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Position of the L.G.B. Committee • on Construction and Use.

24th June 1915, Page 1
24th June 1915
Page 1
Page 1, 24th June 1915 — Position of the L.G.B. Committee • on Construction and Use.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The original extraordinary action of Mr. Herbert Samuel, M.P., the ex-President of the Local Govt ernment Board; in appointing, during war time, an expert committee to investigate matters. concerning the future construction and use of traction engines and heavy motorcars, continues to disturb and prejudice the prospects of complete investigation by that Committee. Mr. Samuel appointed the Com;. mittee to which we refer, contrary to general expectation and to any reaI obligations of the moment, in March last.. We published the constitution of the Committee and its terms of reference in our issue for the 18th of that month. The Committee,. since then, has been occupied at its several sittings in hearing evidence on. behalf of the Cciunty Councils Association and other. road-authority bodies. That evidence. is not yet available, -and it. may f not be available for general .comment until the Committee reports in due course. Mueh of the evidence, however, is to be communicated, as we were exclusively able to announce in our issue of the 27th ult., to the principal user bodies in the. country—the Commercial Motor Users Association and the National Traction Engine Owners and Users Association, amongst them.

The difficulties of users at large, at the present time, in regard to the securing and presentation of rebutting evidence, are very considerable. There is scarcely a firm in the country which has not lost large numbers of its staff to the active forces of the Crown, and done so most willingly. Those who are loft behind are more than fully occupied. in keeping pace with their combined pre-war and new duties: It is almost impossible, we find by inquiry, to ensure attendances at monthly committee meetings which shall be half as numerous as they were be:fore the war started. This is certainly known to he the fact in the eiise of the leading mothiing organizations of the country, whilst not a few national . bodies, the names of which we might give, have practically suspended their sittings by reason of the absence of so many of their members at the Front or for training. lire'haVe not'been"able to asu.,eitain the precise date on which the Secretary of the L.G.B. Committee expects to communicate prints Of the 'essential parts of the roadmakers' evidence. It may be a week hence, or it may be several weeks later. When the dossier is delivered, the seriousness of the 'attacks which are made in it upon heavy motor traffic will undoubtedly call for close investigation on the part of those who are charged with the duty of representing the intere,sts of users before the Cominittee. This duty cannot-be undertaken lightly nor • discharged -hurriedly. he dislocation of general business hinders the 'compilation of the particulars _ . , which. must be lodged in reply.

We cannotbring ourselves to believe that the new President of the Local Government Board, Mr. Walter Long, who has been in close personal touch with heavy motor -traffic. since its earliest days, will turn a deaf ear to any appeals which maY be Made to him for the fullest. extension Of dates for the hearing of road users witnesses that May be necessary.Mr . Long was the Mernber_fer. one 'CI' the LiVerPool Par liamentary divisions during the period of the original competitive.trials forheavy .motora in the years 1898, 1899 and .1901.. He went:down-to Liverpool, on the ,.66eaSion of the presentation of the judges' report on the third Of .those.tri*,;-in October ; -1901; and gave' a promise,. subsequentry redeemed", by the Departmental. Committee which he appointed in 1904, to act on the -recommendation-oft-he judges, and to increase the old limit of tare weight from three tons to some hightieand more-Practieable figure. Mr.

Long has all this " history his mind.

Mr. Samuel, it appears, allowed himself to be rushed into the appointment of the L.G.B. Committee under a misapprehension. It was an injustice, in many senses, to traction-engine and heavymotor interests, with a large pereentage of their personnel no longer in the country, to institute such an inquiry in the circumstances.It is not too late, however, if the Committee shows any signs of unpreparedness to give the necessary tithe,. -to satisfy the new President of the L.G.B. that there are sound reasons for suspending the sittiogs of the Committee unfit the War is -over. We do not intend to ask for this at present:, nor to recommend that such a request 'should be preferred... It-is a reserve course. of action .which remains in hand against any undue attempt to hasten 'Matters unduly by the 'County Councils Association and its coadjutors. We consider, that it will be a perfectly-reasonable demand, on the part of those who'repr'esent."users'of-alhirirrdsof-road=traction plant, if they apPlY to be allowed until September next to prepare their ansNvers to -allegations which -have so far not .been cornmuni7. rated to them, but as to the extent and nature of which sornething -more-than rumour_ is available.

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