Sewage Disposal in Rivers and Coastal Waters - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:12 pm on 7th July 2022.

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Photo of Lord Oates Lord Oates Liberal Democrat 2:12 pm, 7th July 2022

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this very informative debate, and I thank the Minister for his response and his evident passion for this issue. Personally, I think this debate came at a good time, but for those who disagree, such as the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, I unreservedly lay the blame for the timing at the feet of my Chief Whip.

I also want to pay tribute to the noble Duke, the Duke of Wellington. I was very pleased, to be one of the signatories to his amendment to the Environment Bill. I fully recognise that there are many factors beyond the responsibilities of the water companies, but they are central to this.

As a liberal, I have a firm belief in markets and competition driving innovation and public benefit, and I come at these issues from a different point of view from that of the noble Lord, Lord Sikka. But in the water industry there is no market and no competition, there is monopoly, and as a liberal I am totally against those who exploit monopolies to gouge the public and enrich themselves, particularly when they are doing so at the expense of our precious natural environment.

Ownership is a bit of a distraction. The issue is appropriate and tough regulation, a sewage bonus ban on the water companies, and, if necessary, a cap on excessive CEO pay until their statutory duties are met. I ask the Minister to revisit this issue of bonuses and remuneration and to get all the water companies to start taking their responsibilities seriously so that we can end this sewage scandal.

Motion agreed.