Page 82 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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arisen. It is perfectly obvious that if there had been an alteration by the Board of Trade, it would not have provided for anything like the number of lives carried in these big steamers. Mr. Scanlan: Yes, my Lord. The Commissioner: We know that for good reasons or bad reasons, up to the present time it has not been the practice to carry lifeboats to accommodate everybody on board. Mr. Scanlan: No, my Lord. The Commissioner: Neither in the British Mercantile Marine nor in the German nor any other. We know that, and therefore if the Board of Trade had extended its Rules, as I daresay they ought to have done, they nevertheless would not have extended them to such an extent as you suggest now they ought to be extended. Mr. Scanlan: Quite, my Lord. The Commissioner: And I do not suppose they would have been blamed for not doing it. Mr. Scanlan: If I may put my point shortly, it is this: That there is surely a failure to recognise growing needs in this body charged with making those regulations in failing to cope with the advance in ships’ construction and in resting content in 1911 and 1912 with provisions that might have been thought suitable in 1890. The Commissioner: You are so fair, that I scarcely like to say what I am going to say now. Mr. Scanlan: Do, my Lord. The Commissioner: I do not think you have put it quite fairly, and for this reason. The Board of Trade knew full well as we know, as you know and all of us know, that whatever the Board of Trade Rules were, the shipowners did provide what they considered at all events an ample supply of lifeboats accommodation. Mr. Scanlan: And that is one of my quarrels with the Board of Trade, my Lord. The Commissioner: Let me see your quarrel? The Board of Trade know that the thing is being done properly, and then you blame them for not making a Rule. Mr. Scanlan: No, my Lord. The Board of Trade know that so meagre and insufficient are their own Rules that shipowners voluntarily make provision in excess of those Rules, and this very fact should have convinced them that their Rules needed revision. That is the point. The Commissioner: But they do not need revision if there is no occasion for a Rule. Mr. Scanlan: If one could conceive that shipowners did spontaneously make adequate provision, then the thing would have been all right in spite of the Board of Trade, but it is not the fact that shipowners made adequate provision. What I maintain is that shipowners made inadequate provision, and further that, though their provision was inadequate, it was not so inadequate as the provision required by the Board of Trade, and consequently in so far as keeping a look-out and keeping abreast of the times is concerned, the Board of Trade is much more culpable than the shipowners. The Commissioner: To tell you the truth, Mr. Scanlan, I do not believe any shipowner ever looked at these Rules. I do not believe they ever looked at them. They simply said, “Here is a ship, how many lifeboats ought she to have?” and as they knew perfectly well that the number they were going to supply would far exceed anything that the Board of Trade ever contemplated, they went on. Mr. Scanlan: I think they knew that the Board of Trade were not likely to contemplate anything in the way of an increase, and as your Lordship said, when one witness was in the box, they were hoping that the Board of Trade would do nothing, and certainly they were not disappointed in that hope. I wish to treat this seriously, my Lord. With regard to the lifeboats altogether between the Board of Trade and the shipowners, lifeboats are quite a neglected department in ships, and the reason I suspect is this, that there is no money in lifeboats. Every other department of a ship has seen improvements. The Commissioner: I do not agree with you there.
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