Page 145 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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representing the different interests in this case thought there should be some addition to or modification of a question, it might, perhaps, be carried out. Now, in Question 2 you are asked to decide this: "Before leaving Queenstown on or about 11th April last, did the 'Titanic' comply with the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894-1906, and the rules and regulations made thereunder with regard to the safety and otherwise of 'passenger steamers' and 'emigrant ships'?" I would respectfully suggest that a further question be asked: "Or did they comply with the requirements of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade?" The Attorney-General: My friend is in error about this. You cannot alter the Questions after some of the speeches have been made. I called your Lordship's attention originally to how the matter stood. This is done according to Statute and Rules and Regulations prescribing procedure and what happens is that the Questions are formulated by the Board of Trade, and at the end of the case, as I have pointed out quite recently, it is the province of the Board of Trade to add anything to or to amend the Questions. And I did then amend two Questions, and I said that I would consider any suggested amendment which was put forward by my friends, but that was the time to do it. It is quite contrary to the practice, and so far as I know I doubt very much if it could be done when speeches have been made. The Commissioner: I should like to know exactly from Mr. Edwards what he wants done. Mr. Edwards: May I just explain this? I said yesterday that your answer to this Question must be, "No." If you return the answer "No" to this Question, that is, both a reflection upon the builders and also the owners and also the Marine Department of the Board of Trade. Now, the position is this, that the builders did comply with the requirements of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade ultimately; and if there is, as I submit there is, ground for adverse and seriously adverse criticism it is not upon the builders in this respect; it is not upon the owners in this respect, but it is upon the officials of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade, who did not insist upon the builders and owners complying with their requirements. The Commissioner: But can you show me what law there is which entitles the Board of Trade to insist? It is no use insisting if you cannot insist. Now what is the regulation, or law, or section of an Act of Parliament which empowers the Board of Trade to insist on things being done; what are the things that they ought to have insisted upon and could insist upon, and how were they omitted to be done? Now, begin at the first: where is the power given to the Board of Trade to insist? Mr. Edwards: If your Lordship will look at Section 724. The Commissioner: The Act of 1894, is it? Mr. Edwards: Yes, my Lord. The Commissioner: Read it to me. Mr. Edwards: "(1) The Board of Trade may, at such ports as they think fit, appoint either generally or for special purposes, and on special occasion, any person they think fit to be a surveyor of ships for the purposes of this Act, and a person so appointed (in this Act referred to as a Surveyor of Ships) may be appointed either as a shipwright surveyor or as an engineer surveyor or as both. (2) The Board of Trade may also appoint a Surveyor-General of Ships for the United Kingdom." The Commissioner: Do not read things at large unless you know what is in them. There is nothing in this Section which has any relevancy to it at all. Mr. Edwards: With respect, my Lord - The Commissioner: Tell me which words. Mr. Edwards: I have not finished. I have only dealt with the personnel, and now I come to the duties. The Commissioner: What has personnel got to do with it? Mr. Edwards: Everything, my Lord, in this case.
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