Page 147 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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The Attorney-General: Yes, certainly. The Commissioner: The one, perhaps, must be complied with, and the other need not necessarily be complied with. The Attorney-General: Quite. Mr. Edwards: May I suggest that the meaning is this: the Merchant Shipping Act requires certain Regulations to be made; those Regulations are made, but it is left very much at large as to what particular degree or standard should be insisted upon under a Regulation on a given occasion, and therefore the Board of Trade deem it necessary, so much being left to the discretion of the Surveyor, to offer him suggestions as to how he shall, and the method by which he shall, arrive at a given conclusion to say what the Regulation in the particular case shall be. The Commissioner: Leaving him to exercise his judgment, I suppose? Mr. Edwards: Yes, my Lord. The Commissioner: Otherwise it would be a Regulation, and he would have no option about the matter at all. Mr. Edwards: Yes, my Lord, that is so. The Commissioner: I think so. Mr. Edwards: Now the particular document to which I have referred is not in the category of a suggestion; that is in the category of a Regulation. The Commissioner: Why do you say so? Mr. Edwards: I was going to tell your Lordship. If you will look at the second page of Circular 1401, the last paragraph of it says that "the above Regulations regarding the height of the bulkheads," and so on. The Commissioner: Yes, it is headed, you know, "Amendment to Clause 16 of the Regulations and Suggestions." That is the way it is headed. Mr. Edwards: I know, my Lord. The Commissioner: And Clause 16 comes among a great many clauses which are also headed "Regulations and Suggestions." Mr. Edwards: Yes, my Lord, I quite recognise that, if I may say so with respect. If your Lordship will now look at the second page of that book your Lordship will see that the very first clause says - The Commissioner: These Regulations and Suggestions? Mr. Edwards: Yes; "are issued by the Board of Trade under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, for the assistance and guidance of their officers in surveying passenger vessels." The Commissioner: Yes. Mr. Edwards: It seems to me, if I may say so with respect, that the position stands rather in this way. Either you can, from these documents, ascertain what were the Regulations pursuant to the Act with which the builders ought to have complied, and regulations which the officials of the Marine Department ought to have insisted upon, in which case you would be able to measure the extent to which they either did or did not comply with their duty; or your Lordship will have to say that these Regulations and suggestions are so inextricably mixed up that it is impossible to tell that which is a Regulation which must be enforced and that which is a suggestion which is merely put in for the guidance of officials. Now, if these things are only put in for the guidance of the officials, they are no more binding than, as your Lordship suggested yesterday, was the case of the standards laid down by the Bulkheads Committee; and we are face to face with this perfectly amazing position that in the matter of shipbuilding in this country, where the responsibility for a declaration of safety is placed upon the Board of Trade, there are no definite and ascertainable Regulations with which there must be compliance as a sine qua non for a ship getting its declaration of clearance. The Commissioner: Do you suggest that in every detail there is to be a Regulation which must
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