The Flaw in the Act.
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WE DESCRIBE it as the, flaw in the Act, be cause, whilst many defects and anomalies have disclosed themselves upon the application of the provisions of the Finance Act of 1920 to the taxation of motorvehicles, this particular one has the distinction of being admitted. The intention of those who drafted Schedule 2 of the Finance Act was undoubtedly to render easy the burden of taxation on all vehicles engaged in trade and used for business purposes, and to impose the heavier burden upon those which were used for private passenger traffic. It was, 'seemingly, thought that a tax of £1 per horse power, in 'conjunction with given scales of taxation on commercial goods vehicles and hackney carriages, would effect this„ And, in order to define the goods vehicle, the term "used solely for the conveyance of ' goods in the course of trade " was employed—a relic of earlier legislation where a privilege was being accorded. The word " solely " has been the undoing of the Aet, in so far as the fairly large number of lorries and vans of low horse-power are concerned. Sight of these vehicles seems to have been lost entirely.
Attention was first drawn to the flaw in the Schedule in our weekly contribution "Transport Tips for Tradesmen," and, as we reported in our last issue, the Law Officers of the Crown have now, at the request of the Ministry of Transport, adjudicated on the matter and have advised that owners of commercial motors (other than hackney vehicles) are entitled to license on the horse-power basis provided they declare at the time of application that they intend to use such vehicles during the currency of the licence for purposes other than the convey ance of goods. .
The effect of this is that, where an owner definitely has the intention during the licensing period (one or more quarters of the year). to use a goods vehicle for the carrying of passengers, if the horse-power is less than the number of pounds charged as the licence fee of the vehicle as a goods vehicle, he may, and should, register it under paragraph 6 of the Schedule instead of paragraph 5; that is to say, on the basis of It per horse-power. In the case of a vehicle with a pre-1913 engine, he is in an even more favourable position, because the horse-power can exceed the number of pounds set out above by 20 per cent., and because he can claim a rebate of 25 per cent, of the tax in respect of such a vehicle. If the tax on unladen weight be cheaper than the tax on the horse-power basis, the owner could take out hi a licence for the vehicle as a goods vehicle, and would then be under the usual restriction not to use it-for passenger carrying purposes. The clause in the Roads Act giving to local licensing authorities power to refuse an application for a licence which is not appropriate to the vehicle would thus seem to be useless for the purpose for which it was intended. According to the decision of the Law Officers, the licensing authorities may net refuse to allow the applicant the advantage of that word "solely." Of course, the defect lies in the fact that a man need only once in a licensing period carry a member of his family on a pleasure ride to have secured the necessary evidenceethat his vehicle is not used solely in the carriage of goods. The practical advantage lies in the fact that a goads vehicle so registered can be employed in the eonveyanca of employees on outings, pleasure trips, and so forth.
Time-saving in Bus Overhauling.
MORE THAN usual interest attaches to our description of the new works at Chiswick which the directors of the London General Omnibus Co., Ltd., are building for the overhauling of their vehicles. Not merely is there the intention to centralize an important section of the work of conducting a service, which carries 873,000,000 passengers every year, but there is the cutting out of waste relation, rendered more and more necessary by the incidence of high wage rates.
The L.G.0.0. have had to provide a public service and to run during recent years at a lose, and there is no particular call on those who provide the capital to act as philanthropists in. this way. Hence, if wages and all other costs are to be put at a high level and fares are not to be raised to a point where potential passengers fight shy of the vehicles, and walk, waste motion must be cut out in every branch of the work of maintaining and operating the buses.
Knowing the extreme efficiency of the overhauling system in vogue in the L.G.O.C. garages, we have, hitherto, accepted 16 days as the minimum time in which a bus could go through its annual overhaul. What, then, must one think of a scheme which reduces that time to four days? The improvement is effected by a process of rebuilding a chassis with reconditioned or new parts, the work being so organized that whilst the details undergo -normal reconditioning (somewhat accelerated under the new conditions), the complete chassis is only dismembered for a few hours. The result of this improvement is the lengthening of the working year of a bus by 12 days, the earnings for which period will go to reduce the margin of loss or, perhaps, even to turn that loes into a slight
profit. . .
