The granting of road powers to Britain's railway companies was the subject of heated debate and several government inquiries during the 1920s and 1930s.1 No one denied the railway companies the right to undertake road services which were complementary to their railway operations and several of them, the Great Western in particular, had been running such services since before the war. The test, broadly speaking, was whether traffic commenced or terminated its journey by rail. For such traffic reasonable feeder and delivery road services, which might extend to operations ranging widely from central railheads, were accepted as lying within the companies' statutory powers. Opinions differed sharply, however, as to whether the railway companies already possessed, or should receive, the right to convey traffic which at no stage passed over their rails. The railway companies maintained that to deny them road powers was discriminatory and effectively prevented them from earning a fair return on their capital: road transport interests insisted that the railway companies should confine themselves to railway operations and that the railway companies' purpose was not to build up road transport, as they had done, to the great benefit of the economy and society, but to shackle, if not destroy it, and thereby preserve, indirectly, a control of passenger and goods traffic which they had failed to maintain by open competition.