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20th January 1939
Page 39
Page 39, 20th January 1939 — WEIGH UP THE POSITION
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The problem of transport is one affecting the whole trade and commerce of the country,. Industry needs adequate transport facilities, whether by road, rail, canal or coastwise shipping, and the transport system of the country must be so moulded as to serve the best interests of industry and of the community.

It, however, Parliament agrees to remove the present railway-rates control, road 'transport demands, under the same plea of equality and fair competition as that put forward by the railways, the removal of licensing restrictions and of the right of the railways to object to the granting of licences to road transport.

Progress by Liaison Committee.

It will be remembered that in 1938 a Liaison Committee on Road Transport Rates, consisting of representatives of all national road-transport organizations, was established, and it has made considerable progress with its work. Already general standard conditions of carriage, and special conditions relating to dangerous goods, explosives, livestock and furniture are under consideration by the Area Rates Committees.

It is too soon to envisage the results Of the conversations between the Liaison Committee and the railway general managers, but with goodwill on both sides and the interests of trade and commerce safeguarded, a satisfactory solution can surely be anticFated at not too distant a date.

The question of wages is " well in the picture," in that steady progress is being made in setting up -the Central Wages Board and the Area Wages Boards to carry out the provisions of the Road Haulage Wages Act, 1938, If I, as a member of the old National Joint Conciliation Board, were to venture to give advice to the new Wages BoardS it would he to suggest that they adopt the policy of festina feats.

The Problem of Car Trailers.

A problem still facing the industry is the increased tendency to employ trailers behind private cars for purposes previously fulfilled by commercial motor vehicles. It is encouraging to know that the Minister, in response to representations made • by the 'C.M.U.A., and other organizations, urging him to bring the use of such cars and trailers within the provisions of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933, . particularly in relation to mechanical &tries's, speeds and weights, hours, and the keeping of drivers' records; has asked the Transport Advisory Council to examine the position and to consider 'whether it be desirable to amend in any respect the present law.

It is well known that under the provisions of the draft " plating " regu lations it will be illegal to load a vehicle beyond the maximum laden weight which' its manufacturers consider to be safe, and maximum-ladenweight plates will be required on all goods-carrying "vehicles. The C.M.U.A. feels that this problem of overloading can be approached from another angle and it has informed the Minister that it cannot accept the plating principle unless it be accompanied by an increase to 30 m.p.h. in the speed limit for heavy motorcars, an increase to 9 tons in the maximum axle-weight and an amendment in the maximum width sufficient to fit the correct tyres to carry a 9-ton axle-weight.

IS it too much to expect that the Minister will, during the present year, put the necessary planning machinery into motion to give effect to the following resolution of the C.M.U.A.:— " The National Council of the C.M.U.A. unanimously supports a bold and vigorous policy of development of existing highways coupled with the construction of special motor roads, and urges that one, or, perhaps, two, special motor roads should be planned at once with a view to early construction. The nation needs, as a national asset, such motor roads to augment the present trunk roads as far as possible."

Passenger Transport Not Neglected.

Whilst the major matters affecting road transport during the past year have been concerned with the goods side of the industry, the has persistently continued its policy to secure alleviation of difficulties on the passenger side.

Although security of tenure has been secured by road-service licences now being valid for three years, there exists the anomaly in Section 72 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, whereby the Traffic Commissioners are required tocoordinate all forms of passenger transport hut are given power over only one form—the road—leaving the railways free to compete on any terms either as to cheap fares or frequent operation.

There were successful representations against the proposals of the Minister to secure publication of the traffic and financial returns rendered by

operators. Such a course was considered -undesirable and unnecessary, and the opinion expressed that the action would be ultra vires, Rates for private-party work came under review, but without voluntary agreement of operators or the practical assistance (without legislation) of Traffic Commissioners on rates. only— there has not been found a suitable 'formula or basis that could, with equity, be adopted.

Stabilization, or co-ordinated development,' will it is hoped, reach further stage during 1939. New pawnger services are required by the public,

extensions of existing services are necessary to meet the requirements, and such provision of reasonable services should be authorized, notwithstanding the impossible onus now put upon operators to prove that need_ Control of Cars and Taxis.

A further glimpse into the future will surely show that adequate enforced control will be -secured . over eightseater cars and taxis carrying passengers for hire or .reward and that these and all other passenger-carrying vehicles, other than private cars, will come under the purview of one authority—the Traffic Commissioners.

Certain vehicles to which reference has been made come under an Act passed in 1847. Whilst the regulations governing the construction of a public service vehicle are not so antiquated, there should be reasonable appreciation of the necessity of permitting alterations to meet the public need and requirements by increasing to 30 ft. the permitted length of single-deckers.

Given continued freedom " there should be expansion of business in the passenger side of the industry by an increase in the employees granted holidays with pay. It is essential, however, for the Government soon to tackle the problem of spreading. general holidays over a longer period.

In support of its national road transport policy, the C.M.U.A. will continue:—(a) To keep in constant touch with the Government Departments concerned with road transport interests and to work in securing a greater measure of support in Parliament, particularly through the Parliamentary Road Group.

Call for Unified Action.

(b) To keep as close a liaison as the

best interests of the road transport demands with other organizations in the industry, with .those representing allied industries, and with Chambers of Commerce and Chambers of Trade, with a view to achieving unification of action in relation to matters affecting road transport.

(c) To collaborate towards a trans port system conditioned by public interest, subject to satisfactory safeguards. As a step towards this, the restrictions that the goods licensing system places on fresh enterprise and extension of existing businesses need to he relieved, and amendments made to existing legislation.

(d) To press for a modification in the incidence of commercial motor taxation. It has adopted the principle that the whole of the proceeds of motor vehicle taxation and fuel duties must be allocated for road construction, _improvement and .. maintenance, and that commercial motor taxation must be limited to its, just proportion. .

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