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Transport Bill Passes Third Reading A MOTION by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe that the Transport Bill should he

9th May 1947, Page 27
9th May 1947
Page 27
Page 27, 9th May 1947 — Transport Bill Passes Third Reading A MOTION by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe that the Transport Bill should he
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rejected was defeated by 308 votes to 194 in the House of Commons on Monday. The Bill passed Third Reading and will now go to the House of Lords. In the closing speech for the Conservatives, Mr. Oliver Poole held out a hope that, when the present Government has been removed, at least some of the provisions of the Bill might be reversed.

Mr. A. Barnes, Minister of Transport, submitting the Bill for Third Reading, said that about 34,000 lorries would pass into the hands of the Commission. Staff employed by controlled undertakings numbered about 692,000. He said he wished to dispose of a silly criticism as to the great number of amendments involved in the Bill. Consultation on practical measures was bound to lead to improvement.

When the evening's proceedings were finished, 1271 hours would have been devoted to consideration of the Bill. The average citizen would say that this was plenty of time.

Discussion Inadequate Vice-Admiral Taylor asked, As about half the Bill was not discussed at all, does that not show that the time allocated was quite inadequate?"

Mr. Barnes suggested that it showed that the Opposition was determined to ensure that some parts were not discussed. He was accused of making a charge of obstruction, by Mr. Quintin Hogg, but the Speaker pointed out that a charge of obstruction was not out of order in any case, Commenting on criticisms of the constitution of the Commission, Mr. Barnes said it might be of interest to point out that the total number of main line railway directors was 75. The Commission and Executive would total only 45.

The whole of the problems surrounding the acquisition of the road haulage undertakings, said the Minister, had been grossly exaggerated.

34,000 Lorries Affected Quoting figures referring to this natter, he said that 34,000 lorries, including 11.000 railway vehicles, were brought within the scope of the Bill, for compulsory transfer. There remained 100,000 under A and B licences, and 380,000 under C licences, outside the provisions.

He did not expect that there would be much displacement of labour as a result of the Bill. Rather, he looked forward to a large expansion of transport services and a better utilization of the existing labour force. He hoped that when the control agreement ended on December 31 the B.T.C. would on the next day take over these vital services in the interest of the community.

Sir David Maxwell Fyfe moved that the reading should be taken in six months' time. He said that the planning authority under the Bill would be hamstrung. It could not appoint its own agents. He accepted the intentions of the Government to evolve a good working corporation, but one so dom

inated by Ministerial powers, so weak in its inability to control its own agents, did not give nationalization a chance.

The Minister should beware lest he was unable to see local needs because of his centralizing blinkers. All over the country there was a feeling that local needs were being disregarded.

Sir David Maxwell Fyfe said it was ridiculous to expect those who had to consider a Bill of 127 clauses and 13 schedules to limit the time to two months. Was it really to be said that after years of fighting against, the destruction of democratic working and ideals, the Mother of Parliaments was not prepared to give up a summer holiday so that such an important matter should be fully discussed?

"I regret that it was not found possible to take over the large passengercarrying concerns . . in the same way as we are taking over the large road haulage undertakings," said Mr. Ernest Davies. The Bill would succeed or fail, he added, according to the extent to which the Minister used the powers given to him.

Sir Arthur Salter said that no Bill had ever been submitted which had required so much full Parliamentary examination and revision, and, in relation to its need, had received so little.

Freedom Illusory Claiming that the Bill was a good one, Mr. Haworth said that people realized that road transport should be regulated. The so-called freedom did not exist, because the larger combines had been eating up the smaller concerns all the time.

Opposing the motion, Mr. Quintin Hogg suggested that the Minister felt that the public was anxious to see results from the Government after two years and it must bundle through legislation in order to give the impression that something was being done. He did not think there was an adequate reason for abolishing Parliamentary democracy in this country. Mr. Hogg said that as regards road transport, he confidently predicted that before long an anti-Socialist majority in the House would abolish the State monopoly which they were in process of erecting.

Mr. Jay said the Bill set up a unified system such as was recommended by nearly all experts.

We on this side of the House are perfectly happy about the Bill as far as it goes. We have a few misgivings on the question of C licences, and I hope the Minister will have a careful look at that question," said Mr. Proctor. Stating that the amalgamation of transport authorities had been difficult in the past, Mr. E. Porter said that the position was now reversed. Municipalities, under the Association of Municipal Corporations, were trying to ,work out areas which they thought would be satisfactory if the present Minister would withdraw the Bill.

18,000 P.O. Vehicles Mr. Porter said that irrespective of party, the Government of the Country controlled the largest haulage system in the world. At the present time, the returns showed that the Post Office controlled 18,000 vehicles. It took the trouble to call on any person who desired its services and daily would pick up 50 or more parcels free. It had been a complete :5ticcess even with Tory administration.

Mentioning the Royal visit to South Africa, he said that that country could not be said to have a Labour Government, yet it had decided to nationalize electricity, the docks, harbours, lighthouses, and road and rail transport.

Brigadier Peto said he proposed to vote against the Bill for four reasons. First, it increased bureaucracy, which entailed delays; secondly, it was not flexible, and Was too restrictive in mileage; thirdly, he would vote against the Bill because he was denied the right to express his views and, fourthly, the time was entirely inopportune for introducing a measure of this kind.

Basis Unsound However much the Government had amended this Bill, said Mr. Oliver Poole, the measure was and could only be one which the Conservative Party would heartily oppose. The provisions of the Bill had not yet been properly considered. It was inadequate, illconceived and based on unsound principles.

Was ever such shuffling and shambling machinery devised? Some 2,800 hauliers were. to be deprived of their businesses by the Bill, for no other reason than that they had built up and , developed themselves as highly efficient competitors, against which no nationalized State railway service could possibly compete.

Mr. Poole would vote against the Bill with intense bitterness and looked forward to some distant date on which some, if not all, the-provisions might be reversed. •

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