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Government legislation

Conservative legislation

The Conservative government elected in 1951 set about reversing this situation. Transport charges, a measure already considered under Labour, were immediately increased. The Conservatives aimed to denationalise road haulage and deregulate by, for example, removing distance limits on 'A' licences. The licensing of public transport by road was also liberalised. The Transport Act of 1953 provided for liberalised licensing, enabling easier entry to the industry and the sale of vehicles purchased under nationalisation. The act also abolished the 25-mile limit.

In 1963, the Conservative government set up the Geddes Committee to investigate road haulage and licensing. Reporting in 1965, the Committee recommended the abolition of licensing because it had failed to achieve integration of the freight haulage system, increase use of railways, or improve road safety. By then, however, Harold Wilson's Labour Party was in power and found the Geddes Report irrelevant to the goal of an integrated transport system, and initiated further studies on transport policy.

Labour legislation

The transport policy of Wilson's Labour government was elaborated in a White Paper of 1966. The problems of freight haulage were considered more specifically in a White Paper of 1967. Licensing and competition, integration of freight services by rail and road, and the dangers posed by ever-increasing numbers of heavy good vehicles on the roads were discussed.

Accordingly, the Transport Act of 1968 passed state-controlled rail haulage to a new National Freight Corporation, which was also responsible for carrying freight by rail. Smaller vehicles were exempted from special licensing requirements, while licences for large vehicles were granted not because services already existed, but according to criteria of competence, safety and finance. Those carrying goods over 100 miles and bulk goods, such as coal, would require 'quantity' licences. This enabled the National Freight Corporation to divert bulk freight to the railways.