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20th March 1942, Page 31
20th March 1942
Page 31
Page 31, 20th March 1942 — Do You Know the Answers?
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Our Versatile Contributor Puts Forward Some Pertinent Queries Concerning the Functions of the Road Haulage (Operations) Advisory Committee and the Catering for Long-distance Drivers

SOME days ago I was asked certain questions regarding the Road Haulage (Operations) Advisory Committee and its functions, amongst which were the following:— ,

(1) What are the subjects upon which it furnishes advice to the M. of W.T.?

(2) Is it confined solely to matters relating to the Government Road Haulage Scheme; or do its activities cover a wider sphere embracing all matters of major importance concerning the industry?

After some deliberation, I had to admit that I could not supply the answers. I did not know.

My questioner was a person who iS connected intimately with ;road transport. He is knowledgeable, but knows little of the working of the R.H.A.C., and he made it quite clear that his perplexities reflect those

of many members of the industry. .

It would appear, therefore, that whilst the reasons for the establishment of the Committee. are common knowledge, there is , a remarkable lack of information. regarding its functions and activities. From time to time statements are issued—all of them in., connection with the Road Haulage Schente—which leave the foregoing questions untouched and unanswered.

Although the. Committee was appointed by the Minister, the constituent members, nevertheless, do represent the industry and they—being drawn from representative bodies—cannot escape consequential responsibilities. Is it not, therefore, incumbent upon them to issue a report or make some statement from time to time regarding the matters being dealt with and the results achieved? .

Same Men on Too Many Committees There is a general tendency on the part of committees in all spheres to develop, sooner or later, an apathetic and nonchalant mentality. The burning zeal• and enthusiasm which characterize the efforts in the initial stages ultimately become a smouldering fire, the embers of which need rekindling at a later date. One remarkable feature regarding the committees which have been appointed to deal with road-transport problems is that they comprise, with few exceptions, the same individuals. Logically this is unsound, for it tends to develop a parochial outlook: vision and keenness become dimmed and so a diminished degree of effectiveness ensues.

Is it not time, then, that the younger men in the industry were given a chance to come forward with their new ideas and suggestions? That this is a young man's war has been emphasized repeatedly. Russia quickly learnt this lesson, the principle of which she has applied with results known throughout the world. The recent statement made by the War Minister regarding officers of 45 years of age indicates that he, too; realizes the vital need. It would seem that similar recognition in other Government Departments might prove beneficial. I am by no means suggesting that a man of 45 and over is too old for useful service and—as the old adage has it" there's many a good tune played on art old fiddle." But if the former cannot play a good tune, youth should be given its chance not only to play well, but —what is even more important—to provide new tunes. It is to be hoped that the R.H.A.C. has not become numbed by environment and imbued with the slow and " safety-first''. policy so closely associated with some Government Departments. The need to-day is for a bold and courageous lead and determined action.

Let us examine some vitally important matters affecting the industry. Take the question of the feeding facilities and accommodation for drivers or,, rather, the lack of them. In an excellent, recent. leader of " The Commercial Motor "—which maintains its, deservedly high tradition as the champion of worthy causes— the conditions were described 'as "scandalous and unhealthy " ; words, in fact, barely strong enough. Representations have been made at intervals by various bodies, including trades unions, but, apparently, without any major effect. Now who is responsible for permitting such a state of affairs to continue? As the Government Department responsible for transport, the M. of W.T. cannot altogether escape liability.

Treat Haulage Drivers as Key Men Since the launching of the Road Haulage Scheme, no .expense or effort has been spared in an attempt to ensure success. Regular. advertisements appeared in the Press and, all over the country, speakers have addressed meetings in order to gain support. Apparently, however, no thdught whatever was bestowed upon the drivers, who —after all—are the key-men in the scheme. This, surely, is a method akin to that of appealing for recruits and then sending them to fight minus the necessary equipment. Three questions should be answered in this connection : (1) Has the M. of W.T. taken the necessary steps to provide adequate and satisfactory feeding facilities

and accom. modation for drivers? If this has been done, why do the present conditions exist?

(2) Has the R.H.A.C, given the matter serious consideration and submitted recommendations to the M. of W.T. '1 (3) Have any such recommendations been accepted„...rejected or shelved?

These issues should not be side-tracked : indeed, an official statement should be forthcoming without delay.

As pointed out in the editorial already referred to, prac tically every class of worker is well .catered for so far as food arrangements are concerned. The British Restaurants, in particular, are a blessing to thousands of people, and a special tribute must be paid to Lord Woolton for providing such facilities. Why cannot similar provision be made for drivers?

Frequently are we told that this is a total war ; but too little is said regarding total organization, of which this particular instance should be an example. venture to assert that if the proposed Drivers' Association had been established there would have been no necessity to stimulate action through the medium of the Press. There can be little doubt that the drivers themselves would have demanded speedy and effective action.

If desired, I would willingly submit proposals to the M. of W.T.—through the medium of "The Commercial .Motor "—setting out a scheme for dealing with this matter.

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