I stand with the people of beautiful Hastings and Rye, who are all quite rightly angry about the extent of water companies’ excessive use of overflows. Only the Conservatives have come up with a proper, fully costed plan, and I am proud of and support the work that the Government are doing to deal with this issue, as well as the work that I do engaging with Southern Water and my constituents, to improve water quality and resources locally and to reduce sewage flooding.
I am somewhat bemused that the Opposition have tabled the motion for debate. They are far behind the narrative in trying to secure targets for sewage discharges and protect water quality. I want to express my deep disappointment in Labour and its leadership. I thought the days of Momentum and its dirty, dangerous and polarising politics had disappeared with the election of a leader who, from the outset, seemed to be someone with a plan, with integrity. However, recent weeks in particular have shown that Corbynism and Momentum politics have not disappeared. We have seen personal, misinformed attacks on the Prime Minister. We have seen personal, misinformed attacks on many Conservative MPs about sewage discharges, to the extent that many colleagues live in fear for themselves and their families. I thought that we were all trying to work together to bring the political debate back to more polite, constructive and sensible discourse, to help to reduce the horrendous abuse with which many MPs struggle on a daily basis. I was wrong.
Only this morning, I read an article in The Guardian that began:
“Labour to use tactic that finished off Truss to force Tories into sewage vote”.
That message was spread on social media by Opposition supporters, including a former popstar who has new-found fame attacking Conservative MPs about a subject they all seem to know little about.
This is all about politicking for Labour. Its tactics smack of desperation. It does not care about sewage issues, because if it did, Wales under the Labour-controlled Senedd would have a world-class water and sewerage system. It does not. Labour has been responsible in Wales for 23 years, and Wales has almost twice the amount of sewage discharges that England does.
This Conservative Government are the first UK Government to instruct water companies to prioritise the environment, both by imposing new legal duties on water companies under our landmark Environment Act 2021, and by giving new powers to Ofwat. This is the Government who will sort out water companies, and I stand by the measures that they take.