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.
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?
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.
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.