A Second Selection From a Large Number of Opinions Which Corroborate Our View That a Serious Injustice to Carriers Has Occurred Under Section 11 of the 1933 Act
WILL SUPPORT A SUITABLE AMENDMENT. I F an opportunity occurs, I would certainly support an amendment curtailing the railway companies' right's of objection, which are at present capable of abuse.
The difficulty in the Committee stage of the 1933 Bill was that the opposition to the Bill was confined to a small group of Government supporters (of whom I was one) and we could never carry any amendment if the Minister resisted it.
The whole case against the Bill was undermined by the Salter Conference, of which the less said the better.
. There is now a much larger group of M.P.s to watch road-transport interests, and I think that the present Minister is prepared to hold a more even balance be tween road and rail. poems C. M. GUY, M.P. Edinburgh.
A PROMISE OF HELP.
I WILL discuss the matter with some of my Parliamentary colleagues when Parliament resumes.
HERBERT G. WILLIAMS, M.P.
WORK FOR THE COMING SESSION?
REFERRING to the unexpected effect of an important section of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, I sympathize with you and hope it will be possible to put matters right during the coming Session.
J. A. LECKIE, M.P.
COMPEL UNSUCCESSFUL OBJECTORS TO PAY COSTS.
T HAVE read with much interest the article dealing I with the question of vexatious objections to applications for A and B licences. Not only is it clear, from the passages of the debate quoted in your article, that it was the intention of Parliament to limit objections to those providing adequate and suitable alternative transport; but it would seem to be only in accordance with natural justice that this should be so in respect of an Act apparently designed to co-ordinate the transport industry, rather than to subsidize the railways.
My experience in the traffic courts coincides with that of the writer of the article, in that in many cases the railway companies, when objecting, rely not on their own services which, as often as not, do not touch the places in question, but on those of other road hauliers in the locality who, themselves, have never objected, and are therefore to be taken not to resent th further competition proposed.
Whilst agreeing with the writer that some amendment of the law is a matter of pressing importanee. I have some doubt as to how far the desired object would be achieved by inserting the word " suitable "as suggested.
If this were done, it would still be necessary for the Licensing Authorities to decide how far it could be said that the objectors were providing suitable and comparable services, and at the trial of that issue applicants would probably have to be present at considerable trouble and expense.
Would not a better deterrent against frivolous objections be that Licensing Authorities should be given a discretion to compel unsuccessful objectors to pay at least part of the costs of the application?
N. A. J. COHEN, Barrister-at-Law.
c38 TELL THE PUBLIC BY POSTER.
I WOULD like to answer your correspondent "Trans
porter," who has stressed the necessity of obtaining the co-operation of the daily Press in exposing the grave wrong which I disclosed in these columns on January 24.
Only those who, like myself, have endeavoured to interest the national papers can appreciate the utter futility of trying to enlist their sympathy in aid of the road-transport industry. They simply are not interested, and there may be reasons for this which it is not desirable to enter into here.
It does appear to me, however, that hauliers are sadly neglecting an invaluable means for obtaining nation-wide publicity—their own lorries and vans While competing interests decorate their wagons with advice on "How to avoid that sinking feeling," why should not road-transport contractors also endeavour to "avoid that sinking feeling" by informing the public by means of simple and briefly worded posters that we, if not actually sinking, have been holed below the water line?
It would be a simple and comparatively inexpensive matter for the associations to issue to their members a series of posters to be changed monthly. Members could be asked to persuade non-members to exhibit copies. The following is just a rough suggestion of how one of these posters might be worded :— " Dear Public,—I now must have a licence to
cany your• goods. Should I want to serve you • better by buying a larger and better vehicle, I must seek permission from the Licensing Authority. I am almost sure to be opposed by the railway companies. My application is almost sure to be refused. IS THIS BRITISH? '5
It is hardly necessary to stress the enormous publicity of, say, 30,000 lorries and vans travelling the roads of the whole country and placarded in this manner.
EVEN THE AMENDMENT SUGGESTED WOULD BE INSUFFICIENT.
T HE article on the supposed Parliamentary blunder in Sec. 11 (2) of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933, is most interesting. I agree with the writer that the word " suitable " seems to have been inserted in the wrong place, and that it was intended to qualify the objector's facilities rather than the facilities in the district. On the other hand, it is doubtful, even if it had been inserted in the right place, whether it would have effectively barfed railway companies and operators generally from lodging objections to any extent.
