Matters Of Moment, January 1957

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Oats Still Uunrationed

Motor Sport is not a political journal, so we cannot be expected to discourse intelligently about the Suez situation, the inflation or deflation of the pound and the ranting of politicians.

The rationing of petrol, however, calls for some comment, and even more so the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Harold Macmillan, in savagely and immediately raising the petrol tax on December 5th from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. a gallon. Not content with this, Mr. Macmillan, in spite of stating earlier that he would take steps to control the price of petrol, allowed the petrol companies to impose another 5d. a gallon, so that overnight an increase of 1s. 5d. a gallon went on to all grades of petrol.

No doubt this will benefit the Government in various ways. Petrol will he conserved, congestion on our inadequate roads will no longer be so apparent, and, under the law of averages, road accidents will decrease. Whether the looked-for stability of revenue will be realised is another matter, for the greatly inflated cost of motoring will put many vehicles off the road for the early months of this tarnished New Year, while the S.M.M.T. was quick to point out that the increase in petrol price and tax will kill sales of new cars and have a very detrimental effect on the British Motor Industry and those employed therein. The used-car trade will be in a severe plight. And a weekly motoring contemporary even remarks quite seriously that petrol will do good for British Railways by demonstrating “to new customers and others who had deserted them” but will now be compelled to use them, “the improvements which have been made”!

The increased cost of motor fuel will affect every citizen in this country, by way of higher fares, higher freight charges and inflated cost of living generally, unemployment and probably strikes for further wage increases.

Once again it is obvious that the Government of this country has no use for private motoring; indeed, the Minister of Transport said as much in a recent speech on road planning. All who use their cars solely in the criminal pursuit of pleasure would be well advised to cease buying ridiculously-expensive petrol and paying the savage tax on their cars, in acknowledgement of the Chancellor’s unwelcome Christmas present to motorists. They might also inquire what the R.A.C. and A.A. are doing on their behalf . . .  

For years motorists have seen the price of petrol going up, but never coming down. We would like to know what prospects there are of petrol tax and petrol prices decreasing when the present crisis is over and why, if the Government was so urgently in need of extra revenue last month, it didn’t spread the burden over other taxpayers instead of settling it so heavily on the shoulders of a section of the population already weary from rationing and high prices, to the ultimate deterioration of the country as a whole? Perhaps, however, we are unjustified in our criticism – as far as we know, oats are still unrationed.

Patriotism

Although we know as little about boxing as we do of politics, before Dick Richardson of Wales retired after eight rounds at Harringay on December 4th we hoped sincerely that he would defeat Nino Valdes of Cuba, a hope which the spectators obviously shared. We have nothing against Valdes and we imagine that had the match taken place in Cuba the cheers of encouragement for the Cuban would have been louder than those for Richardson. But we are British, so naturally we wanted Britain to win.

It was the same at Reims last summer. When Harry Schell got the green Vanwall amongst the three red Ferraris and drove temporarily into second place in the French Grand Prix we, in company with the English spectators in the grandstand enclosures and Press box, rose to cheer. The carefully kept lap charts of the British journalists went to blazes – we believe that the Motor Sport reporter just kept his, but only due to long experience! – as they leapt to their feet to urge Schell on. He didn’t win, but it was magnificent while it lasted.

That British car which went so well at Reims was driven by an American. Let us hope that this may prove prophetic when applied to the prevailing unhappy Anglo-American political situation!

No Monte Carlo Rally

As we close for press we learn that the Monte Carlo Rally has been cancelled. Details of those club fixtures that remain unaffected by the prevailing situation are given overleaf but, naturally, all the long-distance competitions, including the M.C.C. Exeter Trial and V.S.C.C. Measham Rally, have been abandoned.

The editor and staff of Motor Sport wish you as happy a new year as possible under the present circumstances.

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