HC Deb 08 June 1815 vol 31 cc690-1
Mr. Barclay

presented two petitions against the Thames Bathing Bill: the one from the watermen that ply upon the Thames, and the other from the inhabitants and householders on the banks of the river. He thought that something should be done to prevent the indecencies which were now witnessed, and which otherwise would extend to a greater degree. He defended the principle of these petitions. He had heart much of the rights of man, and lately of the rights of Scotch poachets: he hoped he should not hear of the right of indecent exposure. The remedy by action at law was slow and expensive.

Mr. M. A. Taylor

had lived for twenty-seven years on the banks of the Thames, and had never perceived any acts of indecency. Some time he had not seen six persons bathing in the course of twelve months. Were we worse than our ancestors? As a magistrate he did not recol- lect that any particular acts of that nature had come under his knowledge; and if they had, they could not be punished by an action, but by fine and imprisonment.

Mr. Harvey

had likewise the pleasure of living on the banks of the Thames, and he could not help saying that it was almost impossible for any decent person to live in such a situation from the number of persons undressing themselves, and exposing their naked bodies to view.

Mr. Calvert

begged leave to state, that he did not believe either petition proceeded from the inhabitants of Southwark.

The petitions were ordered to lie on the table. Mr. Wynn then moved the order of the day for the House to resolve itself into a committee on the Thames Bathing Bill. The House having resolved accordingly,

Mr. Harvey

proposed a clause, the object of which was to prevent persons from bathing in the River Thames in particular places; by imposing a penalty, recoverable before a magistrate, of not less than 5s., and not more than 10s. for the first offence, and of 20s. for the second offence; the magistrates having power to prohibit bathing, on application from the inhabitants, in particular districts.

On this a division took place, without comment. The numbers were—For the clause, 28; Against it, 56; Majority, 28. The Bill, in its original form, was then agreed to, and the House resumed.