Page 7 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 23 - 26
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Mr. Edwards: That there ought to be a medical test and that there ought to be a test of service and a test of efficiency. The Commissioner: What do you mean by a “test of service”? Mr. Edwards: Length of service. The Commissioner: Do you mean enquiries into the man’s past connection with the sea? Mr. Edwards: Yes, my Lord. The Commissioner: You do not mean some practical test? Mr. Edwards: I am coming to that. The Commissioner: But do you mean that? Do you mean that he is to be put into an engine room to grease in order to see whether he can grease? Mr. Edwards: That would not be a deckhand, my Lord. The Commissioner: Well, take a deckhand. Mr. Edwards: I was coming to that. A deckhand might include the duty of being a look-out. The Commissioner: Is the ship to put out to sea with men in the crow’s-nest in order to find out whether they are good look-out men? Mr. Edwards: I do not suggest that, my Lord. There are commonsense limits. The Commissioner: I want to know where the commonsense limits come in, because it appears to me at present that if you have a really qualified man representing the Board of Trade to see these men, to look at them, and to make enquiries about them, and to ascertain what their past is, you have as good a test as you can have. The Attorney-General: There is some definition of it. I do not know whether your Lordship noticed it. But I am afraid I was trying to get something else for the Court, and I am not sure I followed exactly what men Mr. Edwards means. The Commissioner: I understand the suggestion of Mr. Edwards is that the selection of the deckhands and of the crew generally should not be left in the discretion of a local officer representing the Board of Trade, but that he should have a list of printed directions - and then I am asking Mr. Edwards, what they are to be - which would control the discretion. The Attorney-General: There are some instructions with reference to it. The Commissioner: Will you tell me one? The Attorney-General: Yes, I notice this, that amongst the requirements, which have been already mentioned, in the book, “Instructions Relating to Emigrant Ships,” at page 10, which gives the scale, to which my friend’s attention was called, there is this: “The term ‘deckhands’ means the master and the mates and all bona fide able-bodied seamen. The carpenter, boatswain, quartermasters, lamp trimmer and other petty officers who have served or are fit to serve in the capacity of A.B. may be regarded as bona fide able-bodied seamen for this purpose. Of the total number of deckhands carried one in five may be an ordinary seaman and two boys may be taken in place of each ordinary seaman so allowed. One cook and one steward may be reckoned as bona fide able-bodied seamen if they produce proof that they have served as A.B.’s, and the Emigration Officer is satisfied by actual trial that they can pull an oar and are fit to serve in that rating. Tradesmen, such as joiners, etc., are not to be counted.” Those are the instructions. Of course, as your Lordship knows, the able-bodied seaman is defined, there is no doubt as to what that means. That is section 126 of the Merchant Shipping Act. He must have served at sea for three years before the mast. Then there is the ordinary seaman and, of course, ship’s boys. Mr. Edwards: Do you not think, Sir Walter, that there ought to be a minimum standard or test laid down for every one of the deckhands in the matter of boat handling, for instance? The Commissioner: Will you, if you can, in words state to me what the direction is to be or what you suggest it should be? Tell it to me in words. Mr. Edwards: I suggest, my Lord, that the men ought to undergo an examination and a test to
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