Page 95 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 14 - 18
P. 95
the time between now and the re-assembling of the Court in determining the evidence to be laid before you when we resume. The Commissioner: Well, Mr. Attorney, I regard the main object of the present Inquiry in which we are engaged here to be to ascertain the cause of this loss, and to fix, as far as we can, the blame on those who are properly to be blamed for it, if there be anybody. Our object also is to inquire into the loss of life following upon the disaster, and to report as to whether the means that were at hand were sufficient for the purpose of preventing loss of life, and, if not, in what respect those means were deficient. Those are the two main objects that we have to deal with, and it is, in my opinion, very undesirable that the Report that we have to make should be delayed for more than a reasonable time. It is desirable that it should be dealt with, and that the Report should be made as speedily as possible. If we were to sit here to hear scientific evidence and expert evidence which would enable us to report in detail upon all the means that should be taken for the purpose in the future of averting a calamity such as this, we should be a very long time over it; indeed, speaking for myself, I should have to be instructed thoroughly in matters on which I am comparatively ignorant at the present time. But, at the same time, I think it will be possible for the Board of Trade to gather together in a comparatively short time general evidence bearing upon these subjects which will enable us probably to say to what particular methods affecting construction and the provision of means for life-saving, attention should in the future be directed. And, inasmuch as I understand there is a Departmental Committee appointed for the purpose of inquiring into these matters, it appears to me that it would be a mistake if we were to inquire into the same matters, and that it would be sufficient if we were to confine our attention to what I may call general recommendations, leaving it to that tribunal which has been appointed for the very purpose of enquiring into these matters in detail, to act upon the recommendations as they think proper. I do not know whether I have expressed a view that will enable you to collect your evidence? The Attorney-General: Yes, my Lord, I think so. The Commissioner: I do not propose to sit here for six or twelve months, and we might have to do that, you know, in order to go into all the details which would possibly enable us to make useful recommendations upon questions of a scientific character. I do not think that when I was appointed Wreck Commissioner in connection with this matter it was ever contemplated or intended that we should do any such thing. Our great object is to ascertain the cause of this loss, and to see whether, the loss having happened, there were provided sufficient and proper means for saving the lives that were put in peril by the accident. When we have done that we can direct our attention generally to the question as to whether improvements are not possible both in the construction of the ship and in the provision of life-saving apparatus; and then, in a general way, and not in particular, make our recommendation. The Attorney-General: I am much obliged, my Lord. That will enable us to prepare evidence to meet your Lordship’s views, which we are very glad to have had expressed; and, of course, it will make it much shorter. At the same time we will call general evidence of that character on both the points I have mentioned; and if there is any evidence that your Lordship thinks will be of assistance, if you will indicate it, when we have called that, we will take care to have it brought before you either in respect of the Board of Trade matter or with regard to watertight compartments. Mr. Scanlan: My Lord, may I draw your Lordship’s attention in this matter to Question 26. It has reference to the Board of Trade and the administration of the Merchant Shipping Acts. I submit that at the institution of this Commission it was contemplated and expressed most distinctly in the place where the setting up of this Commission was mentioned, that the conduct of the Board of Trade itself -
   90   91   92   93   94   95   96   97   98   99   100