I like this. A skit on the Town & Country Planning Act. Substitute car & lorry with house.
The Car and Lorry Planning Act of 1948
In 1947, a Town and Country Planning Act was passed. Since towns
were now to be properly planned, and their means of transport were now
publicly owned and properly controlled, it was argued that the production
and distribution of motor vehicles should also be planned and controlled,
and this was achieved with the Car and Lorry Planning Act of
The Act set up a system under which the production of cars was
planned on the basis of past ownership patterns and no more than this number
were allowed to be produced. No vehicles were allowed to be imported, and
anyone wishing to order a new car had to wait until a manufacturer had
obtained production permission from the local authority on their behalf.
The application was considered by the local transport planners and by the
local transport planning committee, which could refuse or grant permission.
To make the system democratic, people could write in to say why someone
should not get permission. Often the objection was based on the fact that
the objector did not have a car and did not see why his neighbour should
have one. Such people were called NIDDIES from the acronym NIDHI (Not If I
Don't Have It).
As incomes rose and the population increased the
demand for cars increased, but the number of cars permitted to be produced
did not increase to the same extent. It was felt that allowing more cars
would create unfair competition for bus and rail.
The price of cars
rose substantially. It was argued by some that this was because of the
constraint on production, but the transport planners thought that this was
not so. The constraint on production did not affect the price; the increase
in price was solely caused by the increase in demand caused by things like
lower interest rates, so they said. And anyway car prices were not their
concern. They were concerned with the real economy. It was for them to plan
and for the market to follow.
People adjusted to the situation of course.
They drove their old cars as long as possible. Indeed it was rare for a car
in Britain to be scrapped if there was any possibility that it could be
repaired. After road accidents cars were reconstructed which would have been
written off as scrap elsewhere. Tourists visiting Britain were often
overwhelmed with nostalgia when they discovered car models they had not seen
for years in their own countries.
They also adjusted to the increase
in the price of cars. People who had cars discovered that far from
depreciating in value the price actually increased
over time. This increased
the demand further as people without a car felt that they had to get a foot
on the ownership ladder. Banks were willing to lend money on the security of
the vehicle. Of course, as car prices rose people who wanted to buy cars
found that they could not afford anything very large and so the cars built
and sold in Britain became much smaller than elsewhere. The transport
planners said that this showed that small cars were what people wanted in
Britain. The British were different from foreigners who wanted large cars.
Indeed, people had so much invested in their cars that they resisted any
relaxation in the control of production because this would result in their
cars losing value.
The justification for this came to be that the
limitation of car production was in the interests of global sustainability,
to reduce pollution and fuel usage. Some economists said that the stock of
old cars in Britain polluted far more and were far less fuel efficient than
the newer cars used elsewhere. But these critics were ignored, because after
all, they were merely economists and what did they know...