Biodiversity: Rivers and Streams

Wales – in the House of Commons at on 8 May 2024.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

What discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the biodiversity of Welsh rivers and streams.

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

Water is a devolved matter in Wales, and therefore rivers and streams in Wales are the responsibility of the Welsh Government. The UK Government recognise that rivers are an essential part of our natural environment. That is why we are working on the UK national biodiversity strategy and action plan.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Will the Minister fess up to the fact that the real scandal in Wales is that the UK Government keep denigrating a good Welsh Government that in terms of biodiversity and so much else are better than the rest of the UK? On biodiversity, they are three times better than England. Is it not about time that we got a few Welsh ideas and Welsh leaders to help us clean up our act and our rivers?

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

That was a good attempt, but I simply cannot disagree with the hon. Gentleman more. It is this Government who forced water companies to provide £56 million towards investment in the storm overflow network, improving water quality across England. In Wales, the picture could not be more different. The average number of sewage spills per outflow is 38; in England, it is 23. Our record speaks for itself.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee, Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for clarifying the sub judice rules in relation to Parc Prison. MPs across south Wales were disappointed that the urgent question was declined yesterday, but we understand why. We will continue to seek answers and to scrutinise Ministers over these deeply distressing events, and the way the prison is being run.

Thousands of Pembrokeshire residents continue to have their lives blighted by air pollution and fears about water pollution from the Withyhedge landfill site. Given that the Ministers in Wales who are responsible for overseeing the public health and the environmental regulatory response both voted last week to block an independent investigation into the financial dealings between the owner of that site and the First Minister, how on earth can my constituents have confidence that their concerns will be addressed impartially and the problems resolved?

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

My right hon. Friend lives this issue on a daily basis, and I commend him for highlighting the plight of his constituents, who have to endure the impact of such devastating environmental pollution. Any way we look at it, this donation stinks, and it is shameful that the Welsh Government are evading scrutiny on the issue. His constituents can have no confidence that this matter will be investigated. There is no independent scrutiny here. Labour Members should explain why they are scared of scrutiny on this question.