Road Transport Activities
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By Our Special Parliamentary Correspondent
Petrol from British Coal.
Monday, July 17, in the House of IL/Commons, the Prime Minister made the important statement that it is proposed to give a guaranteed preference at 4d. per gallon in respect of light hydrocarbon oils (as defined in the Finance Act, 1928), manufactured in this country from indigenous coal, shale or peat. The guarantee will be for 10 years from April 1, 1934, and there are certain provisos to vary the period according to the varying difference between the Customs duty and the Excise (if any Excise be imposed). Legislation will be introduced in the autumn.
Next Wednesday a debate will take place in the House of Commons, when further explanations of the scheme will he given. Meanwhile, considerable satisfaction is expressed by all members regarding the policy of the Government In guaranteeing over a period of time a preference to British producers of light hydrocarbon oils. In effect the Government has taken 3s. as the amount of the preference covering 10 years, which is equivalent to 8d. a gallon for 41 years from April 1, 1935, or 4d. a gallon for nine years from that date. If the duty varies between these figures the appropriate adjustments will be made. The concession of the Government is the guarantee of the preference for a period of time within which it is hoped the industry will be enabled to establish itself as a commercial proposition. The concession applies to all processes, but interest centres largely upon the hydrogenation process upon which large sums of money have already been spent by Imperial Chemical Industries, Iitd., and which are to be supplemented by a further expenditure upon new plant. A published statement by the chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd., appears on p. 806.
Shenfield Residents and Coach Services.
TR. THORN enquired of the .0.111inister whether, arising out of his decision to uphold the findings of the Traffic Commissioners for the Eastern Area to fix a minimum fare of Cel. on a service of saloon coaches between Bow and Chelmsford, Brentwood and Romford, he could state whether any consideration was given to the position of the residents in the Shenfield area, who, as a consequence, had been compelled to travel either in small buses or in uncomfortable doubledeck buses, when comfortable saloon coaches could have been available.
He also asked whether the Minister could state the reason for granting short-stage facilities to the London General Omnibus Co., rtd., the London and North-Eastem Railway Co., and the Eastern National Omnibus Co., Ltd., whilst withholding them from the line in question.
Mr. Stanley said he was informed that the 6d. minimum fare in respect of the coach services operated by Messrs. Hillman on this route had not yet been brought into operation, and that the services were still running as in the past. Coach services and bus services were designed to cater for different classes of passenger traffic, and his predecessor decided on an appeal under Section 81 of the Road Traffic Act, that fares of less than 6d. should not be charged on these coach services, but that passengers wishing to travel short distances only should be carried by the bus services, which should, if necessary, be strengthened.
In reaching his decision on the appeal, his predecessor had before him the whole of the representations made to the Traffic Commissioners at their public sitting, and those made at the appeal enquiry an November 16 and 17 last.
Noise of Aircraft.
T TPON a suggestion that a corn
) nuttee should be appointed to enquire how the noise of " aerial machines" might be made less harassing and injurious to the community at large, the Under Secretary of State for Air, Sir Philip Sassoon, said the desire to limit the noise, which was a general condition of modern life, had his fullest sympathy. Much had already been done on experimental lines to reduce the noise emanating from aircraft, but the difficulty was that an effective silencer seriously curtailed the performance. This could not be accepted for fighting aircraft and would have serious reactions on the commercial operation of civil aircraft.
.ELe hoped, however, that we should eventually attain a reduction of noise without a prohibitive saerifice in other directions. With regard to the suggestion for the appointment of a committee, the Secretary of State did not consider that this would advance matters, as a Special Aircraft Noise Sub-committee of the Aeronautical Research Committee had been engaged on the .problem for some time, in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory.
Petroleum Spirit Revenue.
TE Financial Secretary to the irirreasury stated that the. approximate revenue from taxation on petroleum spirit in the financial year 1932-33 was £35,198,000. Speeding-up of Motorbuses.
riviE Minister of Transport was I asked by Mr. Lovat-Fraser if he would certify that the new timeschedules adopted by the London General Omnibus Co., Ltd., were being maintained without in any way endangering public safety; if he was aware that since the speed-up of London motorbuses three drivers had collapsed at the wheel and one died on the way to hospital; whether the death and sickness rates among bus drivers had gone up since the speed-up, and whether the number of accidents involving buses had increased..
Mr. Stanley ' said he was informed that the introduction of the full programme of new time-tables was spread over the period October, 1932, to February, 1933. Whilst there bad been a slight increase in the number of collisions in the first six months of this year compared with 1932, the figures were appreciably .better than for 1931. There appeared to be no evidence to suggest that the new time schedules had endangered safety. He was also informed that the death rate amongst drivers was less in. the six months ended June, 1933, than in the two preceding years, and although four drivers had died recently whilst on duty, he understood that in none of these eases was the nature of the work held to be responsible for the fatality. The average sickness during the periods October to December, 1932, and March to June, 1933, was lower than. in any corresponding period for the previous
three years. The incidence of the influenza epidemic in January and February last precluded useful comparison with the sickness in those months in previous years.
Accidents to Children: The Latest Figures.
THE Home Secretary has informed Mr. Cowan that, as regards the Metropolitan and City of London Police districts, during the year ended December 31, 1932, 236 children under fifteen, of whom 52 were under five, were killed in traffic accidents, and 10,138 children under fifteen, were injured in these districts. The corresponding figures for the first six months of this year Were 125 children under fifteen killed, of whom 31 were under five' and 5,541 children under 'fifteen injured.
The Annual Statistical Review published by the Registrar-General, for England and Wales, included figures as to the number of persons killed in traffic accidents, and these figures were classified in five-year age groups. The Review for 1931. showed that during that year, which was the last year for which figures had been published, 1,286 children under fifteen were killed in England and Wales, of whom 393 were children under five.