asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, seeing that membership of the new Government scheme is voluntary, he can give an assurance that adequate operational facilities and reasonable supplies are afforded to those operators who choose not to join; and that no indirect measures are taken to jeopardise their respective businesses?
The purpose of the Road Haulage Scheme is to secure the greatest practicable economy in the use and mileage of haulage vehicles. With this in view, the Government intend that all long-distance traffic shall be carried in vehicles working under the Scheme. As I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend will recognise, hauliers who take part in the Scheme are guaranteed substantial rights in return for their acceptance of certain obligations. It would be wholly inconsistent with the object of the Scheme to assure hauliers who decline to take part in it that they will nevertheless receive facilities and supplies for carrying long-distance traffic outside the Scheme, and I regret that I can give no such assurance.
Does the hon. Gentleman, realise that if this is in fact a voluntary Scheme for the industry, it seems really all nonsense to say to those operators who do not join the bureaucracy that by threatening to withdraw supplies they will be forced out of business? They have been given an option and now is compulsion brought in by threat of extinction?
I can only remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the necessity to save rubber and petrol and therefore to curtail road mileage is imperative.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport the numbers of divisional road officers and area road officers, respectively, now existing; whether, and to what extent, each of these numbers has been increased this year to date; and what are their salaries and duties, respectively?
There are now 12 divisional road haulage officers and 48 area road haulage officers. Last year the numbers were 6 and 14. Divisional road haulage officers control the road haulage organisation within their divisions. Four of them are unpaid; the other eight receive £950 a year. Area road haulage officers control the road haulage units in their areas which deal with long-distance traffic; they also arrange the movement of Government traffic for shorter distances. They are paid from £100 to £750 a year, according to the scale and the responsibility of their work.
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the ultimate distribution and control both of material and in operative route remain in the hands of the Regional Traffic Commissioners and their many assistants, and in these circumstances are not many of these appointments quite unnecessary.
I do not accept the suggestion for a moment.
Will the hon. Gentleman consider whether such long answers are really necessary?
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the diversion of load-carrying from roads to rail that results from the new Government haulage scheme, he has had adequate consultation with the main railways as to their capacity to receive such traffic; and whether he has received their assurances accordingly?
No traffic will be diverted to rail or to any other form of transport without consultation to ensure that it can be carried.
Is it a fact that this Scheme was put into operation without a single consultation with the railway companies on their capacity to carry?
Of course, we control the railway companies and we know what their capacity is.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether his attention has been called to the fact that the small lorry-driver is greatly prejudiced by the regulation that he is forbidden to deliver parcels under the weight of 16 lbs., while the wholesaler is under no such restrictions; and will he arrange to treat all alike?
I am not sure what regulation my hon. Friend has in mind, but if he will let me have particulars, I shall be happy to look into the matter.