It seems to me that criticism could much more usefully be directed to the ruling of the Appeal Tribunal in the case of L.N.E.R. and Burgess (23 Tr. Cases 147), affirmed in McLachlan and Morgan and Co. (23 Tr. Cases 243), that the burden of proving an objection does not lie on the objector, but the burden of disproving an objection lies on the applicant. This is such an extraordinary inversion of procedure that so long as it remains binding the suggested amendment of the section would be quite valueless.
A railway company would only have to assert in an objection that it was providing suitable facilities and the burden of disproving this assertion would then be added to the, already heavy, burdens at present laid upon an applicant. The objections would all continue to be lodged and would become still more difficult to contest. HUMPHREY COOKE, Area Secretary, Associated Road Operators. St. Austell.
THE ACT BENEFICIAL BUT THE INTERPRETATION UNSATISFACTORY.
LET me say at the start that I agree absolutely with the principle of regulation, and I think that in the long run the Road and Rail Traffic Act will be beneficial both to the transport industry and to trade in general. The administration and interpretation at it at present, however, leave much to be desired.
The loophole given to the railway companies by the unfortunate omission referred to in your article has been taken full advantage of, and many authorities seem afraid to use their undoubted powers of brushing aside trivial objections.
I feel that the method of publication is not as helpful to smooth working as it might be. I think that a notice in "Applications and Decisions" should always state definitely for what purpose an applicant requires a variation. The natural corollary of this, of course, is that an objector should state in his notice of objection the full grounds for it. The standard form should be used only as a guide, and objectors should be definitely encouraged to depart from it if their case can be made clearer thereby. There should he a primary sifting of objections by the authorities, with a view to curtailing the present appalling waste of time in court.
C. S. DUNBAR, Manager.
Birnaingham. (Red Arrow Deliveries, Ltd.) THE TRAFFIC ACTS MUST BE AMENDED.
THE omission of a very significant word, which was
the subject of special debate, is a matter of vital significance and it is, in the circumstances, difficult to believe that the "mistake " was no more than an omission.
My experience is that the Licensing Authorities do not uphold railway objections when suitable transport facilities are not proved. But the snag is the meaning of the word "suitable."
To any commercial man an article or service procurable at Ati would not be a suitable substitute for one equally satisfactory that can be obtained for £1, but in the case of transport the Licensing Authorities appear to ignore the question of price in assessing "suitability," indeed it is almost suicidal for an applicant for a licence to admit that he can do work more cheaply and render services at a lower price than those charged by the railway companies.
The reason seems to be a tacit approval of the idea that railways ought to be able to charge excessive rates for the carriage of some classes of goods so that they can carry others at uneconomic rates. Even if this were a sound practice, surely the proper way to co-ordinate all forms of transport would be for
schedules to be drawn up of minimum rates to be charged for haulage or carriage by any form of trans port (including transport by rail) and let the users of transport employ whichever suits them best. _ Road hauliers would welcome such a scheme, but the railway companies will not agree.
The reason must obviously be that the railways realize that modern transport by road is more convenient and more suitable in a very large proportion of cases. They are endeavouring to hide these facts and are using every effort to stifle the development of alternative methods of transport, because they consider this to be the only .method of forcing the public to use the railways.
All kind of specious arguments are being used by them to this end, but the public will not be fooled for ever, and it is inevitable in the long run that road transport must. be allowed to expand in the interests of the public, and roads made to accommodate the traffic. The pity is that, meantime, private enterprise is being killed by bureaucratic legislation.
It is hoped that the •general public will wake up in time to protect their own interests and to prevent either the railway companies or any government department from imposing their arbitrary wills to dictate to traders the method of transport they may use and the price they must pay for it.
If the trade of this country is to prosper it is essential that every form of transport be developed without discriminatory restriction, and this can be done only by the healthy competition of private enterprise.
The Acts need amending to secure this.
Reading. A. L. GUILMANT A.C.I,S.
• A VIEW THAT OBJECTORS ARE ALREADY LIMITED.
YOUR article in a recent issue, on the subject of Section 11 (2) of the Road and Rail Traffic Act. 1933, has created a considerable amount of interest in the East Midland Area. The subject has a particular interest for me personally when dealing with the numerous applications by members of this Association.
Whilst appreciating to the full the writer's feelings on the question of railway objections, I must say that I am not altogether in agreement with the article. It seems to me that the insertion of the word " suitable " in 'front of the word "facilities " would not have resalted in a diminution of objections. The only benefit to the haulier would have been to compel the railway company immediately to prove that its facilities were in fact "suitable."