HC Deb 08 May 1833 vol 17 cc1036-8
Sir Edward Codrington

presented a Petition from the Watermen of Gravesend, praying to be heard by Counsel against the Gravesend Pier Bill. The hon. and gallant Admiral stated, that since the Second Reading of that Bill he had been to Gravesend, and was enabled to state his decided opinion, notwithstanding the opinion of the Admiralty Board to the contrary, that a projection like the proposed pier, which extended 205 feet in the river, and into a depth of twenty-seven feet at high water, would be Highly injurious to the navigation. He thought, also, that that was the real opinion of the Board of Admiralty, for he believed that they were now prosecuting the persons who erected a projection near Woolwich, which only extended ten feet into the river. Besides the injury to the navigation, the watermen were entitled to some consideration, for they were generally persons who had been impressed, and passed the best part of their lives in the navy, many of them being disabled and dismissed without pensions. One man, after coming home with him after the battle of Navarino, with the loss of an eye, applied to him for remuneration; and cm his forwarding the application to the Admiralty, he was told that the man who had only lost an eye was not disabled from service, although he had always understood that the loss of an eye entitled a man to compensation as much as the loss of a limb. After that the man lost the other eye, haying also had six wounds, and the only reward he could obtain for the poor fellow was 6d. a-day. If that was the way the Admiralty remunerated disabled seamen, he thought it was time to inquire into all other classes of pensions. If the country was so poor that it could not afford to reward such men, let the same course be adopted with regard to all other persons, and he would, for one, if necessary, serve his country for nothing. He had been led thus into the subject, because the House would recollect how men had been pressed for the navy during the war. If a man were a good likely-looking sailor he was immediately pressed, whilst recruits were wheedled into the army by bounties of 17l. or 18l. The sailor, however, was seized, confined as a prisoner to the ship, and at last driven into accepting a bounty of as many shillings as the soldier got pounds, and after all when he had become blind, he was put off with the miserable pittance of 6d. a-day.

Sir Robert Inglis

rose to Order. He thought the gallant Admiral was wandering from the question in making an irrelevant attack, not only on preceding Administrations, but on the present Ministry; and that the subject of the petition did not warrant his going into the topics he had introduced.

Sir Edward Codrington

considered that he was quite in order in alluding to the situation of that class of persons who would be most grievously injured by the proposed Bill. It was important to them that they should be heard by Counsel against it. Besides this he had only urged this objection to the Impediments which would occur by the erection of the pier. It must be well known to many Members of that House, that sometimes a single tide would fill in the harbour of Dover, and that the backwater would subsequently clear it; but the pier intended to be put up would impede the flood-tide, and also the return-tide and backwater, so that the navigation of the river would be put in great jeopardy.

Captain Elliott

said, he had been called up, by the observations of his hon. and gallant friend, to say a few words on the subject. The gallant Admiral had objected to the pier, because it would throw a number of persons out of employment who had peculiar claims for the consideration of the House; and because the pier would be au impediment to the safe navigation of the river. The pier at Woolwich, to which the Admiralty had objected, was a solid piece of masonry, and therefore formed a positive impediment; but the Gravesend pier was to be built upon iron stauncheons, which would admit of the flux and reflux of the tide. With respect to the pension of 6d. per day—

The Speaker

considered that any discussion on the principles of pensions was out of order.

Captain Elliot

would not go further into the subject, than to say, that the sailor referred to had been examined by a medical officer, who had recommended that he should go for a time into the hospital, as there was a hope that his sight would be restored.

Petition referred to the Committee on the Gravesend Pier Bill.