Page 116 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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Lordship and your Lordship’s skilled advisers, to consider the whole question of the launching of lifeboats from davits 70 feet high. I did make the suggestion that some consideration might be given to the question of whether or not the boats might be lowered from the stern or from a slip further down the side of the boat, and, if I might make a suggestion to your Lordship in the presence of the Attorney-General, it would be this, that in this committee that is considering the question of bulkheads, the relation of boats to bulkheads, it might be not undesirable that within the scope of its discussions it might include the question also of the proper launching of boats and the proper positions and the importance, at any rate, of the safe manner in which boats could be launched. With regard to a suggestion that I made, my Lord, it will also be a matter for your Lordship to consider, and that is as far as possible this question of the continuous service of crews on board these liners that ply across the Atlantic. I do not think it requires argument that if men who are accustomed to work on a boat, familiar with the vessel, with its various passages and ramifications, are employed continuously on that vessel, they will be more serviceable, better accustomed to their positions and better fitted to discharge their duties in times of danger and emergency; and if any system could be devised - I do not suggest a system of compulsion, but if it could be accomplished by inducement, by the offer of benefits - I do not wish to say that additional burdens should be thrown on the shipping companies - but if arrangements could be devised by employing them as shore gangs whereby these crews could be employed more continuously on Atlantic-going vessels, it might tend to safer navigation and to more dispatch in the matter of life-saving in case of danger. Now, my Lord, here is one other question that I should like to touch upon, and that is the question of the Board of Trade. The Commissioner: The Board of Trade? Do you propose to deal with that? Mr. Harbinson: I do not propose to deal with the Board of Trade with regard to bulkheads at all; I leave that absolutely to my learned friend who will follow; in fact, my Lord, I think it is probably better for me practically not to touch on the Board of Trade beyond saying this, that the learned Attorney-General has a big task, I think before him when he comes to vindicate the Board of Trade because, if I may say so, I think to seek to defend the Board of Trade is like defending the indefensible. Its position is serious. It wakes up in 1894, and it makes Rules with reference to vessels up to 10,000 tons, and then, my Lord, it goes to sleep and it does nothing. There is nothing done, no steps taken to extend the scale, although vessels are built between 1894 and 1910 which leap up in tonnage from 10,000 to between 40,000 and 50,000 tons. Nothing is done, my Lord, in that time to deal with the extension of the boat scale; nothing is done to frame regulations with regard to speed - The Commissioner: You are trenching on Mr. Edwards’ speech. Mr. Harbinson: I should be very loth to do that. Mr. Clement Edwards: Shortening my task, my Lord. Mr. Harbinson: I do not wish to entrench on the ground which Mr. Edwards is going to cover, but I think, my Lord, he is to cover it so fully that anything I say will not detract in the slightest from the multifariousness of the topics which he proposes to deal with. May I only say this? I did take a point with reference to the dent in the “Olympic.” I think that matter is rather serious. It was described by Mr. Wilding as a dent, but the information I had was that it was something more serious, although I accept his description, of course. I say that, of course, pointed and should have pointed to the necessity of a double skin, but my learned friend, Mr. Edwards, will deal with that, and probably he will also bear in mind when he is dealing with it that this slight damage to the “Olympic” did occur, and that an argument can be based upon it. Now, with reference to that, I think I have said all I wish to say. I wish to say that the Board of Trade has got many eyes and many ears, but it does not seem to have any brains.
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