Road-transport Topics in Parliament
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'By Our' 'Special Parliamentary Correspondent
WHY PETROL ROSE IN PRICE.
AQUESTION was put to the Minister for Mines as to whether the increase of 2d, per gallon in the price of petrol was being retained by the Petroleum Board; or whether any proportion of it was being shared with the retailers.
It was explained, in reply, that the recent increase did not include any addition to the amount allowed to the retail garages. The principal reasons for the increase were a rise in the f.o.b. cost of petrol and higher freights, including the cost of war risks insurance.
PAYMENT FOR A.R.P. VEHICLES. I T was stated by Sir John Anderson, Home Secretary and Minister for Home Security, that advice had already been given to local authorities regarding the amounts which might be paid, on account, to owners of commercial and other vehicles taken for A.R.P. purposes, and that a further circular had since been issued on the subject of similar advance payments for private cars and motorcycles. So soon as final rates had been settled with the Minister of Transport, they would be notified to local authorities.
SINGLE VEHICLES NOT TO BE TAKEN.
THE Secretary of State for War, who has had repeated representations made to him that his officials should abstain from taking the single van owned by a small concern and instead draw on the vehicles of operators possessing fleets, states that now the pressure has lessened, orders have been given that such single vehicles are not to be taken.
£26 APPROVED LAMP MASK SUFFICIENT.
A CCORDING . to the Minister of PATransport, cost prohibited the marking of bollards, corners, and crossings by means of reflecting studs to assist drivers in the black-out. It would not help them more than the methods now adopted. He thought that, with the approved type of masked headlamp and the use of white paint, in accordance with the directions given to highway authorities, drivers exercising proper care should have no difficulty in picking out corners and crossings. Instructions had already been issued to local authorities regarding the suitable illumination of bollards.
MINISTER DEFENDS HAULIERS' INTERESTS.
THE suggestion was advanced by Sir George Jones that the hiring charges for lorries taken by the War Office and local authorities were so high that concerns, whose vehicles had been taken, were making net profits greatly in excess of their pre-war net profits. Notwithstanding this fact, he contended, the trade in question was striving to induce the Ministry of Transport to grant an increase of charges with retrospective effect.
He proposed that the Minister should take immediate steps to have an investigation by independent experts into the amount of such hiring charges and the net profit thereby made by the owners of such lorries.
Captain Wallace put the whole matter in a different perspective. The determination of the, hiring rates for vehicles, he explained, rested not with the Ministry of Transport, but with the hiring department or local authority. Hiring charges for requisitioned vehicles fell to be determined in accordance with the provisions, of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, Whilst the rates payable for vehicles hired under contract were for settlement by agreement between the contracting parties.
It was for the hiring department or local authority to take such steps as it might deem necessary.
FORTNIGHTLY RATIONING HANDICAPPING TRADE.
A STATEMENT on the attitude of ./-1. the Ministry towards petrol rationing and long-distance road transport was elicited from Captain Wallace when he was asked if he were aware of the serious effect on business of being able to plan for only a fortnight ahead under the existing fuel scheme.
A basic ration of fuel was issued in respect of every goods vehicle available for work. In addition, it was open to the operators, through their group organisers, to apply in advance for supplementary rations. These applications were examined in the light of the urgency and essential nature of the work to be done, and with reference to the existence and suitability of alternative means for transport.
The extent to which the applications could be granted was necessarily governed by the amount of fuel which was available, Rationing for commercial vehicles had only recently been put on a fortnightly instead of a weekly basis.