Labour to force vote on opposition bill to end sewage dumping
Tory MPs have been told they face “judgment day” as Labour plans to force a binding vote on draft legislation aimed at bringing an end to sewage dumping.
The party said it will table an Opposition day motion in the House of Commons for a debate on the Water Quality (Sewage Discharge) Bill, introduced by shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon.
The private members’ Bill seeks to impose legally-binding reduction targets and automatic fines for companies found to be dumping waste in rivers and the sea.
Labour said the debate and vote on Tuesday would give Tory MPs an opportunity to support draft legislation that will put an end to sewage dumping “once and for all”.
Mr McMahon said: “It is clear that we have a Tory government that has run out of ideas, only regurgitating old announcements that do nothing to end sewage dumping. That is why Labour has brought forward legislation to clean up our water system.
“Today, Tory MPs have an opportunity to support Labour’s Water Quality Bill which will put an end to sewage dumping once and for all. Their constituents will be watching to see if they will put the best interests of our country before their party.
“The next Labour government will build a better Britain and end the Tory sewage scandal, delivering mandatory monitoring on all sewage outlets, introducing automatic fines for discharges, setting ambitious targets for stopping systematic sewage dumping and ensuring that water bosses are held to account for negligence.”
The party has said the Bill represents its plan to end sewage dumping by 2030. Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson Tim Farron said: “This vote will be judgment day for Conservative MPs on the sewage crisis plaguing our coastlines and rivers.
“Conservative MPs have spent the past year blocking tough new laws on water companies. They are trying to take the British public for fools with tough talk and no action.
“Communities across the country have had enough of Conservative MPs who would rather protect water firms over their local environment.”
The Bill comes after Labour analysis of Environment Agency statistics suggested sewage was dumped every two-and-a-half minutes on average since 2016.
Rivers, lakes, seas and beaches faced a staggering 1,276 years’ worth of raw sewage over just a seven-year period, according to the party’s research.
But Environment Secretary Therese Coffey defended the Government’s record on regulation and claimed Labour’s Bill was “ill-considered”.
“Labour have turned a blind eye to raw sewage being dumped almost twice as often in Wales where they are actually in government,” she said.
“They’ve turned Welsh waters into open sewers whilst playing politics in England. It’s clear they haven’t even read the Government’s plan.
“It was a Conservative government that introduced 100% monitoring of storm overflows.
“We’ve brought forward stronger regulations, tougher enforcement and the largest water infrastructure programme in history – an expected £56 billion investment – and we will make fines unlimited so that the polluter always pays.”
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