Call our Sales Team on 0208 912 2120

Have M.O.W.T. Haulage By Complaints Been Justified . ? "Tantalus " Comments

7th April 1944, Page 21
7th April 1944
Page 21
Page 21, 7th April 1944 — Have M.O.W.T. Haulage By Complaints Been Justified . ? "Tantalus " Comments
Noticed an error?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.

Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Upon Certain Aspects of the Recent Report From the Select Committee on National Expenditure QS They Affect the Road ,Haulage Industry and Its Economics

TIROM official quarters it has been suggested that criticisms regarding the Government Road Haulage

Organization, which have been heard in increasing volume in the House of Commons and elsewhere, have, in the main, been unfounded or exaggerated. It is maintained that the standard of efficiency is not so low as has been suggested and that the assertions made to the effect that the scheme is not fulfilling the objectives have not been proved. The complaints which have been most pronounced, it is argued, have originated from a factious few and, consequently, do not reflect a fair and accurate picture of the position as a whole.

The attitude in the House of Commons of Mr. P. J. NoelBaker, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry, has inclined to the view that those complaints brought to his notice at question time have had reference to isolated cases, rather than being general in character.

So the defence would seem to be that the Organization has not proved a failure but, on the contrary, has met the national needs as intended. It is evident, however, that as it grew in stature so did the Complaints and criticisms increase in number. This raises a straightforward issue as to whether the criticisms made regarding the efficiency and the economic operation of vehicles were justified, or whether the claims that the Scheme is a success can be supported by facts and experience. To this issue there is an answer complete in detail and comprehensive in character. It is contained in the Third Report for 1943-44 from the Select Committee on National Expenditure, which deals exclusively with rail and road transport.

At this juncture it should be emphasized that the Select Committee was appointed to examine the current expenditure defrayed out of monies provided by Parliament for the Defence Services, for Civil Defence and for others directly connected with the war, The Committee had to report what, if any, economies, consistent with the execution of the policy decided by the Government, may be effected therein.

The Report now under consideration is the 82nd in the series from the Select Committee, which body was originally set up in session 1939-40. From the foregoing it will be appreciated that the t ommittee is one of considerable importance and any recommendations which it makes are respected and carry considerable weight. All inquiries are carried out with a meticulous regard for accuracy and detail, in fact, they are thorough. This is borne out in all the Reports published, which cover a wide variety of subjects.

The conclusions arrived at, therefore, in respect of the Road Haulage Organization of the M.O.W.T., can be accepted as reliable and, moreover, they are fortified by independence of outlook.

Inquiries Commenced Last June It was in June of last year that the inquiries covering road and rail transport commenced, and the results are published in the particular Report under review. The first part deals with the railways and covers a decade prior to the war up to the present time. The subjects concerned are :—(a) The Railway Executive, (b) finance, (c) locomotives and wagons, (d) labour, (e) zoning, (f) thieving, and (g) conclusions.

There is no intention to examine the ahove. items in detail, as this article is concerned only with road transport: The comprehensive nature of the inquiry, however, will be readily appreciated. To members of the road-haulage industry the review is revealing and -educational.

The subject of road haulage is dealt with in Part 2 of the Report and .consists of 20 paragraphs, many of which are again divided into six or seven sub-sections. For the benefit of those operators who may not have an opportunity of reading the Report as a whole, it should be stated that • the items relative to the industry are dealt with under three main headings, viz.:—(a) Road Haulage Organization, (b) criticisms from the road-haulage industry (with seven subsections), and (c) discussion of evidence (with six cubsections), concluding with three recommendations.

Witnesses examined during the inquiry included responsible officers of the M.O.W.T. concerned with railway and road-transport control and administration (including finAnce) and representatives of hauliers' organizations.

In the opening sentenceof the Report the Committee removes all doubt as to why the Government Scheme was introduced. Under heading (a) it is stated with refreshing frankness that the aim was to conserve oil and rubber. The main principle was to make road haulage subsidiary to all other forms of goods transport whether by rail, canal " or sea.

As many vehicles as possible were to be withdrawn from the roads and those which remained were to he operated under the control of the M.O.W.T. This plain statement provides ample confirmation of the unwavering views expressed in the columns of " The Commercial Motor " during the initial stages of/ the Scheme.

The varying excuses which have been made from time to time and the red herrings which have been drawn across the trail are, therefore, proved fallacious.

Time and Vehicle Capacity Lost

A preliminary investigation was made by the Committee into the working of the control organization in its early stages. Further consideration, very wisely, was deferred until the Scheme had been in operation for some months. The result of the more-recent inquiries revealed that complaints were widespread and alleged that, under the control of the M.O.W.T., much valuable time was being lost. There were complaints of a heavy mileage of empty running, also that far too 'many journeys were made in which ,vehicles ran outwards with only part loads and returned empty. In this connection the Committee makes the observation that this state of affairs was one which had not prevailed previously: Such words do not require any interpretation The Committee records that criticisms and complaints were forthcoming 'a few months after the introduction of the Scheme. As time went on these increased rather than diminished and gave rise to many questionsin the House of Commons. A memorandum supplied by the Ministry is quoted in which it is laid down that the Scheme was designed to ensure th4:—

" (i) No traffics are conveyed by road which should be carried by some other form of transport in the interests of consultation of oil and rubber.

(ii) Such traffics as are conveyed by road are moved at the lowest possible cost in vehicle-miles by the use of the most suitable vehicle for the particular movement and by the elimination to the greatest possible degree of partially loaded and empty mileage.

(iii) All vehicles included in the organization are _ available to meet fluctuating demands and _emergencies."

Concerning these items the Committee makes the observation that it is particularly at the failure to reach any of these important aims that-the criticisms are levelled. It goes on further' to state that the Scheme, on paper, is well designed to perform the functions for which it was intended; but that, in practice, there is reason to doubt whether objectives (i) and (i1) have been 'attained. Only the reserve anticipated in (iii) has materialiied and, even here, the Committee is not convinced that it is being used as effectively as it should be.

comments powered by Disqus