Further Taxation of the Industry is Impracticable.
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WE may take it for granted that the various highway authorities will make the strongest possible efforts to secure an increase of revenue from motor taxation, whereas it is the contention of the motor-using community that the taxation_ of their vehicles is 25 per cent, in excess of that which is just and proper. The present taxes were based on a required total of £8,000,000 per annum, a sum in itself in excessdof that demanded from this class of taxpayer in previous years. They have, in effect, produced over 210,000,000, or 25 per cent. beyond the agreed figure—agreed on the Treasury side as being the amount that could be collected (and obviously regarded by the Treasury as the maximum), and agreed by the representatives of the users as the utmost that should be taken from the users' pockets. It is contended on be-half of the users that this excess (25 per cent. or more, because the current three months must be productive of yet further revenue) should be returned to the taxpayer in some shape or form, as, for instance, in the way of reduced taxation in 1922; whilst, failing the general application of the principle of reduction, relief should be given to owners of transport vehicles, on the ground that the heavy tax only adds to the burden of the cost of food and commodities.
The engineer, surveyor and architect to the Durham County Council, Mr. A. G. Brookes, 0.B.E., M.Inst.T., who read a paper at one of the sessions of the Institute of Transport at Olympia, on highway maintenance and 'administration under modern traffic conditions, ascribed a large proportion of the increase in recent costs of maintaining roads— namely, 14 millions sterling out of the 50 millions which are. now our annual road costs—to the heavy vehicle, and gave it as his opinion that upward revision of taxation is necessary in the -ease of the heavy motor and motorbus, even going so far as to suggest a "permanent way" charge of ld per tonmile in the case of goods vehicles, and Id. per carmile in the case of motorbuses and chars-A-banes. With ever-increasing competition from the railways, and with high costs for wages, fuel, rents and maintenance, the road haulage industry is not in a position to face further increases due to road improvement, and it would be better to "hasten slowly" on highway development if the cost of it is to be so great that a further tax must inevitably be placed upon the transport of goods and upon passenger
B5 transport by omnibus. We doubt greatly whether even the pleasure side of passenger travel could stand any further impost.
The Evils of Overloading.
IN epite of the many dangers incurred by loading vehicles above their weight capacity, instances are far too often noted where vehicles are palpably only waiting for the last straw before they collapse' and, in some cases, actual breakdowns show that this last straw has been added.
We admit that it is very tempting to a road transport contractor to accept single loads heavier than those which his vehicle should carry, rather than to pass them on to some competitor who has vehicles of suitable capacity.
The contractor sometimes has the erroneous impression that he will be able to carry the heavier load at the same over-all cost, with the result that the cost of transport per ton will be diminished. He seldom realizes that overloading considerably increases the tyre wear and maintenance charges, and may be the cause of serious breakdowns and possibly of a,ceidents. The user of a commercial vehicle may argue that it will note-natter carrying an extra half ton on one occasion only, but this is fallacious; that extra half tonmay be all that is required-to overstress the springs and other parts of the chassis.
It must be remembered thatdialf a ton stationary load is not the same as half a ton moving load. Road shocks may cause the halt ton load to exert pressures af a ton or more on the chassis, and particularly on the springs. This especially applies where the vehicle is running over rough roacTs. Once a vehicle has been overstressed it will remain so, in the same way that a piece of elastic overstretched will not return to ita original length..
Encouragement of Overseas' Trade. • IT IS a truism that overseas' trade in British motor vehicles-could be most -readily encouraged by a
substantial reduction in priees. _Any such reduction is, however, contingent on savings which are very difficnit,to effect, primarily in respect of wages and of material.
We know that costa of production can only be brought down to the levvest•sposailehe figure. by the organization of a considerable output of a strictly standardized article ; consequently, anything which may tend to render this method of manufacture impracticable tends also to keep up prices.
It is for this reason that it is so regrettable that various Overseas' Governments consider it necessary to impose restrictions on the use of motor vehicles such as to compel deviation from standard design in all or most of, the vehicles. entering, their ,territory.
Every country has; of course, devised its own law to regulate the used of vehicles directly mechanical transport has become sufficiently popular to render some regulation necessary. Unfortunately, in frarm ing the rules, there has been too much independence of action and disregard for what happens elsewhere. Rauh Government naturally looksat the problem from its own angle, and endeavours so to legislate as to compel manufacturers exactly to meet its, supposed requirements. The fact that, in so doing, prices are forced up and development as a whole is impeded is not sufficiently recognized.
One finds in various i countries minor regulations evidently intended to safeguard the local roads, but of limited Value from.. that point of view. These regulations should be revised, with a full realization of the importance of bringing those in .force in all countries as nearly as eeopsible into line, so as to enable vehicles to' be produced which may be both economically and legally employed everywhere. Another, perhaps minor, direction in which we efl : believe Overseas' Empire • Governments could en-courage the use of motor vehicles in their territories is by definitely earmarking for the roads the proceeds of any taxation applied to-such vehicles, either oa their importation or in return for permission to use the roads.
The motor owner realizes that road improvement reacts to his benefit and saves him money by reducing operating,costs. He is, therefore, not unwilling to be subjected to taxation for this particular purpose. With the object of getting better roads he will submit to a degree of taxation against which he would protest vigorously and, perhaps, in some measure successfully; if the money were to be used for general purposes. Many Overseas' Empire Governments, when approached on this point, reply. that, while the proseeds of motor taxation are not definitely earmarked lathe manner suggested, the sums actually spent on road improvement are vastly greater than those raised by means of taxation or motor vehicles. The fact remains, however, that an equal or even a higher. 'tax would be paidfar more willingly if the Suggested principle were definitely adopted.
Not a Horse Left in the L.C.C. Service.
IT WAS not without a certain commendable pride that Major Percy Cl. Simmons, J.P., chairman of the London County Council, and for five years chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee thereof, was able to state, at the luncheon given by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in connection with the Commercial Motor Show, that all horsedrawn vehicles had now entirely disappeared from the transport services of the Council, with a resulting increase in efficiency and a saving in cost.
These advantageous results would naturally be expected by all who have had experience of the respec tive merits of animal and motor power, but it will, in a measure, be a surprise to the officials connected with other local authorities throughout the country that in London, where the needs and the circumstances are the most varied, it has been found desirable altogether to dispense with the horse. .
The London County Council possesses nearly 200. motor-driven fire-extinguishing appliances, a dozen
vehicles devoted to ambulance work and nearly 70. others utilized in connection with the tramways and for general transport. That is quite a substantial fleet of power-propelled vehicles, and it is interesting to note that it includes, besides the vehicles driven by internal-combustion engines, steam and electric vehicles. .
The displacement of horse traction for the haulage of fire-fighting appliances has permitted economies which must be placed to the credit of motor propul
sion, but which cannot be shown in the figures applicable to specific vehicles. Thus, the greater rapidity
with which motor appliances can get through the streets has enabled 'the Council to dispense with a number of fire-brigade stations without in the slightest degree impairing the efficiency of the ser vice. And not only is the motor pump (dubbed " fireengine " by the populace) quicker away and faster in the streets, but, on arrival at the scene of a conflagration, it is found to be far more efficient and powerful than the old steam pumps.
The testimony of the chairman of the L.C.C. should be taken to heart in every council chamber throughout the kingdom. The fire-figlifing service of the country, as a whole, is bad, as is witnessed by the number of disastrous burnings of mansions just a little removed from the fire-stations. Were our local authorities suitably and efficiently equipped with appliances speedy in travel and powerful in action, provision would -be made on the spot for a supply of water, and thus much valuable property, at present in daily peril, would be adequately safeguarded.