Growing Influence of Committees of Action
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Lord Leathers and Mr. P. J. NoelBaker to be Invited to Luton to Investigate the Working of the Government Haulage Scheme in that Area
THAT the efficiency of road traneport is being seriously diminished, just. when it is' likely to be needed at full strength so that it can be used to maximum effect when the Second Front is opened, was the opinion expressed, and unanimously endorsed, at a wellattended meeting of road hauliers which took place at Luton, last week.
Themeeting was convened by Councillor P. R. Williams, of Luton, with the object of inaugurating, in the Eastern area, a Committee of Action similar to that in the West Midland Area. Several members Of the West Midland Committee of Action attended, including 'Messrs. Bouckley, Rutty, Bedworth and Mason.
• Mr. Bouckley explained that the Committee of Action, formed some eight weeks ago in his area, was designed to fight,the Government Road Haulage -Scheme, first, because it was detrimental to the Nation's war effort and, secondly, to enable hauliers to retain their goodwill in business, which, as things were, was fast disappearing.
As the result of the operation of this scheme, he said, the efficiency of road transport in this country was below 50 per cent., and' that at a time when 100 per cent, efficiency was urgently 'needed, Reaction of M.P.s
The method adopted by the committee was the constitutional one of taking action in Parliament by using the services of M.P.s Every member of the committee approaches the local M.P., interviews him, and states the case 'against the scheme. It had been found that the first reaction of every M.P. was to ask what support he was likely to get from other. members. It had been discovered that, whilst every M.P. knew of the scheme, very few, indeed, 'knew what it was all about. •
The modus operandi, therefore, was for each group of operators to educate their own M.P. as to the set-up and working of the scheme, afterwards feeding him with facts v;hich would serve as a basis for questions in the
House. By taking care that M.P.s were well acquainted with such details, would be to ensure that-Mr. Noel-Baker would not be able, in future, to gloss over the mistakes made by the Ministry in the administration of the scheme.
Having met with much success in the West Midlands, the committee in that area had decided to endeavour to make the movement a Nationwide one. It had, already, on January , 19, held a meeting in London. which.; was attended -by leading oneratoes from almost every Traffic Area. It Was then
resolved that: This meeting of hauliers should elect a Central Committee, representative of all users, to consider and recommend ways and means for fighting for the present and future pro.tection of the small haulier in this industry.
Delegates had already been appoin ted and the work was going ahead. An East Midland Committee of Action had been formed and others were pending. Subsequently, when the seed had been widely sown, it was intended to form a deputation to M.P.s. They had been advised, by a parliamentary agent, also to arrange for a deputation to the Government Committee on National Expenditure. This they proposed to do. He pointed out .that, unless the scheme be halted now, it was likely to go on for a minimum of two years. It had been stated that it would cease to operate not less than six months, but probably 12-months, after the cessation of hostilities with a major power. net might mean the end of the war, not with Germany, but with Japan.
Aim is Equality of Treatment What they were aiming at was equality of treatment throughout the industry. 'If there be equality, 90 per cent. of-the need for the scheme would cease to exist. Given equality now, would ensure that an would start level when peace came,
Mr. Rutty said that the scheme Was un-English. He recommended that every M.P. sheuld be presented with a, copy of the S.J.C. Memorandum on the Scherne, as presented to the Ministry.
Mr. Howes said that, in his view, the scheme had already collapsed. He said that he had kept out of it and had reaped the benefit. He , was better employed at good rates than he had been for some time, whereas 'fellow operators, who had their vehicles hired, were doing the same work as he was for only a pittance. He asked if the Minister was taking any steps whatever to investigate the working of the scheme and added that he was going to write and invite the Minister and Mr. Noel-Baker to investigate the workings at Luton.
• Mr. Howes felt sure that if Lord Leathers and Mr. Noel-Baker were to come to Luton for two days to see how the scheme was working, they would immediately call a halt. He pointed out, that when the H.N.T.P. and contract vehicles scheme eves dissolved, two days sufficed to finish it. Given the guidance of Sub-district Managers, Group Organizers, Regional Traffic Commissioners and their staffs, he thought that 24 hears would he enough for this schemes It was then resolved that a. sub-committee be formed, in the Luton area, to convene a meeting in the near future, in Cambridge, so as to form a full Committee of Action for the 'Eastern Area. .Members elected on the sub-committee were Messrs P. R. Williams, E. B. Howes, W. A. Hines, A. N. Rand and V. Durrant.