As a garage proprietor, an owner of a 1959 Bandersnatch 90 and a shareholder in a car manufacturing company, I can give your disgruntled readers who own disreputable old crocks—one can hardly call them automobiles when one owns a Bandersnatch 90—a number of excellent reasons for the statesmanlike move to put their vehicles through a roadworthiness test in October.
1. By judicious use of the test regulations, a couple of million old cars can be run off the roads in a peaceful, legal, constitutional manner. This is far better than the ruthless, totalitarian procedures which we rightly abhor in undemocratic countries.
2. An immense amount of potential waste of public money will be avoided. To wit:—
(a) The elimination of old cars will cost nothing, since their owners will be paying for the tests.
(b) Subsidies to keep the ill-treated, impoverished garage trade going in the national interest will be unnecessary, owing to the compulsory payments for tests and the entirely voluntary payments for repairs made by those who insist on trying to remain in the car-owning classes without the right incomes to do so. By employing garages to do the testing, not only will the tests be done quickly and very thoroughly, but the creation of a horde of expensive bureaucratic officials will be avoided.
(d) With the number of cars on the roads more than halved, and kept down by this annual pruning, there will be no need to spend public money on road improvement or parking spaces.
I can hardly believe that more than a very few of your readers, those probably in the pay of Moscow, will cavil at this tremendous saving of public money, which will leave all the more for the armaments which will in due course defend their democratic freedom or at any rate relieve them of all care for the future.
3. If you will allow me, I will point out more positive advantages, as follows:
(a) The presence, especially at week-ends, of swarms of lower-class families (i.e., those who cannot pay for new cars, let alone Bandersnatch 90s) in their slow, nasty little cars on the roads must discourage the better class (i.e., well heeled) tourists from America and the Continent. With the distinction of being the only country which has had the courtesy to offer clear roads unpolluted by ancient cars, our better class hoteliers and publicans should benefit from the fillip to the tourist trade.
(b) A certain number of those deprived of their old machines will at last be forced, by their wives or business interests, to buy new cars, to the benefit of our anxious but deserving car manufacturing companies and, of course, our notoriously impecunious hire-purchase financiers.
(c) The buses and railways are sure to benefit from an increased number of passengers.
(d)Walking is one of the most health-giving forms of exercise, so our life-insurance companies should benefit to a small but merited degree. Finally, no-one, I am sure, wants petrol rationing to come back. In view of the approaching necessity to hoard petrol for the coming war to preserve freedom and democracy, what more unobtrusive way is there, of reducing the consumption of petrol by those who use it mainly for mere pleasure, than politely forcing them to give up motoring?
4. True, there may be a reduction in motor insurance business. I am informed, however, that this class of insurance brings little in to insurance companies and they won’t miss losing it. There will also be a loss of revenue from licences and road tax. But what are Budgets for, if not to make up any deficit by suitable taxation? Without the expense of keeping cars, one-time owners will have all the more for the tax-gatherer.
I trust that, after reading the above, many of your readers will apologise in your columns for any unworthy suspicions they may have entertained, that the coming test was not instituted for the benefit of our great, free, democratic country.
I am, Yours, etc.,
[Here, then, is another view of the forthcoming compulsory vehicle tests. The latest news concerning them is that they are taking longer to organise than the Government expected and will not now commence next autumn. The Minister of Transport has blundered badly in permitting the various shades of the annum trade to carry out these futile tests. Meanwhile, we are sure our readers will assist him to get organised by boycotting those garages which have agreed to undertake vehicle testing for the Government, so that they are not troubled by having other work to do. The Minister might have done better to let the police check on the older cars but if he considers that his tests will do any good he should set up Government test-centres which will not see profit, beyond the compulsory fee, in checking over old cars. And at the same time will he do something about those cancer-fumes which every other diesel-engined heavy vehicle now emits, even those nothing like as old as the cars he thinks are so dangerous and unfit for service, many of these smoke-clouds being laid by Public Service vehicles.—ED.]