Mr. Alderman Wood
said, that he had to present several Petitions from a very worthy and meritorious class of the community, whose interests he understood would be most materially affected by the projected bridge over the Thames near Rotherhithe. The petitions were all signed by the same description of persons, the watermen below bridge, who stated in their petitions, that their employment and consequent sole means of living arose from the conveyance of passengers and luggage upon that part of the Thames, situated at and in the neighbourhood of Cuckold's Point Stairs, and that should the bridge contemplated by an act now before the House be erected over that part of the Thames, their plying would be completely rendered useless and unprofitable. They farther represented, that they had acquired the right to ply upon the river by an apprenticeship of several years, and that the greater proportion of their body had, at one period or other, served with credit on board his majesty's vessels of war.
§ Mr. Wrottesley
took that opportunity of suggesting to the court of aldermen, who had so extensive a jurisdiction in the affairs of the watermen, the urgent necessity there existed for raising the fares of watermen plying on the river. Every article of life had made several progressive advancements in price since the watermen's fares had been last increased, and they could not possibly earn a livelihood if they were to receive no more than their bare fares as established by law. The introduction of a bill to remedy this grievance, would, he thought, be much more becoming on the part of the corporation of the city of London, than giving any encouragement to complaints evidently levelled against the erection of works or public utility.
Mr. Alderman Wood
replied, that although the court of aldermen had it in their power, by act of parliament to apply some relief as to the inadequacy of the present fares, still the court could not prevent, by raising their fares, the ruin which must ensue to the petitioners, should their plying be altogether cut off below bridge, as they apprehended. The petitioners, in fact, bad prayed for an indemnity in the event of the bridge being 1188 allowed to be built, and it would rest with the House to entertain the subject or not.
§ Ordered to lie on the table.