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OPINIONS and QUERIES The Road and Rail Conference Report.

16th September 1932
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Page 58, 16th September 1932 — OPINIONS and QUERIES The Road and Rail Conference Report.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?


[3857] Sir,—Without wishing at this juncture to criticize in detail the proposals of the Salter Report, comment in regard to which is being submitted to the Minister of Transport by the Road Haulage Association, of which I have the honour to be a vice-chairman, there appear to me to be certain salient points with regard to that Conference which cannot be too clearly stated.

That the general managers of the four railway companies are suitable persons to represent a railway viewpoint, and even to commit their companies to "concessions," no one can question even if after perusing the report we may find ourselves somewhat bemused as to the manner and extent of the railway concessions alluded to in paragraph 133.

Unless, however, those on the road side of the Conference were equally entitled to represent, and if necessary to commit, all road interests concerned, the recommendations of the Conference become no more than a statement of opinion which only carries weight according to the extent to which it can be regarded as truly representative of each side.

It is well to realize, therefore, that the road representatives to the Conference cannot possibly be regarded as representing the interests of those engaged in the haulage of goods by road in anything approximating the same manner as the railway managers represent the railways, and that from the moment of the nomination of the Conference, not only did the Road Haulage Association address a strong protest to the Minister of Transport on these grounds, but the leading technical publication criticized the personnel for the same reason.

If anything is wanted to confirm this view it can surely be found in the storm of protest from every branch of the road industry in regard to the recommendations of the Conference. This does not lead one to feel that the road members of the Conference were vested with the authority, or carried the confidence of their industry in the concessions which, without a trace of doubt, they were prepared to recommend in attaching their signatures to this "unanimous " report.

Bearing in mind the individual standing of the road members of the Conference and their published opinions in the past, one is puzzled to discover any good reason for their advocating such recommendations. It is silly to suggest that the railway managers have made concessions on their side; the only concession they have made is the implied admission that certain of their published statements in the past in regard to road taxation were incorrect. Actually, there is no recommendation in the report regarding the working or regulation of railways, and therefore it cannot be claimed that there is any concession on the railway side, c8 Why, then, should these road-transport gentlemen propose to sacrifice their industry and jeopardize their personal reputation in order to achieve a " unanimous " report?

However unwillingly, one is forced to wonder what was the alternative to a unanimous report. Was pressure from any quarter brought to bear to secure this unanimity to a one-sided bargain? Did the road representatives find themselves forced to acquiesce "less worse befall "?

Surely the road-transport industry, of which the road members of the Conference claim to be representative, is entitled to a very full statement from Messrs. Edwards, Gaunt, Gosselin and Guest on these vital points, unless these gentlemen admit to representing, and being held accountable to, no one but themselves, in which case the Conference recommendations, as warranting any serious attention, must collapse like a house of cards.

J. S. NIOHOLL, Commercial Manager,

London, E.C.2. McNamara and Co. (1921), Ltd,


[3858] Sir,—Your article headed "Concerted Effort Vital" should help all members of the industry to realize that the individual efforts of various associations can do little good, and that unless all the organizations connected with road transport, both passenger and goods, get together the railways will become the masters of the whole of this country's transport.

At the beginning of this week I had the opportunity of speaking to a conference of operators who had been called together by the solicitor who acts for them, and I stated that, in my opinion, the only solution for a satisfactory settlement of the present problems was a National Conference, organized not by any existing body but by persons well known to the industry.

I enclose a copy of the letter I wrote to that solicitor after the meeting.—[We reproduce this.—En.] K. D. B. POCKLINGTON, Secretary, London, S.W.1. Roadways Federation, Ltd.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to speak to your meeting on Monday last on behalf of the Roadways Federation, and my only regret is that your clients decided to carry on on their own.

"I quite realize that by legal action you may be able to do a lot of good for your clients and the coaching industry as a whole, but that, unfortunately, will not control the Minister of Transport or the powerful railway groups, and I am more than ever convinced that the only lasting solution is the formation of some National Road Conference which will embrace every branch of the road-transport industry, where delegates would sink the identity of their own associations for the time being and simply represent so much capital and labour. You would then have a body representing millions of people and money, a far larger body than the railways could muster, and you would then have the majority of the Press with you.

" I have not given tip hope altogether that your small meetings will sow the seeds from which will spring this great National Conference."


[3859] Sir,—The article by Capt. E. H. B. Palmer, appearing in your issue for September 9th can only be described as most dangerous, tending as it does to lull certain operators into an entirely false sense of security.

I state emphatically, and in this I am not alone, that the Rail and Road Report is of quite another nature, and will have quite another and more evil effect, if legalized, than that which your correspondent predicts. The effect of licensing and control has had a most damaging effect on the passenger-vehicle operator. Control, even in any restricted form, and we have no assurance that this will be so, may well lead to the wholesale destruction of haulage businesses.

Can any thinking man with a knowledge of the transport trade do other than distrust bureaucratic interference? Can your correspondent say where this will stop once it is instigated? Does he not himself distrust bureaucracy? If not, then his views should be disregarded.

