HC Deb 10 April 1832 vol 12 cc193-5
Mr. Calvert

presented a Petition from the shipowners and others interested in the free navigation of the river Thames, against the Gravesend Pier Bill. The petitioners complained of the great injury which would arise to the navigation by the erection of the pier, which was proposed to extend 215 feet into the bed of the river, and that a great injustice would be done to the watermen of Gravesend, 1,200 of whom would be thrown out of employment. The petitioners concluded by praying that the Bill might not pass into a law.

Laid on the Table.

The Order of the Day for the third reading of this Bill having been read,

Mr. Hodges

moved, that the Bill be now read a third time. He supported the Bill, as a great convenience to the public, who, in a short space of time, would have the pier free from all tolls. With respect to the alleged injury to the navigation of the river, he could only say, that the plan had been investigated by the officers of the Board of Admiralty, the Custom House, Trinity House, and the Corporation of the city of London, and the select Committee had been informed by those several officers that the plan was neither objectionable, nor could any inconvenience arise from it. The inconvenience of the present pier was sufficiently proved by the fact that 40,000 persons had landed at a temporary pier at Northfleet, one mile from Gravesend, during the last year. He begged hon. Members to reflect that Gravesend was the Brighton of the lower orders of the metropolis, of whom 120,000 visited it during the last year, and, therefore, the subject was well worthy the consideration of the House.

Sir Byam Martin

objected to the Bill, under the conviction that the navigation of the river would be injured, for he knew that erections of this description tended much to create dangerous shoals. He should, therefore, move, as an amendment, that the Bill be read a third time this day six months.

Sir Robert Inglis

said, he had some reason to believe the hon. and gallant Admiral's remark was correct, and, therefore, he felt bound to support the Amendment.

Mr. Hodges

observed, that the gallant Admiral's objection, would, in this instance, be obviated by the manner in which the work in question would be constructed.

Mr. Briscoe

supported the Bill. He had been on the Committee, and, he considered the intended pier of so much importance to the people who resorted to Gravesend from town, that he would give the Bill his fullest concurrence.

Mr. Wilks

concurred in what had been advanced in support of the Bill. The public would by it be relieved from the exorbitant demands of the Gravesend watermen for landing passengers, although, he considered, that the Bill ought not to compel persons who did not land at the jetty to pay the dues for the pier.

Mr. Warburton

said, that unless a provision was introduced into the Bill, to give the public the option of choosing their landing place, he should support the Amendment.

Mr. Hodges

said, the payment of the pier dues would be only compulsory on those who passed from steam vessels, regularly employed in the conveyance of passengers. There was no such obligation on other vessels.

Mr. Hunt

said, it appeared from the hon. Member's statement, that those who travelled by hired vessels, were to pay the pier dues while those who sailed in their own were to be exempt. This was hardly fair, particularly when it was said it would throw several hundred watermen out of employment, whose charge for landing passengers was now 4d., while the pier dues were 3d., and this it seemed was to be paid whether they used the pier or not. A division took place on the Amendment: Ayes 26; Noes 41—Majority 15.

The Bill read a third time.

Two clauses having been added on the Motion of Mr. Hodges by way of rider,

Mr. Hume

then moved an Amendment on one of the clauses, to the effect that passengers might have the option of landing either above or below the pier without being liable to the dues, which ought only to be payable by those actually making use of the pier.

The House divided on the Amendment; Ayes 45; Noes 21—Majority 24.

The Bill, with the Amendment, passed.

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