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Road Transport (Economic Use)

Volume 395: debated on Wednesday 1 December 1943

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that on 5th November last a 16-ton waggon and trailer, No. 7 Q 10/16, was sent by his Department from Bristol to Cardiff empty to report to the A.R.H.O., Newport Road and that up to 13th November this vehicle travelled 408 miles empty and 378 miles partly loaded; and whether, in view of the wastage of petrol and rubber involved, he will take steps to see that road transport is more economically employed under existing Government control?

Vehicle 7 Q 10/16 is a seven-ton vehicle with a six-ton trailer. It was sent to South Wales to carry urgent and essential traffic for which local transport was not available. It was there engaged in delivering cement to various points, at none of which back loads were available. Every load it carried was of ten tons, this being the maximum weight which its mechanical condition made it safe for it to take. In view of these facts, I cannot agree with my hon. and gallant Friend that the vehicle was wastefully used.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the scandalous misuse of road transport generally—the case I have introduced is only one of many hundreds—and of the enormous distances that unloaded vehicles are sent, with great wastage of petrol and tyres at this time?

This vehicle was sent, with many others, to deal with a particular emergency in South Wales and, taken as a whole, I think the job that was done in that emergency was a very good one. In such cases the loading must be unbalanced, and there must be some empty running, but if my hon. and gallant Friend will send any other special cases I will look into them, and I think the answer will be as satisfactory as I venture to think my answer in this case has been.

Will the hon. Gentleman consider setting up an inquiry into this case, which was a scandal?

I cannot admit at all that it is a scandal, but I will look into any particular cases that my hon. and gallant Friend cares to send me.

What steps were taken by the hon. Gentleman to ascertain the facts?