HC Deb 27 April 1826 vol 15 cc714-7
Mr. Alderman Wood

rose, to move for leave to bring in a bill for the better regulation of the Watermen of the river Thames from Gravesend to Windsor. The hon. member strenuously urged the claims of the body whose cause he had undertaken to espouse, to the attention of the House. He would boldly say, that no set of men were better entitled to the consideration of the legislature than the watermen upon this river, amongst whom there were thousands of the ablest seamen in the empire. It was well known that this valuable class laboured under restrictions upon their vocation which no other of the industrious classes had to contend against, and this was an injustice the more obvious, from the great distress to which at seasons they were exposed. One of the means by which he proposed to make a more sure provision for these individuals was by a regulation, that no boats should be let out to hire upon the river without the parties hiring being obliged to take a waterman with them.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, that the hon. alderman had, some nights since, done him the honour to consult him upon the subject of his present motion; but he realty had not been able to ascertain, for some time after he had risen, whether the speech he was making had reference to that question or not. The statement of the hon. alderman upon that occasion, he had understood to be, that watermen were not at present permitted to ply upon Sundays, whilst there was another class who did ply and work upon the river. Upon that view of the question, he certainly had thought that a restrictive regulation of that description was necessary, especially as others were permitted to do what these men were interdicted. He then said, and he still thought, that it was too scrupulous an observance of the Sabbath to exact, under such circumstances; and he therefore, had declared, that he saw no objection to the worthy alderman's motion. He had, however, no idea that he meant to propose a measure of such minute regulation as that which he had proposed to the House. It appeared to him to a fleet the interests of so many different parties, that he could not but think that the' worthy alderman ought to postpone those regulations which went beyond the alterations to which he had alluded, to another year.

Mr. Alderman Wood

said, he should be very willing to accede to any wish of the right hon. gentleman upon the subject.

Mr. M. A. Taylor

observed, that the object of the bill was, to allow certain watermen to ply on Sundays. He wished the pleasures of the middle class of the people on Sundays not to be interfered with. He recommended his hon. friend to confine himself to that part of his bill which would permit the watermen to ply on Sundays.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, he had no objection to that clause.

Mr. Ellice

said, he would recommend his hon. friend to bring in his bill for the sole object approved of. The grievance could not be too soon removed, and he was the more inclined to hope for the concurrence of the right hon. gentleman as he must have known, that watermen were frequently committed to Coldbathfields in consequence of their inability to pay the fines imposed on them for plying on Sundays.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.