Page 83 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 83
Mr. Scanlan: Very well, my Lord. The Commissioner: And I will tell you why. There is nothing so detrimental to the business of a shipowner, a passenger carrying shipowner, as a loss. It does his business an enormous amount of harm, and he incurs the greatest money loss of all. I am talking of the money loss. And therefore you must not say they neglect these provisions out of parsimony. They do not. Mr. Scanlan: I may say a shipowner does not get an increase in his freight or in his passage money in proportion to the adequacy of the lifeboat provision. The Commissioner: I do not agree with you there either. Everything that adds to the expense of saving the ship increases the cost of the passenger’s ticket. Mr. Scanlan: It is the case, although there is a certain excess of provision over the requirements of the Board of Trade, that relatively to the total number of passengers carried, there is a most marked disparity between the provision made and the provision that would be necessary if a catastrophe occurred. The Commissioner: Yes, that is quite true, but you will not overlook the fact that shipowners have been struggling for a very long time past to make a ship its own lifeboat. Mr. Scanlan: Yes, my Lord, I was coming to that. The Commissioner: Their great object is, and their great object ought to be, to make a ship so safe that lifeboats are not necessary? Mr. Scanlan: Yes, my Lord. The Commissioner: That ought to be the great object. Mr. Scanlan: I think my friend Sir Robert Finlay recalled a poet who sang of the “oarless sea” - I remember coming on that passage in reading the evidence yesterday - and that undoubtedly must have been the dream of shipowners. Well, it is a dream, my Lord. Unless you are dealing with “painted ships upon a painted ocean,” I think it is necessary to consider the two things. Besides if the owners have been making their ships less sinkable, increasing their flotability, why could they not at the same time contemporaneously have gone on increasing the excellence of their ships by providing better lifeboat accommodation and life-saving apparatus? And that they have not done, and that the Board of Trade have not done. I want to bring this thing home to the Board of Trade, my Lord. We are told by Sir Walter Howell that after 1894 the only time that the conscience of the Board of Trade was pricked was in 1904, and your Lordship asked him - I think this is quite fair to him: I am getting through this part of the case as quickly as I can - what did he do then, and this is what he did: He consulted his Professional Adviser, that was Sir Alfred Chalmers, and then we had to wait till Sir Alfred Chalmers came to find out why nothing was done, and we certainly got an explanation from him. I think he is the personification of the Board of Trade in a more direct sense than any of the other Witnesses. You know what he said, my Lord? The Commissioner: Well, you tell me. Mr. Scanlan: He was asked, “Why did not you increase the scale of lifeboat accommodation?” and he says, “I did not think it was necessary in 1894.” The Commissioner: Do you mean 1894 or 1904? Mr. Scanlan: 1904; and then he is taken a step further, and he is reminded that since then the “Titanic” has gone down, and he is asked even now in the light of this calamity, would he increase the lifeboat accommodation? The Commissioner: I think you asked him that question. Mr. Scanlan: Well, some of us did. The Commissioner: And you asked him in an irritating way. Mr. Scanlan: Some people who are less irritating than I was - and I am sure if I have been unwittingly irritating, Sir Alfred Chalmers and other gentlemen from the Board of Trade will overlook it. But it is not through irritation that a man who occupied the responsible position of
   78   79   80   81   82   83   84   85   86   87   88