Page 5 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 1 - 5
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which will be before me; that then we should proceed to hear this evidence of the crew, and then evidence on the construction and equipment of the vessel, and then continue de die in diem as far as we can, having regard to what, I am afraid, must be some little time which must elapse before we can put all the evidence we desire before you. My Lord, there is another subject also into which we can inquire at an early moment. That would be the Board of Trade Rules and Regulations made under the Merchant Shipping Act for the preservation of life at sea, and indeed any regulations which are made under the Merchant Shipping Act, which are relevant to this Inquiry; we can go into that, and shall go into that at an early stage. I think, even now at this moment, we could deal with the questions which will be submitted by us to the Court. We submit those questions now, not as containing every question which it may be necessary to put; your Lordship has power, and there is power also in the Board of Trade, to supplement those questions at the end of the case which we are presenting to the Court; but they have been carefully considered, and I think it would be convenient if we just referred to them. I do not know whether it would be of any assistance (I will just do what your Lordship thinks fit) to refer to the sections of the Act of Parliament, and the Rules which have been made by the Lord Chancellor, in pursuance of the Act (they are very few) before I deal with the questions. My Lord, under the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 and dealing with Part VI., which relates to the special shipping inquiries and Courts, your Lordship will find first of all under Section 464 of the Statute 57 and 58 Victoria, Chapter 60, “a shipping casualty” is defined. It begins “a shipping casualty shall be deemed to occur”; the first four sub-sections refer to casualties on or near the coast of the United Kingdom, and we have nothing to do with those. Sub-sections 5 and 7, my Lord, you will consider. “When in any place any such loss” (that is the loss of a vessel), “abandonment, material damage or casualty as above mentioned occurs, and any Witness is found in the United Kingdom,” and under sub-section 7, “When any British ship is lost, or is supposed to have been lost and any evidence is obtainable in the United Kingdom as to the circumstances under which she proceeded to sea, or was last heard of.” Section 466 deals with a formal investigation. My Lord, you will observe from the statute that there are preliminary investigations and formal investigations, and of course this Inquiry would come under the formal investigation. Then, My Lord, under section 466, sub-section 1, “a person authorized as aforesaid to make a preliminary Inquiry shall in any case where it appears to him requisite or expedient that a formal investigation should be held, and in any case where the Board of Trade so directs, apply to a Court of Summary Jurisdiction to hold a formal investigation, and that Court shall thereupon hold the formal investigation.” Then under sub-section 2 “A wreck commissioner appointed under this act shall at the request of the Board of Trade hold any formal investigation into a shipping casualty under this section” - that is the one to which we have to pay particular attention. Then under sub-section 6, “The Court, after hearing the case shall make a report to the Board of Trade containing a full statement of the case and of the opinion of the Court thereon, accompanied by such report of or extracts from the evidence and such observations as the Court think fit.” Then later sub-sections deal with the costs. “The Court may make such order as the Court think fit respecting the costs of the investigation or any part thereof.” I think that is all that is material in the statute. Then, my Lord, there are a number of sub-sections and also of sections which deal with charges against officers and with their certificates. I do not know whether your Lordship has yet seen the questions, but I may say that there is no charge made in those questions which would involve the cancelling or suspension of certificates of the officers. The officers who would be involved in any answers which your Lordship might make, as it occurs to us at the moment, in reply to these questions are officers who have succumbed in this disaster, and whose certificates cannot be in question. My Lord, I think that is all, unless my learned friend thinks there is anything else he would like to call your
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