HC Deb 10 March 1943 vol 387 cc656-8
43. Mr. Burden

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport what controls as to direction and employment are now exercised over road transport undertakings by his Department?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (Mr. Noel-Baker)

A general control is exercised over road transport through the system of carriers' defence permits and the issue of motor fuel rations. In addition, the new Road Haulage Organisation now coming into operation will take over the direct control of long-distance traffic and of the vehicles by which that traffic was previously carried.

Mr. Ridley

Will the Minister consider the possibility of issuing a statement which will describe the scope, conditions and terms of the existing road control?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Several statements have already been issued, but I will certainly consider the suggestion of my hon. Friend.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Is this the same Controller who authorises the use of vehicles to convey flowers, which actually means petrol, oil and labour? Does this actually mean one and the same person and that he is the person responsible for the authorities which were given in recent weeks?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir; I am answering another Question on that subject a little later.

44 and 58. Mr. Burden

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (1) how many road vehicles have been licensed in the separate categories of A, B and C;

(2) how many persons now separately own road vehicles with either A or B licences?

Mr. Noel-Baker

The latest available figures which show separately the numbers of A, B and C licences, and the numbers of vehicles authorised under these licences, relate to the year 1938. If it would be of use to him, I will furnish my hon. Friend privately with the total number of goods vehicles now in use and with some general information about the classes of work on which they are engaged.

61. Mr. Ridley

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport, what further steps are being taken to organise road transport so that it will play a more effective part in the war effort; and whether the necessity for doing this is being considered, especially in relation to the heavy call which is expected will be made on transport undertakings in the course of the current year?

Mr. Noel-Baker

My Noble Friend announced last November his intention to control long-distance road transport in order to ensure economy in the consumption of motor fuel and tyres, while at the same time maintaining a supply of transport immediately available to meet any increased demand or any emergency that may arise. The necessary organisation is now being set up. Some haulage firms have, by agreement, already become controlled undertakings and many others have made known their intention to do so. These controlled undertakings will provide the necessary facilities for the operating units, which will form the basis of the organisation. Already some nucleus units are in existence, and it will shortly be possible to proceed with arrangements for the hiring of the vehicles of other hauliers, provided these vehicles have been previously engaged wholly or mainly in the conveyance of the traffic which is to come under control.

Mr. Ridley

Does either my hon. Friend or his Noble Friend take the view that when these rearrangements are completed we shall have reached a satisfactory position in road transport organisation?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I must remind my hon. Friend that we are working under difficult conditions, because our major objective now is to save petrol and rubber.

Mr. David Grenfell

In view of my hon. Friend's statement that the over-riding consideration is economy in the use of fuel and tyres, will he see that his Department does not encourage any diversion of transport facilities from the electric railways to road transport?

Mr. Noel-Baker

That consideration is constantly in our minds.

Major Lyons

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say, broadly, whether the proposals of this scheme have met with general welcome or general hostility from the road transport organisations?

Mr. Noel-Baker

The road haulage industry is not well organised, and it is difficult to say what meets with their general approval, but a large number of the undertakings which have been invited to become controlled undertakings are accepting that invitation.

Captain Strickland

Can the hon. Gentleman say what proportion of the road transport undertakings have come into the scheme?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will put that Question down. I can say, however, that it is a high proportion.