Road Transport Topics
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By Our Special Parliamentary Correspondent
RATE-CUTTING CALLED" COMPETITIVE ANARCHY.
AFTER a long discussion, the House of Commons gave a second reading to the Railways Agreements Bill without a division. The Opposition criticized the measure, contending that instead of the State giving the railways a guarantee of £26,000,000 the whole system should be nationalized. It Was recognized, however, that employment would be provided by the expenditure of the money, and therefore the second reading was not challenged.
Mr. Walkden, secretary of the Railway Clerks' Association, advocated a thorough reconstruction of the railways and a reduction of their Capital in proportion to the decline in their business. Unification of the four companies, he said, was not enough. Railway business must be co-ordinated with that of road and water transport. The rates which were fixed on a fair basis, were being ripped up by road transport, which was uncontrolled, and caused ruination to the freight side of the railway business. The ruinous competition could only be described as competitive anarchy.
Every new invention, he continued, should be utilized to the full advantage of the community, but there would be general ruination unless they had a single control over railways, road hauliers, inland-navigation companies and coastal steamboat companies.
Under the present conditions, the trader did not know at what rate he could get his goods carried. The railways and the various road hauliers undercut one another until the rates were reduced to below an economic basis, Ile commended the results of the creation of the London Passenger Transport Board, particularly from the Labour point of view.
CO-ORDINATION AN ACCOMPLISHED FACT.
IN reply, Mr. W. S. Morrison, Secretary I to the Treasury, said the impression had been given that no attempt had been made to co-ordinate transport. That was not so. The late Government took power in the Road and Rail Traffic Act to co-ordinate road traffic, and that work in its earlier stages was an accomplished fact. The system was the beginning of co-ordination between road and rail, and they looked forward, in the future working of this provision, to the co-ordination, to which Mr. Walkden referred, becoming a feature of the transport system of this country. It was natural that complaints should be received from both sides in the early stages, the railways claiming that too much was being done tor the road, and the road people believing that all the assistance was going to the railways.
This agreement had been described as a subsidy by the State to the railway companies, but it was only credit, and ithout it the proposed works would not be done and the railway companies would not expend the money at all. The Government was trying to find, works of a character which would help employment without injuring the public credit, and this agreement was the result. The Bill, on being read a second time, passed through Committee without amendment, and was afterwards read a third time without a division.
COST OF MOTOR DRIVERS' TESTS.
THE expenditure for the purpose of motor-drivers' tests, which is expected to be covered by fees, has amounted, to date, to approximately £49,000.
OIL-ENGINE EXHAUST GASES HARMLESS.
IN view of the fact that the L.P.T.B. Iwas proposing to equip all its motor vehicles with oil engines, Mr. Crowther asked the Minister of Transport what steps were being taken to protect the public against contamination of the atmosphere by the exhaust gases of these vehicles_ Mr. Hore-Belisha said he was aware of no sufficient evidence to show that these exhaust gases were damaging public health.
SUGGESTED REVIEW OF LICENSING SYSTEM.
UPON the suggestion that a Departmental Committee should be appointed to inquire into the working of the licensing system of the Acts of 1930 and 1934, and to recommend such changes as were necessary, Mr. }loreBelisha observed that the legislation which established the licensing system for goods vehicles also set up the Transport Advisory Council, on which all forms of transport were represented, with the duty of keeping these matters under review.
INSPECTION OF GOODS-VEHICLE CABS UNNECESSARY.
Minister was asked by Mr. Leonard whether inspectors, applying the regulations covering heavy vehicles, were required to exa.mine drivers' cabs with regard to ventilaticnt and adequacy of space. Captain Hudson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry, said that, as regards publicservice vehicles, the answer was in the affirmative, because those vehicles must comply with regulations containing provisions on the points referred to. There was no such provision in regard to goods vehicles, and hitherto no representations had been received to the effect that they were necessary.
ROAD SURFACES AND ACCIDENTS.
Pr 1E question of uniformity of road 1 surfaces and accidents caused by faulty conditions was raised by Commander Locker-Latnpson. Captain Hudson said he was not aware of any increase in accidents due to this cause. Improvements in road surfaces were constantly being effected.
The attention of highway authorities had been drawn to the fact that accidents from skidding were sometimes attributed to a sudden and unexpected change in the character of adjacent surfacing materials, and, where roads traversed the areas of several authorities, they were urged to make every effort towards uniformity of practice.
NO GRANT FOR PROPOSED EVERTON TUNNEL.
IT is officially stated that on the information at present before them as to the volume of traffic likely, to use the proposed Everton tunnel, the Government did not feel justified in approving, for the purpose of s grant from the Road Fund, the heavy expenditure which the scheme would involve, but the Minister of Transport will consider any further information which new conditions may make available.
BY-PASSES FOR HULL-LEEDS ROAD.
THE main road from Hull to Leeds having been alleged to be in a dangerous state at Howden, the Minister of Transport stated that East Riding County Council proposed to construct a by-pass at this point. With regard to conditions at Selby, the county councils of the East Riding and the West Riding had now under consideration a report which dealt with a number of alternative proposals for constructing a by-pass at Selby, and a new bridge over the River Ouse. So SOOEL as the councils submitted a scheme, it would have his immediate attention.
ELEPHANT AND CASTLE SCHEME.
rr HE proposed scheme of traffic I improvements at the Elephant and Castle, London, was abandoned by the L.C.C. in agreement with the late Minister of Transport, but the present Minister states that he is prepared to review the scheme again.