Several constituents have contacted me over the past week with their concerns about our beaches, following false allegations that Conservative MPs have “voted to dump sewage onto beaches.”
This is false, and I can assure you that my colleagues and I would not, and have not, voted to do this. Whilst I agree that the amount of sewage discharged by water companies into our rivers and seas is unacceptable, this is the first Government to set out expectations that water companies must take steps to significantly reduce storm overflows.
This instruction will now be put on an enhanced legal footing. It is only because of the increased monitoring of storm overflows – directed by this Government – that we know how bad the problem really is.
Since 2016 the number of outflows monitored has increased from 6% to 90%. That is one of the main reasons why the numbers of incidents are ‘increasing’.
Furthermore, since 2008 the percentage of bathing waters rated as excellent has increased from 53% to 72%. Yet again, another vote recently took place in Parliament that was engineered for political purposes. The measures supported by opposition MPs would not have banned sewage overflows, as some falsely claim.
It is estimated that the proposals would have cost £12,000 to £21,000 per household. Conservative MPs have voted to amend plans, not block them. We removed the sections that would have meant massive bills for families across the UK.
These votes are cynical party politics at its worst, not a serious debate about solving the problem. I understand how emotive and important a subject this is.
I am committed to seeing the end of combined sewer discharges over time and to placing the obligation for dealing with the issue squarely on the water companies – not Cornish taxpayers.
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I am pleased that we have now announced our long-term strategy to fix children’s social care, focusing on more early support for families and ensuring the most vulnerable children in our society grow up in safe and loving homes.
Children in care deserve the same love and stability as everyone else and they deserve to have the best protection possible to prevent the horrific abuse seen in recent heart-breaking cases. That is why we have announced that £200-million will be invested over the next two years to transform the current care system, get families the early help they need, integrate our child protection system, support foster and kinship carers, and hire more social workers.
Our reforms will put strong relationships at the heart of the care system, ensuring every child can grow up in a safe and loving environment, giving them the very best start in life.