Matters of moment, September 1966


Apparently because those who, rightly or wrongly, motor to pubs to drink made sufficient fuss, Mrs. Castle seems to have abandoned breathalysers. But the 70-limit remains, penalising the minority of experienced, skilled drivers, while the large majority, who obviously couldn’t care less and by some mystically-acquired statistics are alleged to agree with the restriction, continue on their accident-prone way.

In the long run this restriction may well do Britain untold harm— supposing, for instance, that the B.M.C. should decide to discontinue the so-export-worthy Jaguar E-type, loss of Home sales and Mrs. Castle could provide the excuse… . America, land of large, unstable, brake-fade automobiles, has a 70-limit which, although far from reducing road accidents, makes such comparatively-lethal machines tenable—so if crowds jam American car stands at next month’s London Motor Show, eager to buy cars now appearing safe for Mrs. Castle’s Go-Slow Britain, where will lie the blame, at a time when imports should decrease and our engineers and our country should be reaping the benefit of cars safe at speeds suited to modern roads and Motorways?

We are well aware of the scorn directed at those who regard as praiseworthy “any country but their own,” but a country must maintain fair government and respected laws if it is to retain the continuing loyal patriotism of its citizens.

Every sympathy is rightly shown to the dependants of the shot policemen; which might be coupled with some thought tor those who have suffered at the hands of murderers and robbers still at large. With such violent crime on the increase, the police need, and readily ask and accept, the assistance of all decent citizens. Most law-abiding Britons are motorists but become the largest section of the “criminal” population as soon as they venture out of the garage, according to recent statistics of Court proceedings. Isn’t it a terrible case of mis-management and contemptuous laws when last year 1,264,338 drivers were prosecuted and 875,625 mainly-minor offenders, as motorists, paid over £5.8-million in fines and when 1 in 17 of us goes in danger of receiving a motoring summons within the year—the majority virtually unharmful and unnoticeable to anyone but the police: who should regard the great majority of drivers as their allies?

At the present time it seems more than ever sickening to see able-bodied uniformed men setting up radar traps and prowling the yellow lines in deserted streets. Yet hark to the news of a zealous Berkshire Police Inspector who brought a successful prosecution (with fine) against a partially-paralysed widow. merely because she was carrying two infants on the back shelf of her invalid carriage—when dolly-danglers, sticker-addicts and the rest go free—and note that Mrs. Castle is now turning her attention to tuning-kits and whether they should be permitted on ordinary saloon cars in going-ever-slower Britain. . . . Yet what apathy sporting motorists and the Motor Industry display in speeding things up again!


We have received the following cornments, on which it would be interesting to have an answer :—

“The Monopolies Commission recommendations and attitude frankly surprise me. Surely the purpose of the Commission is to prevent bodies— other than governmental, becoming monopolies in their field, thus allowing the public no freedom of choice.”

“There is, however, freedom of choice in the petrol and oil market, and it appears to me that the result of the Commission’s recommendations for the petrol market will be to freeze those sales and distribution levels already held. The larger oil concerns will hold their share of the market indefinitely, secure in the knowledge that their competitors—large or small—can make no noticeable inroads into their position. The smaller competitors, however, will now be unable to increase distribution at all, unless financially impractical terms be offered to holders of freehold and untied sites. This, surely, is in complete disagreement with the aims of the Monopolies Commission?

“Further, I consider it a misuse of both business ethics, and the English language, when the Board of Trade asks for Petrol Suppliers to sign voluntary undertakings, and when one company, Total Oil Products, quite rightly in my opinion, refuses to sign their virtual death warrant, has the pleasure of being instantly served with a statutory order. Hardly voluntary? “