Page 151 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 151
in the light of the particular facts here. May I say that if these Rules and Regulations were designed merely to guide the surveyor, and he might exercise a personal discretion as to the application of those Rules and Regulations, then I feel that that may have been done here, and I should not feel competent to argue, with my lack of technical knowledge, nor do I think the Court would care about it, whether that discretion had been wrongly exercised. If, on the other hand, we are to take these Rules and Regulations as binding upon the surveyor, that is quite a different thing, because every departure from those Rules and Regulations by the surveyor would be in the nature of a dereliction of duty. If your Lordship takes the first view, I will say at once that I should leave the matter entirely with your Lordship as to the personal conduct of the officers of the Board of Trade; I should ask your Lordship to look at the correspondence, and I should address my remarks to the much broader question as to whether, under all the circumstances, it is wise to leave Rules and Regulations rather in the form of non-binding guides and suggestions to the surveyors. The Attorney-General: There is one part of Rule 16 to which I think your Lordship's attention should be directed, more especially having regard to the evidence of the surveyors in this case. If you look at Rule 16, to which Circular 1401 is an amendment, you will see that in the absence of any specific regulation the matter is referred to the Board of Trade before a declaration is given. The Commissioner: I know that; that is the end of the amended Rule. The Attorney-General: But it comes also at the beginning of 16, dealing with the three bulkheads, in respect of which they can make requirements which must be carried out. "A stokehold bulkhead, as well as a collision watertight bulkhead and an after watertight compartment, to enclose the stern tube in each screw shaft, should be fitted in all sea-going steamers, both new and old, and in the absence of any of these the case must be specially referred to the Board of Trade before a declaration is given." Then comes the end, where equally they have to refer to the Board of Trade. I call your Lordship's attention to that, because your Lordship may not remember exactly what took place with regard to the evidence. Mr. Carruthers was examined upon this, and he explained in detail what he did and what took place in London about it. It was referred to London; that was the point of it. The Commissioner: Now let me, Mr. Edwards, refer you to Rule 16, that part of it which has not been altered: "An efficient and watertight engine room should be fitted in all seagoing steamers." Do you suggest that that question of efficiency is not to be left to the man who surveys, or do you suggest that there ought to be Rules and Regulations the observance of which should alone constitute efficiency? Mr. Edwards: What I am suggesting, my Lord, is this, that certainly there should be a definite fixed standard of efficiency, which should be binding upon every surveyor of the Board of Trade. The Commissioner: Just let us test that. Does rivetting constitute any part of the construction of a watertight engine room? Mr. Edwards: Certainly, my Lord. The Commissioner: It does? Mr. Edwards: Certainly, my Lord. The Commissioner: Is there to be a Rule and Regulation which says how many blows each rivet is to receive? Mr. Edwards: No, my Lord. The Commissioner: He is to exercise his discretion, then? Mr. Edwards: May I answer the specific question by telling your Lordship exactly what is done? If your Lordship will turn to the report of the Bulkheads Committee and turn to the tables at the end, and if your Lordship will also turn (I think Professor Biles has a copy of it) to Lloyd's Rules and Regulations, you will there see in those two volumes the rules and regulations laid
   146   147   148   149   150   151   152   153   154   155   156