South West Water: Brixham Contamination

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am ar 20 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Shadow Minister (Flooding, Oceans and Coastal Communities)

Another day, another example of the depths of failure to which this Government have taken us. I cannot believe that I am about to say this, but after 14 long years of Conservative rule, in 21st-century Britain, our water is no longer safe to drink. Of course, the Government will be flailing around, desperate to clasp on to somebody else to blame, but this crisis is theirs, and it is this Government who must show some leadership and take responsibility for it. They were the ones who weakened regulation, leaving our Victorian-era sewerage system starved of investment. They turned a blind eye and left water companies to illegally pump a tidal wave of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas. Only last month, the Labour party warned that our nation’s health is at risk because hospital admissions for waterborne diseases have skyrocketed by two thirds since 2020. Is this an example of the Government’s plan working? Is this what they think success looks like?

And now this, as the icing on the cake of failure: a parasite outbreak in Brixham with South West Water. Some 16,000 homes and businesses have been advised to boil water before drinking it; over 46 cases of cryptosporidiosis have been reported; more than 100 people have reported symptoms; and a 13-year-old boy has been admitted to hospital. That is appalling.

Enough is enough, so today we are calling on the Government to urgently adopt Labour’s plan to put the water companies into special measures in order to clean up their water. As a matter of utmost urgency, the Government must strengthen regulations so that law-breaking bosses face criminal charges, and go further by giving the regulator new powers to block the payment of bonuses until water bosses have cleaned up their filth. With Labour, the polluter will pay, not the public.

I have one question for the Secretary of State. With contaminated water hospitalising children and record levels of toxic filth in our water systems, how much worse does the situation have to get before the Government adopt Labour’s plan to put the water industry into special measures?