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ROAD TRANSPORT MATTERS IN PARLIAMENT.

18th May 1926, Page 8
18th May 1926
Page 8
Page 8, 18th May 1926 — ROAD TRANSPORT MATTERS IN PARLIAMENT.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Our Motor Exports to the Dominions. Over 800 Applications for Grants for Rural Roads. Road Fund Balances. Signal Devices for Blind Vehicles. No Two-Seater Cabs Yet,

By Our Special Parliamentary Correspondent.

AGOOD many members of Parliament are anxious to know the reasons why our exports of motor vehicles to the Dominions and Colonies are but a fraction compared with the United States exports to the same markets. In debate favourite theories are advanced, but it cannot be expected that the non-expert member of Parliament should have a complete or comprehensive grasp of all the factors which render our . present share of the Colonial market so meagre.

In the debate on the development of Empire trade on April 29th, Dr. Watts stated that the British manufacturer was at fault because he had been told by buyers that although representatives of British firms went to the Dominions year by year and the people there recognized the value of the British workmanship ill our cars, unfortunately we did not supply them with cars adapted to their roads. English representatives showed their models and adopted the "take it or leave it" attitude. In many cases the overseas buyer did leave it. He believed that if our manufacturers adapted the article to particular requirements overseas there would be a largely increased demand.

Dr. Haden Guest, a Labour member, followed up the point made by Sir Robert Horne in the Budget discussions and criticised the Government for not assisting this branch of export trade. He regarded the trade as being penalized by placing the duty on horse-power and encouraging thereby types of vehicles unsuitable for the Empire market. If the tax were put on petrol, the British motor trade might be able to compete on the same terms as the Americans.

Mr. A. M. Samuel, Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department, told the House that this matter had been looked into very thoroughly shortly after the Government took office, and he disagreed with the contention of Sir Robert Horne and Dr. Guest. He himself had put the whole question of the export or British motor vehicles to the Dominions and the Colonies before representatives of the motor trade, and he had come to the coaclusion that there was nothing in the idea mentioned by Dr. Guest.

The export of British motor vehicles to the Dominions, particularly Australia and New Zealand, showed a Very wholesome and satisfactory rise. The fact of the matter was that during the war our motor people had not the chance of getting into those markets and the American vehicles crept in. Now we were getting back into those markets, but we were so busy with the home trade that we had not yet reached a saturated market at home so that our output could overflow into the Colonial markets. We were, however, getting Colonial markets and the hon. member need have no fear that we would not get a full share of those markets in due course.

Dr. Guest remarked that he hoped the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary would calm the country in general, but he was sorry it did not calm him.

Grants for Rural Roads.

N°special conditions are attached to the grant of £750,000, promised last year for unclassified rural roads, beyond those set out in the Ministry of Transports circular No. 234 recently issued to local authorities, the intention being that all authorities administering areas essentially rqral in character should be eligible. Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte has suggested that the Government should do away with the present

n26 conditions and give a flat rate for all roads of this class, but Colenel Ashley has expressed his unwillingness to discuss this "rather big question" at the present moment.

Scotland's share in the new grant of 1500,000 promised by Mr. Churchill in his Budget speech is to be £100,000, which the Minister of Transport describes as a generous contribution. It may be recalled that the £750,000 grant was limited to England and Wales, as assistance on at least an equivalent scale was rendered to Scotland under other heads. Already 40 county councils and 799 district counciLs have applied for grants.

Road Fund Balances.

IT is officially stated that the cash balances and Investments of the Road Fund as at March 31st ia

each year since 1920 were as follow :— The Minister of Transport explains that the execution of many of the works in respect of which commitments exist is spread over a term of years. As this expenditure matures it will be met partly out of the accumulated balances and partly out of current revenue, which is to this extent anticipated.

Mechanical Signalling Devices.

THE lack of uniformity in automatic signalling and warning devices was referred to by Colonel Day in a request that the Minister of Transport should, by legislation, make the use of a standardized signalling device compulsory upon all blind vehicles such as tramcars, motor omnibuses, motor coaches, hooded vans and enclosed cars. Colonel Ashley reminded Colonel Day that the question of signalling devices was considered by the Departmental Committee on the Taxation and Regulation of Road Vehicles and they recommended that the signals given by drivers should be as few as possible and from a uniform position, but came to the conclusion that signals by the human hand and arm were sufficient and satisfactory. Any attempt to prescribe a form of mechanical signalling device would obviously give rise to numerous difficulties.

Parabolite Lenses.

THE subject of dazzling headlights has again cropped up in an allusion to the suitability of parabolite lenses. Colonel Ashley has had his attention directed to the tests that have been carried out upon a number of lenses, including the parabolite lens, but he does not commit himself to an opinion on the subject. He intends to seek additional legislative powers to deal with the lighting of road vehicles. The Murray signalling device was brought to the attention of the Minister by Colonel Day as a method of denoting to motorists by means .of reflected lights from their vehicles dangerous obstructions on the highway. Colonel Ashley could say nothing more than that one of the-technical officers of the Department had attended a demonstration of Murray signs, which, he presumed, were those referred to by Colonel Day.


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