Mr. Hore Belisha's Successor Has His Work Cut Out
By ALEX G LEN A LA DA LE
Four matters of varying degrees of importance have come particularly to my notice since I last wrote. The first concerns Italy and is certainly the one that matters least, so to give bad logic a boost it shall come first.
Castor oil is to play a second great part in Italian domestic affairs. This particularly objectionably smelling fuel was first used by Mussolini to promote by coercion the adoption of fasckm -or so I have always understood. It was, they told me at the time, forced down the throats of dissenters, conscientious objectors, Communists, and the throats of many innocent people who were merely suspect.
It seems to have worked so well that it has now been decided to raise it to the dignity of mechanical, instead of merely human, lubrication. In shore Italian motorists and aviators hove been appealed to " appeal " may not be quite the right word—t0 Use castor oil for their engines.
In this way Italy, it is thought, will become independent of foreign mineral oil, for castor oil is produced within the Empire in as large a quantity as is needed. A factory which has been taken over by the Royal Aeronautical Society of Italy at Tripoli is the first experiment in this venture, and is able to produce four hundred tons of oil each month.
The Wicked Clause
The next matter is right on our own doorstep and is of major importance. The infamous Clause 95 of the Construction and Use Regulations which, as 1 explained in my last article, apparently gave powers to the police to test the brakes and steering of any car without even consulting the owner, is to be amended.
This is, in fact, the first time tha.t the worm (i.e., the motorist) has been given a. clear chance to turn. The Clause was so insufferable that it was withdrawn almost blushingly by Dr. Burgin, the new Minister of Transport, without more than a few words in its defence. More about him later.
The real motor legislation critics, the National Motor Journals, took the matter up pretty thoroughly. As a result some seventy-seven M.P.s addressed a petition to the King pleading for the amendment of the Clause.
A severe warning has been uttered to the responsible authorities which points out, in effect, that the Government, having so far taken all from the motorist in exchange for practically nothing, must realise that even Bills affecting such an unimportant portion of revenue-makers (motor-ear revenue amounts in the Budget to about £40.000,000) should be drafted with a degree of foresight.
Another " Leslie" The new Minister of Transport, the Rt. Hon. Leslie Burgin, LL.D., M.P., who tills the vacancy in Minister Row created by the removal of Mr. Leslie Hore 13elisha to the War Office, has had no previous experience of the national transport riddle. Up till now he has been Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. We know little of him, except that he shares a Christian name with his predecessor, has a, reputation for ability, and is well received as a public speaker.
What we all know, however, is that, criticise as we may and certainly shall do, We don't covet his new job.
The " Five-year Road Plan " and the " Trunk Road Scheme," those brain-children of Mr. Hore Belisha, will require some
little unravelling. Mr. N.B. may have known what he was doing in planting the seeds, for he was an able Minister, but in the meantime road policy seems to have become crossed with a parasite exchequer which won't allow it to grow.
Pedestrians' Plaint The last matter I have on my cuff is one that concerns Us both as pedestrians and
drivers of motor-cars. The Pedestrians' Associae ion has protested against the Report of the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (Sir Philip Game) which was issued at the height of Coronation festivities and was received, in consequence, without much study.
The P.A. complains that Sir Philip's estimate that 83.5 per cent. of accidents involving pedestrians is due to their own stupidity and carelessness is not based on sound statistics.
I can only gay that there is a point that will never be cleared up to the satisfaction of all classes of road usees.
A statement in the Commissioner's Report that might well be termed a truism is to my mind vital: " The roads today are more dangerous than ever." But of course they are, and as I see it it was the most completely wise sentence ever put on paper. It says THE ROADS are more dangerous, therefore let us not blame unduly the pedestrian or the motorist, but blame the real aggressor, destroy the menace, and reconstruct our roads so that only by an act of God is an accident possible.
We Share the Blame I .really do believe that to prevent accidents is possible only in theory. We can reduce their number, all of us, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, by being careful, but let it be remembered that the hurrying motorist is no more to blame for knocking down a sleep-walker than is the sleepwalker who sleeping may be the cause of a tragic accident such as the one of which I road not long ago when, on a busy main road, two cars fully loaded met in headon collision when one of them attempted to avoid a woman who, without looking, stepped in its path.
It is clear from this that the pedestrian's responsibility in lowering the accident rate in this category is many times greater than that of the motorist, for while a motorist in ari absent-minded moment may cause the death of a single pedestrian, a similar act on the part of the latter may involve several cars.