The Forthcoming Manchester Show'.
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We have pleasure in giving advance publication (page 448) to the names of the commercial vehicle and allied exhibitors who will be found at the .North or England Show. The cernmercial motor section, as we have already announced, will be in the City Hall, which is conveniently situated to the business and exchange centres of Cottonopolis, and of which we reproduce an exterior view in this issue. We hope that additional names may be found in the list before the opening of the Show, although we are not in a position definitely to state that accommodation for more exhibitors can readily be found,
The claims of Manchester, as a centre, upon owners and prospective-owners of commercial motors are unique, ln probably no district of the country, unless in and around London, can so much trade be usefully done by the employment of modern transport. The cotton spinning and weaving industries, and numerous branch trades which depend upon those industries, such as bleaching, dyeing and printing, finishing, and packing, involve the use of short-distance transport to an extent which is not ordinarily appreciated by any writer other than a Lancastrian. The same goods, in their various stages of manufacture, are moved to and fro, and in these Connections no factor is more important than that of speed—unless it be that of reliability. Modern commercial motors ensure both.
The case for the commercial motor has always been openly received and studied. in all parts of Lancashire, since the year 1896, when the first Motor Car Act became law. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been expended there upon road-carrying, and the fruits of those labours are now being reaped. It was the carriers' and the railway strikes of 1911 which gave the last-needed impetus to demand in all matters pertaining to motor transport, and it was immediately after those events that the circulation of TEE COMMERCIAL MOTOR began to go up by leaps and bounds in the manufacturing areas of the North-West. Fresh business is still waiting to be done, on a large scale, in those districts, and the stream of regular purchases is growing larger, and not smaller. Commercial motors, nowadays, instead of putting other people off, automatically sell new machines by their performance.
It has been our practice, for several years past, to publish enlarged issues inconnection with the Manchester Shows. We have supported them, right back to the struggling days of the competitive shows that were held at Bellevue, and we are naturally in a position to support. the pending one in even greater degree. Comparative working costs, interviews with important local owners and other suitable features will be included in our two issues dated the 13th and 20th prox. Several of the articles will be from the writer's own pen, and will concern matters of the closest personal interest to Manchester carriers, merchants and shippers, as well as to owners and prospective-owners in the surrounding areas which serve and are served by Manchester, Birkenhead, Liverpool and Preston.
We do not feel called upon to provide space in this journal for the purpose or dealing at any length with several embryo flotations that have for their alleged object the provision of new supplies of motor spirit for consumers in this country. lf any of our readers happen. to receive prospectuses with regard to such promotions, we think they will do well to make sure that such undertakings are not in the nature of " rescue " companies. Further examination of one or more of such schemes may reveal the fact that cheaper petrol and high dividends are expected zo be conferred on the snareholders at one and the same time, although it is fairly obvious that the two promised benefits are likely to be mutually destructive.
We by no means take the view that there is no cpportunit,y to bring in supplies of motor spirit from sources which are independent of the existing importing houses, but we do feel that the right scheme has not yet been advanced. Not only is there no room for watered capital, big flotation profits and big payments to vendors of unproved or partially-proved oilbearing territory, but every possible pound of subscribed capital will require to be conserved, if permanent success is to be achieved, to cover the establishnient of the business and adequate provision for distribution. We wish that we could credit any one of the several new schemes which have come under our notice with that prescience.
Local Authorities and Idle Proposals for Local Taxes.
The suggestion by the Bradford Corporation, which is now happily withdrawn, in regard to local taxation upon heavy commercial motors, is a. matter which cannot be allowed to pass without further reference in our columns. We are ever on the watch for the appearance of proposals of the kind, which are too often overlooked by owners. They are the outcome of mistaken conceptions in respect of heavy motors, and it is of real importance to the supporters of this journal that the prospects of success for any further draft clauses of the kind, in the event of their being put forward by other local authorities, should be defined.