We do not wish to refer here to any of the details of the new scheme; they are outlined fully in our article. But we do wish to draw the attention of all those engaged in the manufacture, operation, and maintenance of commercial vehicles to the example given by the L.G.O.C. in the elimination o0waste motion. A. careful examination of a system of manufacture or of maintenance should help materially to cut down costs and to effect an improvement in many a balance sheet.
The Prevention of Mud-splashing by Motor Vehicles.
W' E HAVE dealt at considerable length else
where in this issue with the recent trial of mud, splash-preventing devices, organized by . the Camberwell Borough Council, and held at Herne Hill, in the early part of last week.
The council is to be congratulated upon its enterprise in this matter and upon trying cast the splashguards by the most searching tests yet conducted. Unfortunately, the guards did not' come quite up to /314
expectations; in • fact, not one of those entered succeeded in obtaining as much as 75 per cent, of the total marks awarded, whilst but eight in all succeeded in obtaining over 50 per cent. The judges stated in their preliminary report that they were of the unanimous opinion that no device, among thoae submitted could be considered efficient from all points of view. This serves to emphasize the extreme difficulty of designing a splash-gliard which will be mitirely satisfactory in ale respects. It is possible that the problem is one that cannot be solved, and that certain of the types of splash-guard already in existence represent the best that can be done in this direction, 'but the views of competent authorities on the matter are that even the beat of the existing guards is, by no means, the last word. Inventors and designers should, therefore, not be discouraged by the results of this trial, but rather should they take encouragement from the fact that the perfect guard has not yet been found and that the way is still open
for the exercise of their ingenuity. •
The paints and difficulties to be considered in the design of such guards are many, and some are admittedly very difficult to overcome. This would appear to apply particularly to the kerb shock tests. Certain guards which did comparatively well in reducing the splashing of mud were almost complete failures in regard to their capability of withstanding the battering, or tearingeaction' caused when a wheel of a vehicle strikes the kerb al a slight angle, or scrapes along it for some little distance. Even the winning device presented a somewhat crumpled appearance after this test. Many of the guards which failed did so obviously because they were hurriedly constructed, without sufficient regard for the considerable vibration which occurs to all unsprung parts ofa chassis, such as the wheels or axles. In some cases, thin, unprotected sheen metal Wee held in position by bolts, with the result that, after the 47 miles' endurance test, the bolt heads dragged right through the metal. Such faults as tfie•se were sufficient to show that many of the devices did not receive practical tests on a vehicle before the trial.
The Makers' Accommodation Vehicle and • Its Tax.
IN THE PAST,it has not been unusual for motor manufacturers to oblige valueid eusltiomers by lending, or hiring to them at a specially low rate, a vehicle to take the place temporarily of one in process of overhaul. It must-be observed, however, that the new system of taxation definitely discourages this practice, or, alternatively, makes it necessary for the manufacturer to charge at a higher rate if he is to cover his out-of-pocket expenses without
making any profit on the transaction. . In the old days, the vehicle which took the place of that under overhaul automatically contributed to the revenue through the medium of the petrol tax. Under the new scheme, it can only contribute through the medium of the licence duty. As a licence cannot be taken out for a less period than, three months from certain dates it follows that, .i order to oblige a customer with the use of a vehicle for a week or so, the manufacturer will have to pay for a three months' licence for a corresponding vehicle. If the dates fall unfortunately, he might even have to take out two such quarterly licences.
Thus it is evident that, under the new scheme, his out-of-pocket expenses are considerably increased
and, on the whole, he will be much less disposed than in the past to go to the length of actually lending as distinct from hiring out a vehicle. ,.
It should surely be passible to permit a temporary transfer of a licence from one vehicle, declared to be in course of overhaul, to another, nort liable by reason of its weight or capacity, to a higher siaie of taxation. .