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Asks M.P.s For Support

26th February 1943
Page 15
Page 15, 26th February 1943 — Asks M.P.s For Support
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

THE Standing Joint Committee has submitted to Members of Parliament a memorandum regarding the M. of W.T. Scheme for the control of long-distance traffic. It points out -that the S.J.C. was not consulted before the new Scheme was announced, but all the Ministry's contacts with the industry on matters of detail •liave been effected through its' medium. .

With the advent of war, the petrol situation father restricted hauliers, and early in 1990 the industry was in danger of disintegration through the allocation of all possible traffics to rail. During 1940-41 air activity somewhat disrupted rail services, but road transport, with its flexibility, saved the. situation. During that period the demand for transport exceeded the supply, and to meet this the Minister announced, in January, 1941, the first Government Haulage Scheme. By the time this'commenced to function the position had been reversed, and transport facilities exceeded demand.

Repeated representations were made to the Minister, pointing out the precarious 'state of the industrar and, emphasizing the need for steps to maintain its virility and efficiency.

In overaber, 1942, the Minister annoudEed his new Haulage Scheme to meet the difficult situation arising from measures to conserve rubber and fuel. To make the best use of vehicles the Government had decided to bring Iong-distarice road haulage' under con trol, and this might-' be extended to include shorter-distance traffic.

Operators are being invited to enter into agreements with the Ministry. Some are to be taken over as a whole at a remuneration based on the net profit of a pre-war standard period, other vehicles are to be hired at a fixed rate schedule. Tliose surplus to be temporarily laid up, and payment made if they be ntaintained in fit condition.

Goods will be accepted for conveyance only by agents of the Minister.

'EsPsTPrinciples Advocated

The S.J.C., from the first, advocated the adoption of E.P.T. principles to assist the speedy settlement of financial arrangements on an equitable basis, thus avoiding extra clerical work, but the Ministry insisted on a net-profit basis, which, apart from other defects, provided that regard should be had only to fixed physical assets in certain cases, and )adjusting remuneration inothers. The Committee contended that if E.P.T. principles could not .be adopted, consideration should be given to all 'assets employed in the undertaking.

The Ministry refused to adopt either alternative, and the S.J.C. believesthat the refusal will seriously undermine the financial stability of controlled undertakings and militate against their 'efficiency and virility. The rates for the hired vehicles are under consideration, but the first suggestions would appear to. be unduly. low.

The industry has had no ojeortunity of expressing to the Minister an opinion as to whether the Scheme represents the best way of achieving the Government's object. T h e industry could have suggested alternative methods to obtain the desired results with less expenditure of time and. money—e.g., the fuel-rationing system might have been utilized.

Little economy in rubber and fuel can be effected before the end of the year; in fact, it would not be surprising if the Scheme resulted in a greater consumption. Moreover, there are large fleets of Government vehicles carrying traffics which could be handled more economically by hauliers,

Whenever, during the war, the industry has been required to start a scheme, e.g., the port .pools, meat pool and livestock transport, it has successfully undertaken this without the creation of ,a -Vast anil expensive humaucratic machine.

It is impossible to predict the demand which may suddenly be made on transport at any time, and the vulnerabilityof -the railways must be kept in mind. The S.J.C., therefore, ift view of the serious national issues involved, respectfully requests Members of Parliament to approach the Minister personally and to 'take such other action as may be appropriate.


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