The Parliament of this country seldom looks with favour upon the local initiation of legislation which by right ought to. originate in Parliament itself. The genesis of such legislation, of course, is found, as a rule, either in a Government department or in the Cabinet. According to all precedent, therefore, misconceived efforts, such as those for which some members of the Bradford Corporation were recently responsible, do not stand much chance of success when they come before Parliament, but it is satisfactory to its to be able to inform owners of commercial motors that yet another safeguard exists. In fact, we can state, without any reservation whatsoever, that the likelihood that any such locally-framed scale of taxation will become law is virtually nil.
The further safeguard is found in the important recommendation of the Select Committee on Local Legislation, which report was published on the 3rd inst. That committee had referred to it the subject of all private .Bills that were promoted—or that may be promoted—by municipal and other local authorities, by which it is proposed to create powers in conflict with, deviation from, or excess of, the provisions of the general law, it has put forward, as one of its principal findings, the following: " That the time has arrived when aa authority should be constituted to decide which roads should be the main roads of the country, and that the cost of their maintenance should be taken oil the rates and put upon the taxes."
The harmful influences of the II reach octrei will be enormously magnified in this country, if there be any reversion to the equivalent of the old toll gates ; there can be no sanction to local taxation upon transport, unless the commercial and economic practices which affect internal communication and trade are to be undermined and sacrificed, There may be a case for some reasonable adjustment of taxation upon heavy ceramercial vehicles, and the Commercial Motor Users Association has, for several years past, been prepared to accept a reasonable assessment of the kind in regard to steam wagons and tractors, on the basis of registered axle-weight. There are many and infhiential interests in commercial motoring which hold the view that the best justifigation for an owners' campaign to secure an acceleration of better road construction and maintenance is found in the possession of the right to argue from the standpoint of a reasonable contribution to those changes and improvements. On the other hand, and the point is one which cannot he too forcibly impressed, should any proposed scale of taxation be excessive or unreasonable, it will inevitably be broken down on discussion in Parliament. If a scheme of motor taxation wem to be formulated on any but lines that were equitable, there would be no case for the avoidance of an all-round wheel tax, and that the country will not stand. Numerous resolutions will be advanced, on the occasion of the Third International Road Congress, which is to take place in London next June, with regard to axle-weights, wheel diameters, and other constructional features, so far as they bear upon problems of road wear and the provision of funds for the improvement and maintenance of highways. N obody can, at the moment, foresee the exact shape which those various resolutions will take, let alone their outcome. Owners and prospective-owners of commercial motors, whether their vehicles have indiarubber or steel tires, have to rely upon the activity of their representative organization, the C.M.U.A., which moves in such matters in close consultation with the R.A.C. and the S.M....11.1'. The necessary assurances have been received—although these are admittedly of an unofficial character—to tile effect that in no circumstances will changes be made in the Heavy Motor Car Order without the holding of conferences with those bodies, and possibly not without the appointment of a Departmental Committee to take evidence, on the lines that were adopted in the year 1904, prior to the issue of the Order under which all motor vehicles which weigh more than two tons unladen are now worked.
The industry can, we feel satisfied, look forward composedly to the issues of this year's Road Congress. That expression of opinion, however, is not the equivalent of disapproval for steady organization and concerted action on the part of representative bodies. In the year 1904, when the Departmental Committee which had been appointed by the Rt. Hon. Walter Long, M.P., then President of the Local Government Board, was taking evidence with a view to the preparation of the Heavy Motor Car Order, under the chairmanship of Mr. Hobhouse, an exchange of views between the Commercial Motor Users Association and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders had the desired result—the evidence that was put forward by the representatives of those
bodies, one of whom was the writer, outweighed the evidence that was put. forward on behalf of road engineers and surveyors. We have absolute confidence in the strength of the case to which we are devoted, and hold the belief unswervingly that no harmful new regulations will be made. Sir Horace alonro, who is now Permanent Secretary at the L.G.B., was a member of the 1904 Committee, and no Government official is better versed in the pros and cons, of the situation. Our assertion of confidence in the future legal position, of course, is subject to the carrying out of a well-considered plan of action, through the .C.M.U.A., on behalf of owners, and the owner who stands out from supporting that body is certainly not studying his own best interests, or he is ace, ised wrongly by insincere writers.