Can anyone believe that there is behind the report a single intention to help road transport? It spells the virtual extinction of the haulier, and the vast increase of the ancillary user operating machines bearing the lowest range of taxes.

The ancillary user has other profits to consider, and some extra expense on his transport will be passed on in some way.

The haulier, by licensing restrictions and the chaos in which he will quickly findhimself from this unwarrantable interference with his business, will not be able to provide the services that his clients require. am sorry that Mr. Palmer did not take my place this year in controlling one of the largest coaching businesses in London. The degree of stupidity reached in the interference in this trade by this very control was more suitable to the acts that I imagine might perhaps be possible in a lunatic asylum than to, presumed, sane men.

Control, as applied to the coaching industry, has been directed towards strangling it—inquire of the M.H.C.S.A. A. basketful of correspondence from chief constables, Traffic Commissioners, certifying officers, and Ministry of Transport circulars and what not every day Does the haulage contractor want this? If so, he will require a solicitor on the job all the time and counsel at regular intervals.

How is he going to pay for this, while, if rates are controlled, as your correspondent suggests, and they are raised above the published rail rates which has been the case in the coaching trade, his business falls away?

A jolly game, and one best played with other people's money, as do the bureaucrats. Your correspondent's ingenuous remarks seem to be those of an enemy in our midst, When thinking of control it is important not to lose sight of the fact that there has been a reduction of 13,000 vehicles in licensed hackneys since the advent of the Road Traffic Act.

My companies make regular use of haulage services, both long and short distances, and find them consistently reliable and satisfactory. The safeguards talked of as necessary to the public seem to me to be more of the sort that the railways are seeking, but not the public, who primarily want the cheap, reliable services, at present available, to continue. 'An increase in the cost of transport, more particularly at the present time, would be a disaster to trade.

This is not a matter for Governmental interference— the normal competition and development of alternative forms of trade are not a proper subject for Governmental control, otherwise, if this principle were logically extended to all similar activities, it would result in the stagnation and impoverishment of the country.

The ordinary interplay of competition, and the necessity of giving the best service to obtain one's customers, are all the safeguards that the public requires, and they have these now.

Had the report contained an indictment of the railways for their inefficient working, with a recommendation that the Railway Rates Tribunal be wiped out and the Railways Act, 1921, in so far as it affects the free working of the railways, be repealed, it could have been better understood.

It is hardly possible to send a parcel by railway without the contents being damaged—my company had a case in which a lorry brake drum was broken in half —and midday local services are barely above cycling speed.

Your correspondent's complacent attitude is not in the interests of the road or the public.

H. R. HOOD BARRE, Managing Director,

London, E.1. G. Scammell and Nephew, Ltd.


[3860] Sir,—How pleasing it is to read the various opinions of the Salter Report, including your leading article, " Outmanceuvred."

Whilst it may be true that the road-transport industry as a whole is not thoroughly organized to represent all sections of it, especially during this critical time, yet it is delightful to find and read that those interested are rousing from their slumbers in no uncertain fashion. At the right and proper time the industry will criticize, and fight in detail, the Report as published, and probably, if this Report does nothing else, it will help to build a foundation upon which all interested in road transport will join forces to maintain their rights and see justice done.

I, like many others in the road-transport industry, had the greatest faith in our representation on the Conference, but my expectations have not been realized.

Very rightly you call attention to the fact that the railways are net asked in any way to put themselves right, but, on the other hand, the road-transport industry must do all manner of things, evidently to endeavour to divert traffic back to the railways.

Mr. Gammons, I submit, is quite right when he states " that even the man in the street realizes that it is road transport that has taught the railways 'transport,' " and yet our great Conference asks nothing of the railways in the way of meeting "what the public wants." The Report as constituted is, in my opinion, nothing more or less than railway policy designed to defeat road transport, and the public is expected to accept it.

If the House of Commons passes legislation on the lines contained in this Report it will do our country a great injustice by creating once more "railway monopoly," and at the same time stagnating the fourth largest industry in the country. Science has brought forth a great invention, and we are asked by the Report to accept legislation, which is designed to kill modern science as applied to the internal-combustion engine.

You will recollect that previous to the election of this Conference railway propaganda definitely called attention to the fact that they were handicapped by legislation, as against the road haulier, because by law they were compelled to accept all and every kind of traffic, whereas the road haulier was not similarly placed, but could either accept or refuse. I see nothing in the Report to suggest this aspect of the railway case being dealt with. Why is not the public informed of this change of tactics? It is known that the road repre sentatives were ready to help the railways to remove all legislation which handicapped them in competition with road transport. When this matter ,was put before the railway representatives, what happened?

It was stated that the railway companies did not wish to interfere with the legislation already in existence, but, on the other hand, they pressed for additional legislation against road transport.

It is obvious the sole purpose of the Report is to stifle a growing industry, and, what is more, an industry that is essential to the well-being of the country as a whole. It is not co-ordination that is sought, but elimination. It passes my comprehension how the Report could be accepted by the road representatives, and it will be interesting to know the real facts that influenced their deliberations.

