Minister Meets R.H.A. in Drafting Nationalization Regulations
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In making regulations under the Transport Act, the Minister of Transport has tried to satisfy the R.H.A.
All notices of acquisition must be served by the end of 1949.
In the 26 weeks ended April 26, 1947, road transport handled 9,892,000 tons oi coal.
Megabership of the R.H.A. now exceeds 18,600.
Throughout negotiations on the Transport Bill, the Minister's attitude towards road transport was "generous."
THESE; are some of the points made by speakers at •the Road Haulage Association's annual luncheon in London, last week, which was attended by about 400 people, including a large number of distinguished guests. Mr. Alfred Barnes. Minister of Transport, was the guest of honour.
Referring to the regulations which he had made as a preliminary to the nationalization of long-distance road haulage, Mr. Barnes said: " In making regulations, the Minister is under no statutory obligation to consult anyone, but, as you know, I have made a point of consulting the Road Haulage Associatioa from the start, and have gone some way towards meeting the views of the Association, notably with regard to the timetable to be observed.
"The regulations just issued set a time limit for the serving of notices on undertakings to be acquired. In effect, they require all notices to be served between October of this year and the end of 1949.
"The appointed day, when restrictions on the long-distance carriage of goods for hire or reward come into force, will not be fixed until the Minister is advised by the Commission that it can carry the traffic, and the necessary machinery exists for the issue of permits for authority to run outside the 25-mile
radius. If one may hazard a guess, this stage will not be reached until some time next year.
"Meanwhile, regulations have been made fixing the operating centres from which the 25-mile radius will be reckoned. Normally that centre will be as specified in the application for carriers' licences, but, to allow for exceptional cases, the regulations have been drawn to give as much flexibility as possible," he added. Mr. Barnes said that he knew he laid himself open to criticism when he invited Mr. H. T. Dutfield to serve as a part-time member of the Road Transport Executive, and that Mr. Dutfield would be placed in a difficult position. He was, however, extremely anxious that Mr. Dutfield's services should be available to the Executive He declared that about 125,000 of the '160,000 Aand B-licensees would not be affected by the Transport Act. Whether transport was State-controlled or privately owned, it was an overhead charge on the whole of British industry, and the level of its charges must fit into that of the prices of goods for export.
The railways must be sustained for military purposes and to serve industry in times of peace. He had endeavoured to secure co-ordination on the broadest basis under a political programme.
A Fine Achievement
Mr. Barnes revealed for the first time that during a week in the peak period of the winter of 1947, road vehicles carried 430,000 tons of coal, and that in the 26 weeks ended April 26, 1947, they handled 9,892.000 tons.
*He also spoke of the increase of pilfering in all branches of transport, and called for an immediate tighteningup in the character of the people.
Mr. B. G. Turner, chairman of the 'Association, pointed out that Mr. Barnes had occupied the office of Minister of Transport for a longer term than any of his 15 predecessors, except Mr. Wilfrid Ashley and Lord Leathers.
He thought that the Ministry and the industry had not, so far, managed to impress sufficiently on those in charge of the country's affairs, the importance of transport in the life of the Nation. He hoped that, with the help of the British Transport Commission, greater success in this direction would be achieved, and that in the future Ministers of Transport would be granted Cabinet rank.
Pointing out that the Association's membership exceeded 18,600, Mr. Turner commented: "How far the Government's policy of nationalization has contributed to this remains a matter of conjecture."
A Model from Cornwall
He suggested that the recent arrangement reached in the Penzance area for the delivery of new potatoes by road and rail was a good model for use in solving other transport problems. ' • The Road-Rail Conference and RoadRail Negotiating Committees must not only continue, but should be strengthened by the inclusion of representatives of the Road Transport Executive.
Mr. H. T. Duffield spoke of the Minister's "generous" attitude towards the R.H.A. in the fight against nationalization, and pointed out that at no time had personalities entered into the question. At the end of the battle, the Minister had told the Association's representatives that he hoped that no umbrage had been taken. All the money contributed .to the fighting fund, said Mr. Dutfield, had been subscribed by members of the industry.
During the luncheon, presentations were made to Mr. Dutfield, and to Mr. G. W. Quick Smith, formerly secretary of the National Road Transport Federation, and now secretary and legal adviser to the Executive.