Sewage Outfalls

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th January 1995.

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Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger , Pembroke 12:00 am, 18th January 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many sewage outfalls into British rivers and the sea discharge untreated sewage, other than by maceration.

Photo of Paul Beresford Paul Beresford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

Some 96 per cent. of the United Kingdom population is connected to a sewerage system. A total of 83 per cent. of sewage is treated and 90 per cent. of this receives secondary treatment or better. The proportions, already high in comparison with those in many continental countries, will rise as a result of investment over the next few years.

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger , Pembroke

Does the Minister accept that there is still a serious problem in our rivers and around our coast? A recent survey showed that our beaches are not getting any cleaner. Is it not about time that the Government insisted that all river and sea discharges were worth tertiary treatment, so that we do not have the problems that have been experienced on, for example, the Gower peninsula where there has been possible infection as a result of sewage discharges into Carmarthen bay? Is it not time that we tackled this problem seriously by insisting on tertiary treatment of all sewage discharges?

Photo of Paul Beresford Paul Beresford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

The hon. Gentleman should put the matter into perspective. Compared with other countries, the United Kingdom is among the highest in the provision of treatment. Given the nature of the climate, the beaches are much cleaner than the hon. Gentleman is insinuating. We must tackle a problem such as this in the nature of priorities.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

What is the Minister doing here? He is supposed to be pulling teeth.

Photo of Paul Beresford Paul Beresford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) obviously requires a dentist. I am prepared to see him free of charge—not even under the national health service—and extract his teeth without a local anaesthetic.