Matters of moment, March 1982

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Pre-Budget comment

We would not like to take sides in a debate as to which has been the more detrimental to the human race, the wheel, the i.c.-engine, or television. We would probably cast our vote for TV, for which increased licence-fees have been introduced to pay for running the BBC, or to reduce the losses which most large undertakings now suffer from. ITV, which we hope will one day put on its own F1 race-coverage, manages as many, and some think better programmes, by commercial methods.

The Government will be well advised not to increase car tax and petrol tax in the Budget, although we wouldn’t bet on it, especially as the Rail Strike will have to be paid for. Another waste of public money is paying for air-time on commercial TV channels to show that dramatic “belt-up” film. It is political lobbying, a softening-up before the hoped-for coup of compulsion to wear “safety”-harness, against which, however, there is still strong and influential opposition. Another source of revenue is the new licence-fees for legalised use of CB radio, although how a Government so concerned with the potential danger of moving motor-vehicles can condone one-handed driving while a CB microphone is in use is beyond logic. And so far as the “belt-up” film is concerned, what was the youth doing driving over a dangerous cross-roads at 20 m.p.h., anyway? Prevention is better than cure and it would be wiser to spend money on accident prevention, instead of publicising the obvious, especially with the Government intent on compulsion, which some experts think could be dangerous, due to ill-fitting belts, badly-designed harness (as underlined in an inquest on an 18-year-old girl killed by her “safety”-belt, and in certain unusual, but nevertheless possible, emergencies, with the “clunk-click” failing to release with a person’s weight on the harness, etc.) Money was behind the childish “sit-in” by the F1 drivers at Kyalami and the Government’s refusal to rescue Sir Freddie Laker, although it looks as if nearly as many jobs may be lost at Laker’s as were saved in Ireland while public finance was being poured into the De Lomas can company, not to mention the astronomical amounts of our money required to keep BL going in insolvency…

The increased postal-rates are another poor advertisement for the claim that the rate of inflation in coming down, and the Post Office might at least have deferred them until the Rail stoppage was/is resolved and deliveries normal again — as it is, to send a first-class letter costs more than the equal of the old 3/- but is handled by a service inferior to that prevailing in the days of the efficient Penny Post…

During national emergencies it is road-transport which enables the nation to function almost normally, without trains and other public services, basis cannot be subjected to further savage taxation without dire loss of efficiency. We hope the Chancellor will be man enough, and sensible enough, to recognise this in his Budget…

Rolls-Royce sales

Last month we gave prominence to Porsche’s recipe for success during the recession (the German company’s 1981 profit of approximately £2.35-million to last July equalled their 1980 figure, with 31,500 cars again delivered). Now means pleased to report that Rolls-Royce Motors did very well last year, with exports valued at 07-million, 26, more cars being sold overseas than in 1980, and the USA and Canada looking like being the best future R-R market. In the UK, 1,220 cars were sold, only a small drop in the 1980 figure in spite of the “worst economic recession that most of us have ever known”, said Mr George Fenn, RR’s Chief Group Executive. In the first full year of R-R Spirit and Spur and Bentley Mulsanne production these cars were well received in Australasia and Japan, as well as in the USA, and 325 more cars were made than in 1980.

Royal patronage

Royal patronage of motoring is nothing new. Two reigning British Monarchs were Patrons of the old Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is President-in-Chief of the BRDC, there have been Royal visits to are racing at Silverstone and elsewhere, and HM The Queen graciously permitted that great 1977 Drive-Past at Windsor of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars. The smaller Clubs can take heart from the accepted honorary membership of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother to the Ford V8 Pilot DC, and now the news that the Duke of Edinburgh has agreed to be an honorary life member of the Standard MC, His Royal Highness’s first car having been a 1934 Standard Nine purchased in Ceylon in 1940. What is more, when it was learned that the Club is hoping to locate the Duke’s old car, a letter from Buckingham Palace was received saying that it is thought to be somewhere in Colombo.