Page 87 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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9,500 cubic feet of lifeboat accommodation, they can carry 7,000 odd. I do not see, my Lord, that it is reasonable or justifiable to set up those two standards. There should be a standard of safety and stability and seaworthiness, and it should be the higher standard, and the higher standard should be insisted upon before a ship is cleared and passed by the Surveyors and the authorities of the Board of Trade. That, in a word, is the submission I want to make on this point. But there is something I should add. This Rule 12, the only statutory Rule, has been regarded for a long time as an obsolete Rule. This suggestion is put by the learned Attorney-General to Sir Walter Howell: “Is it an obsolete Rule?” and he admits it is an obsolete Rule. If the justification for not ordering sufficient lifeboats is “We looked after the safety of ships and their passengers in another way; we made good Rules as to watertight bulkheads,” then I am forced to make this answer: It cannot be said that the Board of Trade have made such provision. They have been content with this one statutory provision made in 1890, because, I take it, from the evidence, that it was in operation before Sir Edward Harland’s Committee made its Report. And it is now obsolete; it has been obsolete for many years. How does that justify the conduct of the Board of Trade in failing to provide lifeboats for all? They have not renewed that provision; they have not revised it or reviewed it; they have allowed the standard for the sufficiency of bulkheads to become obsolete, and, side by side with that, they have also failed to make adequate provision for life-saving appliances. Your Lordship has had your attention directed to what was done in foreign countries. Take the United States. I had an opportunity of referring your Lordship to the present provisions in the United States. I think they are reasonable, and I am going to ask your Lordship to recommend them as the result of this Enquiry to the Board of Trade, that is, to provide lifeboats, or life- saving apparatus, for all persons carried on board those ships, passengers and crew. The Commissioner: I suppose we are not to do that if we are satisfied that by doing it a greater danger will be created than will be averted. Mr. Scanlan: I sincerely hope your Lordship will not find it necessary to take that view. The Commissioner: I can contemplate what Sir Norman Hill told us, that you may get the ship into such a condition of congestion with lifeboats as to make it more dangerous than if there were no lifeboats at all. Mr. Scanlan: I am very indisposed to take the view of Sir Norman Hill, who, for all that he has said about being an expert, is merely a lawyer. The Commissioner: What do you say? Merely a lawyer? Mr. Scanlan: Insofar as the requisite knowledge to guide your Lordship in these matters is concerned, I ask your Lordship not to be, shall I say, led by lawyers in advising you as to what is practicable and safe to carry in the way of lifeboat accommodation. I would much rather impress upon your Lordship the view of Mr. Wilding, or the view of Mr. Sanderson, or the views of any of the other real experts we have had, especially the views of Mr. Carlisle, than the view given by Sir Norman Hill. What does Sir Norman Hill know in comparison with Mr. Wilding about the way in which the boat deck space on a ship like the “Titanic” could be utilised? Mr. Wilding said, “There is nothing in the engineering sense impracticable in putting on the boat deck of a ship like the ‘Titanic’ sufficient lifeboats for all carried - even for 3,500.” I got the same statement from Mr. Archer, of the Board of Trade, and you have had a chorus of real experts whose testimony is all to that effect, and in the face of such evidence as that I should hope your Lordship would not weaken the stringency of the provisions to be recommended on account of what may be said by this distinguished solicitor, who is also an expert when he goes to the Board of Trade. I was directing your Lordship’s attention to the provisions of other countries, and this is the last thing I have to say. Before the disaster took place, your Lordship will see on page 38 of this Memorandum the statutory requirements of America. For a ship of the size of the “Titanic” you
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