Finally, so far as Bradford is concerned, we welcome the steps which are being taken to form a loca. C.M.U.A., and concerning which a notice appears elsewhere in this issue. It will probably be called the West Riding Commercial Motor Users Associatime It. should be a flourishing body.
Is There to be a Boom in Steam?
There can be no doubt that increasing attention is being paid by purchasers to the case for staaem. It is a popular line of argument, we know, to belittle steam, and to " write up " the petrol vehicle, but that course has never been adopted by THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR, Every member of our Editorial staff has had considerable steam experience, and for that reason, if for no other, it is not unnatural that we should have declined to "let go " of an old friend. Our contention that there must. always be a place for steam does not merely date back a few months. It is not coincident with the abnormal rise in the price of petrol, although that has been fnlly recognized by us as a factor in the situation.
Steam was unassailable for all loads above three tons, until a few years ago. Then, its unquestioned superiority wa.s challenged by the heavier types of petrol-driven vehicles, and this changing relationship was undoubtedly helped by the comparatively-low prices for petroleum spirit which were then ruling. In certain trades' and particularly in certain sections
of those trades, the demand for high point-to-point speeds, with five-ton loads upon the carrying plat forms, was found to be irresistible, and that demand was not met by the steam wagon, which type of vehicle is inevitably hindered by one or other of the little attentions which have to be given to it on the road, and by the finding and taking in of water. In addition, of course, in the event of the use of rubber tires, the cost was found to average something like 5d. per mile for a five-tonner. Since those days, the claims of steam have steadily improved, and its prospects have become brighter. There promises to be a. veritable " boom" in steam vehicles for loads of three tons, and in that prosperity
we believe the two-tonner and the five-tonner, all on
indiazubber tires, will soon have increasing shares. Nobody who has control of a transport undertaking, or of the transport branch of any other business, can view with unconcern the likelihood of maintained high prices for petroleum spirit, or for substitutes which may be found suitable in a measure to take its place. Benzol, valuable though its more extended use must be as a relief, cannot aid the commercialmotor owner to the point which will enable him to see petrol down to ad. per gallon, which price obtained less than three years ago, whilst there is also the petrel tax to be borne in mind, and that tax will undoubtedly be extended to hen no! and paraffin hereafter. It is not safe, in our judgment, to reckon upon the future marketing of supplies of liquid fuel for internal-combustion engines, be the source and nature of that fuel what they may, at less than Is. per gallon net, inclusive of lid. per gallon tax. Promoters of new supplies will not be satisfied with small profits, having regard to all circumstances. Current efforts to arrange new supplies on co-operative lines show this to be the case. The expected reductions are not to be found in the published estimates.
If manufacturers of steam vehicles are to benefit to the full from the effects of world-wide demand for petroleum spirit, with resulting elevation of prices, they must be prepared to design their vehicles generally for service upon rubber tires. The use of rubber upon the wheels of five-ton steamers has of necessity been limited, but the employment of such tires, with the accruing beneficial relaxations in regard to speed which are experienced under the terms of the Heavy Motor Car Order, has thoroughly established the 34-ton rubber-tired steamer in commercial esteem. If makers will only look forward to the effects of low prices for rubber, which cannot fail to take effect at the latest by the year 1916, they will, without, doubt, lighten their designs in many respects, so as to provide for the submission to the public of models which will show the advantage of that fresh. point. Rubber is now in the neighbourhood of 4s. 6d. per lb., and there are competent authorities wha hold the opinion that there may even be another temporary " squeeze " during the present year. We are concerned with the years ahead, when rubber will be at or below 2s. 6d. per lb., and steam-lorry makers must also concern themselves with the far-reaching possibilities that will then be open to them. Rubber will be used ; buyers and road authorities will insist. It rests with steam men to share in the benefits.