Road Transport Activities
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By Our Special Parliamentary Correspondent
Imports of Petroleum.
MR. HALL CAINE inquired as to what steps were being taken to ensure that, following the embargo on imports from Russia into this country, no petroleum would be imported from other countries unless it was satisfactorily proved that it was not either in part or in whole of Soviet origin. Mr. Hore-Belisha, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said that importers of petroleum fr;om countries other than Russia were required to furnish on the relative customs entry a declaration showing that the goods were outside the scope of the prohibition on imports from Russia, and, in addition, petroleum imported from European and certain Asiatic countries must be accompanied in each ease by consular certificates of origin.
Mr. Pike asked whether the Financial Seeretary was aware that the Russian Oil Products, Ltd.. was circularizing local authorities that it could continue to fulfil its contracts and that. supplies during the past six months had been coming through Texas.
Road Accidents Investigation.
MR. STANLEY, when asked when the investigation by the Ministry of Transport into the causes and circumstances of fatal road accidents would be completed, said he was considering the desirability of issuing a preliminary analysis of all fatal accidents occurring up to the end Qf June.
T"question of the possibility of proceeding with the Dartford-Purfleet tunnel scheme in the near future having been raised, Mr. Stanley said that in present circumstances he understood the local authorities concerned were not prepared to proceed with this costly scheme, and he would not, in any event, be in a position to provide the financial assistance originally contemplated. Measures were, however, being taken to safeguard the line of the tunnel and its approaches.
Bridges at Sutton Gault.
TilE Minister of Transport having had his attention called by Mr. de Rothschild to the fact that the bridges at Sutton Gault, near Ely, were unsafe for weights of over three tons, was asked whether, as the occupiers of land in the district were prevented, from using horsed wagons, motor vehicles or any heavier form of transport, a grant would be made. to the county council to enable it to rebuild these bridges. Mn; Stanley said tnat he was advised that the bridges referred to were owned by the Ouse Drainage Board. Proposals for reconstruction would require the concurrence of the board. Compensation for Accidents.
LORD DANESFORT'S Bill to enable persons injured on the road by a motel' vehicle (other than motorists themselves) to recovercompensation in certain cases without proof of negligence on the part of the owner or driver or user of the motor vehicle, is now being considered by a Select Committee of the House of Lords. Sir H. Piggott, of the Ministry of Transport, has given evidence in which he said that only in Belgium and Spain was the practice the same as in Great Britain, namely, that the injured party had to prove negligence by the driver.
In other conntries in Europe the onus was placed on the driver to prove that the accident was not due to his negligence or that of the injured person or a. third party. In the United States, for the purpose of compensation the injured party had to prove negligence.
Sir Stenson Cooke, of the Automobile. Association, stated that the A.A. was opposed to the Bill. He mentioned that there was little or no evidence to show that any grave injustice to the poor person had arisen by inability to prosecute. He did not believe that there was great public sympathy with the Bill.
Further Important Evidence.
THE Select Committee on the Road Traffic (Compensation for Accidents) Bill has heard further evidence given by representatives of the R.A.C„ the L.G.O.Clo„ Ltd., the British Road Federation, and the Omnibus Owners' Association. One criticism made by Mr. Evans, solicitor, head of the legal department of the R.A.C., was that if the Bill were to become law it might tend to diminish care and attention on the part of pedestrians and cyclists.
Mr. S. Newman, claims agent of the L.G.O.Co., Ltd., declared that the impression that buses and-passenver transport vehicles generally were a'devastating source of danger to pedestrians and other vehicles was unjustified and not supported by figures. Mr. Herbert, of the Omnibus Owners' Association, gave evidence showing that the number of accidents by public-service vehicles had diminished in a most remarkable manner in proportion to the number of miles run. The committee has paid a great deal of attention, in the course of its inquiry, to the question of how to prevent accidents. The general opinion of witnesses was to the effect that this could be effected only by the application of control-to pedestrians and cyclists. Traffic Bill in Committee.
T" Standing Committee of the House of Commons on Wednesday began consideration of the Road and Rail Bill. The main discussion on the opening day took place on the snla-section of Clause I, which relates to C
licences. Sit John Sandeman Allen moved the omission of the sub-section, which, he said, was disturbing traders, as it applied to a large proportion of goods vehicles. The proposal in the Bill raised a serious question for traders, and one of the most important matters which the Committee would have to decide was how far traders were to be drawn into the maelstrom of -this new licensing system.
The amendment found support from other members, including Sir G. lieutoul, who pointed out that the C Iieences would apply to about 275,000 out of a total of 375,000 goods vehicles
in the country. The system, he said, would impose a aubstantial -burden and would lead to hindrance of the development of trade and industry, and involve
an additional Government staff. No practical purpose would be served, and an imposition of an altogether unreasonable kind might be instituted.
Minister Opposes Amendment.
14-R. STANLEY, the Minister of itl_Transport, resisted the amendment. He denied that the provision would impose anything like a burden. All that the'applicant for a -C licence had to do was to apply every three years and to state the number and type of the vehicles he proposed to use. That could not be called an intolerable ;burden. The extra cost would be only a few shillings a year. Nobody could argue that the conditions attached to the licence were intolerable. They were already in existing law, and nobody who observed the law would be at any dis
advantage. Experience had, however, sh.own that existing provisions were not sufficient to enforce the conditions. Tim amendment was negatived.
In the course of the discussion, Mr. Stanley made it clear that, where railways delivered goods by road and Made no charge within what Was known as the free-delivery areas, that would be held to include the element of " hire or reward," and would necessitate duo taking out of an A licence to cover the service.
[A strong article dealing with the Road and Rail Truffle Bill appears on the first page of this issue.—En.1
THE Minister of Transport has informed Mi. Anstruther Gray that the Departmental Committee on Traffic. Signals hopes to complete its report before the end of this month.