Page 59 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 23 - 26
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the evidence that we have already had and the evidence which is to be added by the few Witnesses still to be called. Will you give me the 26th question and let me draw your attention to it. I want to read it with you, Mr. Edwards. “The Court is invited to report upon the Rules and Regulations made under the Merchant Shipping Acts 1894 to 1906 and the administration of those Acts and of such Rules and Regulations.” Now I stop there for a moment, and then draw your attention to how that is cut down: “So far as the consideration thereof is material to this casualty.” Now, if I thought that those words unduly cut down what we ought to do I should not regard them, but I do not think they do. I think they are very important words, and define our task as well as it can be defined; that is to say we are invited to report so far as the consideration of the Rules and Regulations and the Acts of Parliament is material to this casualty; “and to make any recommendations or suggestions that it may think fit, having regard to the circumstances of the casualty with a view to promoting the safety of vessels and persons at sea.” Now, it seems to me, we are not intended - and I said some time ago that I should never be in a position to undertake the task - to enter upon an Enquiry and to report upon all questions affecting the stability and safety of ships. We cannot do that. We must limit ourselves to making recommendations, and they will be nothing but recommendation, upon the matters that really are relevant to the Enquiry into this casualty. Mr. Edwards: May I say, my Lord, upon that that I am quite sure that your Lordship in coming to your decision, will be faced with what I will call the relation between the sinkability of the ship and the question as to the extent to which there should be boating accommodation. Quite an essential element in what I may call the sinkability of the ship problem, of course, is this question of the number and character and strength of the bulkheads. Of course, it will be possible, if I may say so with respect, for your Lordship to take cognizance of the fact that already an expert Committee has been set up for the consideration of this problem of the bulkheads, and your Lordship may perhaps take the view that there is an insufficiency of evidence for you to come to an absolute and definite determination here on the question and may rather leave it open to that Committee. If that were so, I think that probably it would, if I may say so with respect, be inexpedient to go very extensively outside the evidence already obtained into the question of bulkheads, and, therefore, into the question of calling Witnesses from Lloyd’s. The Commissioner: That is the view I tried to express some days ago to the Attorney-General, and I requested him to limit the evidence to what I called evidence of a general character and not to attempt to go into detail, because I do not think this is the right tribunal to deal with questions of detail. They will be dealt with, I hope, and I expect, by the Committee that has been already appointed. Mr. Edwards: Perhaps it is not quite the right moment, but as it will probably save time, may I suggest that your Lordship should consider with your Assessors a suggestion that the terms of Reference to this Advisory Committee which has been set up should be extended so as to consider the relation of boating accommodation with regard to bulkheads and sinkability. The Commissioner: I think I have heard them, but I do not remember the Terms of Reference to that Committee. Mr. Edwards: The Terms of Reference are, my Lord, to advise - “(1) As to what in their opinion would constitute efficient subdivision with regard to each of the classes of vessels included in the Rules for life-saving appliances, made by the Board of Trade under Section 427 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, having due regard to the nature of the service in which they are respectively engaged, and, whether, independently of the foregoing, the Committee desire to make any recommendations with reference to the subdivision of vessels already built, or of new vessels, which would, in their opinion, contribute to the safety of life at sea.” I very much doubt whether those Terms of Reference are wide enough to allow them to consider or to deal with what I will call the relation of boating accommodation to sinkability.
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