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 Steve Barclay Steve Barclay The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The right hon. Member seems to have missed what we have done. First, as I touched on in my response to the urgent question, I personally have been chairing calls with the chief executive and key stakeholders —for example, on Friday and Saturday. The Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries, who has responsibility for agriculture, visited the community on Friday morning and has had daily contact with the chief executive. Indeed, my hon. Friend Anthony Mangnall and I have been speaking multiple times a day on these issues, so the right hon. Member’s suggestion that we have not been involved just does not cut the mustard.

On bonuses, we have already taken action. We have a consultation with Ofwat on restricting bonuses, because I actually agree with the right hon. Member that, where there is serious criminal wrongdoing by a water company, bonuses should not be paid to executives. We actually agree on that point, and we are taking action.

On the right hon. Member’s third point, about prosecution, as I touched on in my answer to Emma Hardy, we currently have the largest criminal prosecution by the Environment Agency of water firms. Much to my frustration, I am restricted in some of the things I am allowed to know about that investigation, because it is a matter for an independent body—the Environment Agency. However, that investigation is ongoing and it is the largest in the EA’s history. It shows that we are prepared to get tough with the water companies.