I entirely agree with your editorial that all associations representing road interests should band together to resist the effects of the Report. I know there are differences between them, but, nevertheless, these can be adjusted within the industry. The main thing is to fight for the complete elimination of the Report, and this is possible, because Clause 133 states that if one part of the Report be rejected the remainder would be endangered and the Conference would not be unanimous. I maintain that the absent interests—the road hauliers—have been prejudiced.

I observe that one of the railway weekly papers has suggested in its leading article that nothing but abuse has so far been published, and in this connection I would remind the road interests that the railways are clever tacticians, and at the moment the time is not opportune for showing the arguments which will subsequently be put forward in support of the road case.

I can assure our railway friends that the Report can, and will, be logically and reasonably dealt with at the proper time.

Manchester. S. ROYLE, Chairman, Ex-Army Transport, Ltd.


[3861] Sir,—A point in the recommended new scales of lic,ence duty which I have not yet seen stressed is that which deals with a rebate of 25 per cent, on vehicles exceeding 4 tens unladen weight exclusively employed within an immediate port area.

Since the bulk of railway-owned motor vehicles is employed exclusively in terminal, short-haul delivery work, and many terminals, from the nature of things, are situated in docks and ports Ito be defined by the Minister of Transport), and further as probably no railway-owned vehicles are employed in hauls of even moderate length, this would appear a very handy way of avoiding those additional licence duties which they are so keen on putting on privately owned transport.

Linton. G. W. Igwin, Linton Haulage Company.


[3862] Sir,—In view of your brilliant articles, the article by Capt. E. H. B. Palmer, 0.B.E., seems to me rather unfortunate, and I fear it will be used as evidence against us. Whilst admiring your kindness in allowing us "free speech," I would suggest that this article is hardily conducive to concerted effort.

I fear that he commences his observations from the wrong angle, i.e., in assuming that the Report is in the interests of the road instead of the railways. Naturally, as he says, the Conference was "fraught with difficulties," but how could it be otherwise? In view of the terms of reference and the composition of the Conference, a satisfactory solution was no more possible than it would be if the Government appointed the brewers and mineral water manufacturers to decide -national requirements in the way of beverages. The task was an impossible one, hence the "impossible" Report.

B34 In view of the questionaire from various road interests as to why "this and that" was not recommended, when these things would so obviously have been in the direct interests of road transport, it iS evidently .forgotten that, however little camouflage was used in painting the terms of reference, the ultimate picture was to be "road transport on the railway altar in readiness for the Ministry torch "; hence the result.

The Salter Conference was appointed for the express purpose of satisfying railway demands, and it achieved its purpose. That is that, and as it is contrary to the public interest, it must be rejected whole-heartedly. Apart from their black record of road persecution, it is inconceivable that the railways would, even if they could, legislate in the interests of road transport.

One has constantly to bear in mind that the objective is to kill, not to keep, and having effectively disposed of, say, 25 per cent, by taxation, the railways would then only have an army of 75 per cent, to conquer, and the bulk of this would be disposed of by licensing and regulation, division of function, routeing, published rates, proved necessity, etc., even more effectively than by taxation. Remember, if it were not so the railways could not possibly get road transport sufficiently crippled.

It is even suggested that the Ministry should allocate the traffic to roads, and in my opinion that would mean such traffic which the railways could not handle, viz., nil. Some of the large fleet owners say, "We are sure to get our licences, etc." I say they are the very people who will not ; obviously it is the big fry with the bulk traffic which the railways are after.

With all deference to Capt. Palmer, it is beyond my coMprehension how anyone can be hoodwinked into imagining that railway companies would agree to anything for the ultimate good of road transport, for apart from the anomaly, we have abundant evidence of deliberately concealed plots for at least 10 years past.

The adoption of the Salter Report would put " paid " to goods road transport in a very short time, and posterity would blame road representation—not railway intrigue.

WALTER GAMMONS, Managing Director. For Walter Gammons, Limited.

London, E.C.1.

Pioneering the Oil Engine.


138631 Sir,—May I be allowed to express my thanks and appreciation for the firm way in which you have dealt with what appears to amount to indirect abuse of authority, by Government officials, En your leading article in a recent issue of The Commercial Motor.

I am writing as one of the pioneers of the oil engine in this country, and have always appreciated your very valuable help in this uphill and thankless task. If such acts as that referred to are allowed to pass unchecked, we in this country will soon be losing the good name we have always had for clean and straight dealings.

With regard to our pioneering efforts, I think that we can both feel gratified with the results which are now frequently appearing in your valuable journal —one in your issue dated August 16th refers to 26 oil engines for one firm; quite recently there was a notice that the L.M.S. Railway had ordered 139 oil engines, another that two of my clients in the north have each ordered 19 engines, and so on.

It is interestihg now to recall that only about four years ago, more than once I was told that I was " crazy " and that I was wasting my time with such things as oil' engines for road transport. I will admit that at times it was enough to break a man's heart, but I never at any moment doubted that it would come—and it certainly has. W. H. GODDARD. Leeds.