11 NOVEMBER 1932, Page 28

Current Literature

BACK TO THE COAL STANDARD By Captain Bernard Acworth

Our coal industry would benefit if the drift from coal to oil could be checked. But it may be questioned whether in his Back to the Coal Standard (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 8s. 6d.) Captain Bernard Acworth has put the case for coal in the most effective way. He has too many pet aversions—Socialism, the late Lord Fisher, the Diesel engine, the electrical " grid," the oil ring," and so on—and, in denouncing them, wastes space that could be better used in developing his technical and economic arguments for the superiority of coal to oil. Captain Acworth holds that the desire for speed has led to much wasteful expenditure, both on land and sea, that fast motor vehicles do not save time because they lead to traffic conges- tion, and that fast warships seldom serve a useful purpose. He would force much of the heavy traffic back from the road to the railway, and he would favour the electric tram rather than the motor-omnibus. A dictator might do all the things that. Captain Acworth wants to have done, but the British public could not now be persuaded that it is wrong to prefer the omnibus to the tram or the motor-coach to the train. There is much good sense in the author's contention that we might make more profitable use of our railways, canals and coal-burning steamers, and that new methods are often uneconomic. But the coal industry has more to gain by improving its methods, as Sir Hugo Hirst said the other day than by denouncing its more alert competitors as Captain Acworth does in this unsatisfactory book.