Page 94 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 14 - 18
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to promoting the safety of vessels and persons at sea. When the Court resumes after the adjournment and we proceed to deal with the evidence as to the construction of the vessel, it occurs to me it would be well to know how far your Lordship proposes to make recommendations with regard to watertight compartments, and as to any system which you may think should be adopted in the future. The reason why I am asking your Lordship for some direction is that I can quite follow that after you have heard the evidence you may come to a conclusion that some improvement should be made in some particular form of the system adopted in the “Titanic.” Of course, your Lordship came to that conclusion. If we were to inquire into that, of course, the evidence we should put before you would be directed to giving some indication of what is done, in other systems or in other vessels, in the way of some other method of construction. What is troubling me at the moment with regard to the preparation of the evidence is whether we are to put before you evidence which will enable the Court to say which is the best system in the Court’s opinion. The difficulty in regard to that is that if we are to inquire into it it would mean that we should have to put before you all the evidence that can possibly be obtained in reference to watertight compartments, and the various systems adopted. That would, no doubt, make a very serious inroad upon the time of the Commission. Your Lordship may know also that there has been an Advisory Committee appointed by the Board of Trade to inquire into this and to report upon it. The point I desire to draw your Lordship’s attention to is whether or not we are to pursue that method, namely, of giving evidence enabling you to pronounce upon the best system, or whether you think that in this Inquiry it would be better to confine the evidence to indicating generally the systems which may be adopted by other vessels, for the purpose of enabling you to report whether or not you think there may be some improvement in the present method of construction. Your Lordship will see that if we are to pursue the more extended Inquiry it means getting together a great deal of evidence which we have not as yet got, and which must, of course, occupy a great deal of time. I would like to know whether you think it would be advisable to take the more extended form of Inquiry and to get all that evidence, or whether you would propose to confine yourself to considering the advisability of any improvement in the system, which will be proved before you, which was adopted in the “Titanic.” The same observations would apply with reference to boats, because at a later stage we shall call before you the evidence from the Board of Trade of the course that has hitherto been pursued, and the precautions that are taken by the Board of Trade with reference to boats. There again the question will arise whether this Court proposes to recommend particular boats or a particular form; for example, of collapsible boat, or whether it would confine its recommendations to more accommodation in the shape of boats, if you should think that to be advisable. Possibly, your Lordship may consider whether it is necessary to have more collapsible boats or more lifeboats. Both of these matters are very vital to us in the preparation of the evidence we are going to lay before you. I should respectfully submit to the Court that it would be almost impossible to go into the wider consideration of both points, and, if you think fit to make recommendations that they should then be carried out by some special committees which may be appointed by the Board of Trade, or in such other form as may be deemed desirable. It is for that reason that I am making the application to you so that we may be able both to form some opinion as to how long this Inquiry will last, and also as to the nature and extent of the evidence which we shall have to call before you; because it is useless to deal with evidence of that kind from day to day. It must be carefully prepared so as to be laid before the Court in the best form. If your Lordship can assist us with regard to that I shall be very glad, so that we may occupy
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