopted, had greatly relieved traffic congestion. The practicability of the extension of the system to other congested areas was constantly under consideration, and it was introduced from time to time at fresh places where the conditions were considered to be suitable. This policy would be continued, but he pointed out that the number of places where the system could be introduced was necessarily limited.
Mileage of Classified Roads.
THE length of Class I roads in Great Britain at the beginning of the present financial year was 25,345 miles and of Class II roads 15,794 miles. There is no record at the Ministry of Transport of the mileage of footpaths.
Railway Carriage of Fruit.
A COMPLAINT has been made on behalf of
fruit growers in the Wisbech district that the railway goods service placed them at a disadvantage compared with other districts served by other railways which had a one-day goods service to the north and to Scotland, and with Dutch and foreign importers. The Minister of Transport has brought the matter to the notice of the railway company and he now understands that, as a result of negotiations between the company and the Fruit Growers' Association at Wisbech, arrangements have been made which are satisfactory to the association.
Lighting of Number Plates.
THE legal advisers of the Ministry of Transport do not take the view of the magistrates' clerk at Wrexham that motorists are not obliged to light up their number plates. The old regulations, it is contended, are still in force and are not affected by the Lighting of Vehicles Act. I understand that the Ministry of Transport, in order to prevent further confusion, will issue regulations almost immediately dealing with the illumination of number plates and making the times for the lighting up of all lights on a vehicle identical.
Roundabout System and Accidents.
TriE Minister of Transport has been asked whether there has been any diminution in the number of accidents in places where the round about system has been introduced, but he has no information on the matter. As the Minister is a confirmed believer in the new system it would be useful to have such statistics prepared.
The Petrol Tax.
T N the discussion on the second reading of the -IFinance Bill last week Mr. Snowden described the derating proposals of the Government as taking money out of the pockets of one class of people in order to put it into the hands of others. The revenue to relieve industry was to be raised by the petrol duty, although oil was now largely taking the place of coal in industry. The fact that petrol was cheaper than a year ago was no reason why a tax should be placed upon it. The reduction in price would have been welcomed as an aid to production and trade. Probably half the petrol was
used for trade or commercial purposes. '
In many parts of the country the tax was being passed on to the consumers—those who used public omnibuses. He had a number of tickets which were receipts by the omnibus companies for a halfpenny and three halfpence extra charge in respect of the petrol tax. It showed that not only was the duty paid by the users of the vehicles, but the companies were making an extra profit on their fares. It was an unsound and unjustifia5le tax. The cooperative societies, it had been stated, would have to pay 1250,000 a year extra for the running of their vehicles.
The Chancellor's Reply.
MR. CHURCHILL in the course of his reply said he had never denied that the tax on petrol would be a heavy one. He was sorry he had to impose'a tax at all, and only a much more grievous need in another direction had led him to make the demand. He was proposing constructive policies on the morrow of the disaster of 1926.
In four poor years £80,000,000 had been taken from the revenues, and but for that he could have made his proposals without a tax on petrol. There was the broad argument as between the struggling basic industries and the buoyant motor traffic, as between the railways and the ever-expanding cost of the road system. There was also the contrast between the position of the coalfields and the ever-growing importation of foreign liquid fuel. He wished the revenue had been such as to enable him to dispense with the tax.
Forel& Taxicab Drivers.
Ov the 10,408 moiorcab drivers licensed in the Metropolitan area on May 7th, 1928, 54 were of foreign nationality.
HE suggestion having been made that a com pulsory test for the scientific measurement of sound, if found satisfactory for general adoption as a standard of noise, should be applied to all motor vehicles before being licensed, Col. Ashley said that the amount of noise depended so largely upon the manner of driving and speed that any system Of compulsory tests Would be of doubtful value.