Nationalization or Private Enterprise?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
A Forceful Commentary by a Leading Manufacturer in Our Industry, in which He Strongly Criticizes the Tendency Towards the State Control of Commerce and Industry
THERE appears to be quite a lot of speculation" regarding the . future of transport, and the views expressed by the Minister of War Transport, and others in Parliament show a distinct tendency. towards some form of control by the Government after the war, even to such length as subsidizing the railways, should such a course become necessary.
One agrees that the railways are doing wonderful work for the country and we could not very well do without their services, even in peacetime, but to say, that they should be " bolstered up" by the Government to keep them solvent is, to my mind, simply ludicrous. Why the taxpayers of the country should be called upon to bear a further burden in this direction is beyond my imagination. The enviable position this nation has attained in the markets of the world has been due to private enterprise, freedom of thought and action by the individual, and healthy competition in general.
Spirit of Adventure .
• Must be Preserved
Why this sudden change of thought? Is the adventurous and creative spirit to be relegated to the past and the average British citizen told that in future the State will look after his 'ants, and all that he has to di) is to leave business (as well as politics) to the Government? I cannot really think so.
Some may say : "Look at the results achieved in Russia, by the masses becoming subservient to the State." Wonderful things have certainly been achieved by that great nation, and all honour is due to it, but can we in this country draw the same parallel? With all due respect to the Russian people, conditions in England were vastly different, as, even before the 1914-1918 war, the standard of living was, I believe, on a higher plane, and the British working man enjoyed privileges far beyond those of many other races. This, I venture to state, was due to his own initiative and strength of purpose, rather than to the State. The British people are essentially individualists and resent any interference with their private affairs, either by the State or any other form of outside control, and what obtains in any other country does not necessarily apply to England.
The main object of the present war, we are told, is to gain freedom, but" • from the attitude of certain members of our present Government, I am afraid that we are going to be sadly disappointed. What are we going to do about it?
Government control of this, that and the other is not the panacea of our post-war problems. No trade or industry owes its origin to the State. State control does not have to pass efficiency tests; it survives at the expense of the community and the taxpayer.
Private Enterprise Can Do Much
Industry under Government control would not take risks, because of possible criticisms in Parliament. In the interests of the country and its people _private enterprise must be encouraged, which would then allow the indi;idual to use his best endeavours in the production of commodities that.are demanded by all.
Lord Seminll gives some interesting figures in relation to the money expended in transport during a prewar period.
To quote his words, "the amount paid in a normal year for road; and rail-borne travel and the transport of merchandise 'Ails £588,000,000 (that was in 1938); of that 2315,000,000 related to road traffic and £163,000,000 to rail traffic. Added to these two sums was £110,000,000 for tram, bus and underground services." He also cited "that railway wagons average 101 miles an halowhen moving, but on the average they, only moiie 11 hours a day. Therefore the effective speed of the freight they carry is about_half h mile an hour. The road vehicle, the lorry which runs from door to door, travels —taking a modest figure—at 10 miles an hour, and is, 'therefore, running a service 20 times faster than that ren
dered by the railways. The fact that freight by road averages 20 times the speed of freight by rail is surely one of the several explanations of the astonishing demand after the last war for road vehicles in a country where railways, canals and coastal ships are available. What I suggest is of importance is that road transport should be given adequate roads, controlled by sensible traffic regulations, so that this traffic mechanista may develop to the full the services it is undoubtedly capable of rendering to the national need."
If such figures be a guide to the general trend of what road transport was doing at that time, all I can say is that there must he some case for the roads, which will take a lot of refuting in the light of such statistics.
In conclusion, let us take a brief glance at conditions as they apply to the present war situation.
Road Transport Does a Sig War Job
The railway companies are continually telling the public of the wonderful way in which they are carrying the war loads. Whilst to a large extent this is true, and we are grateful to them for the job they are doing, can we not spare a little time and thought to road transport, which has carried million"of tons of war material? One has only to look at the number of vehicles engaged in transporting awkward loads, such as damaged aeroplanes, barges, Tanks and other commodities essential to the war production, to say nothing of the .hundreds of vehicles actually used by the Army itself, to realize that road transport is playing its part in bringing the war to a successful conclusion.
Does the country realize that without the motor industry the weapons of war could not have been forged, and it is only because' of the enterprise and energy of such an industry that we are on the way to vistory?