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That "Fair Squeal" for a "Square Deal"

16th December 1938
Page 45
Page 45, 16th December 1938 — That "Fair Squeal" for a "Square Deal"
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

"Even the Eskimo, Brooding In His icy Solitude, Can Hardly Have Escaped the Heart-rending Plea"

THE pious hope that the rail ways might be moved to cease their persistent " sniping'' in the Traffic Courts, expressed in the article "No Desire What-so-ever to Interfere," published in The Commercial Motor dated December 2, was written before the advent of the current screech from the permanent way. Since then even the Eskimo, brooding in his icy solitude, can hardly have escaped the heartrending plea of the railways for a square deal (sic).

On reading this soul-searing manifesto, the first impression one has is Of relief that there is not an ad valorem tax on fiction. Then, indeed, would the coffers of the Railway Companies' Association be depleted. It might be instructive to analyse the various points seriatim in this jewel of inexactitude.

" Much is being said about the poor financial position of the railway industry." Agreed, and it is being said mostly by disgruntled shareholders, but how much of it is printable?

"."'. . • the railways are bound by statutory controls and regulations which have lasted 100 years and grown more rigid with age." This pointer, of course, .explains fully why the railways . have sought to pull down into the pit with them a younger and more virile form of transport.

The third pOinter is a raucous and rather pompous blast on their own trumpet : "Moreover, no other form of transport has, or can have, such basic duties and responsibilities to the State as those which the railways must bear at all times and, more especially, in times of national el-riffgency." If there be any heretic still in doubt of the railways' divine right to administer the transport of the country, let him receive the further proof of the railway infalli bility as provided by the epic of "The Burnt Signal Box," or "Tumult at the Terminus." (Paddington Press.)

If there be any "Responsibility to the State and basic duties" which, given the good roads it pays for, road transport is incapable of performing at least as well, if not better, than the railways, it would be interesting to hear about them.

Now we approach the most scintillating facet in the whole of this dubious jewel. "The railways have no desire whatsoever to interfere with other transport services or with any other business"

This brazen statement would look well, in 10-in, letters, over the main entrance to every Traffic Court in the country. It would raise many a bitter laugh, also, in some of those distressed South Wales ports which were prosperous under their several competing managements until taken over, in 1921, as part of the amalgamation.

Truth in Advertising!

All the railways want, we are assured pitifully, is a chance to put themselves right, so that they may be able to meet fair competition in a fair way. This seems to imply what is right, namely, that under the present alleged disabilities, they are unable to meet competition in a fair way.

Now, comes a touch of petulance. "The time-honoured shackles which fetter the railways alone . . must go." Here the operative word is "alone." If penal taxation, a mass of restriction, and the institution of tribunals, all of which beset road transport, be not shackles (even if not time-honoured) then we have all been labouring under a sense of false repression.

At last we come to a point, in the moving manifesto, with which the road-transport man will heartily

agree A short Act of Parliament is required, this Session, to meet a crying national need."

Terms Not Mentioned.

It seems clear, from this, that a perceptible remorse creeps into the announcement. The terms of the Act are not stated, hut, obviously, aghast at the preceding inexactitudes, the Railway Companies' Association seeks to make amends and has left the advocacy of such proposals to someone else. Surely no other short Act would so justly remedy wrongs, than one which provided for (a) automatic renewal,for all time of A and B licences ; (b) 50 per cent.

reduction in all commercial-vehicle taxes ; (c) complete withdrawal of the railways from all Traffic Courts ; (d) prohibition of all financial operations and interests in road-transport companies by the railways.

Having cleared this up, we must now proceed with our charity to work for the fulfilment of the railways' demands. But before doing so, it is only equitable that they consent to answer a short questionnaire on the subject.

1. What became of the "basic duties and responsibilities to 'the State" in 1926? Write a short essay on " The Drawbacks of Unified Control as Applied to Public Service irk Times at

Labour Trouble." .

2. A has a business which is badly managed. B has a business which is well managed_ A secures a large number of shares in B's well-managed business and draws anything from 10'per cent to 12 per cent. on his investment. Question: How would you explain this away to your hard-hit shareholders if you were A?

3. Disregarding those of your shareholders who are dear old ladies in Bournemouth and such like (this should not be difficult) write, in not more than 100 words, an explanation of your present difficulties likely to satisfy (a) A non-associated roadtransport chief; (b) a Member of Parliament; (c) the Marines.

4. A sailor was travelling on a country branch line. When, at length, the train reached the ,junction, he remarked: " Ah! the worst part of my journey over!" Was he going (a) to China; (b) to Malta; (c) hysterical?

5. When did your chairman last give lunch to: (a) a Traffic Commissioner; (b) a Minister of Transport; (c) a lorry-driver's mate?

6. If A had an income equivalent to 5 per cent, of the annual expenditure on licence objections, would you advise him to spend the money on (a) football pools, or (b) railway shares?

7. Write a short essay on "C• Licences and How to Lay for 'Em.' To subdue this pest, state briefly the respective .advantages of an M.P. and an appeal for a square deal.

"The Lay Press is Biased in Favour of Road Transport." Correct this statement by removing one word and replacing it with another.

The problem of whether to include in this suggested questionnaire : " How do you arrive at an agreed charge?" is a weighty one. Since it embraces a complicated course of applied mathematics, however, and would mean paying for a tutor to give lessons in the art of buttonholing, as practised in the Traffic Courts, it has been decided to delete

the question. J.D.P.


Organisations: Public Service, Traffic Court

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