Conservatives face ‘judgement day’ on sewage crisis as Labour forces Commons vote – UK politics live | Politics

Good morning. Water quality used to be a niche concern for environmentalists, rather than a mainstream political issue. But that is changed in recent years, as people have become increasingly angry about water companies continue to allow sewage to be discharged into rivers, and today Labour will seek to exploit that by challenging Tory MPs to vote down a bill that would do something about this.

Today has been set aside for opposition day debates – Commons debates on a Labour motion. Normally these are used for declarative motions (“This house believes that the government is rubbish …” etc) and the government often tells its MPs to abstain, because nothing happens if the motion passes. But increasingly Labour is using these slots to debate procedural motions, that would have an effect if passed, and the government cannot ignore these without consequence.

Using a technique used by MPs determined to stop a no-deal Brexit before the 2019 election, Labour has tabled a motion today that would allow it to take control of Commons business one day next month to pass a water quality (sewage discharge) bill. My colleague Peter Walker has written about it here. As he points out, the last time Labour tried this, to create time for a bill to create fracking, the Tory dissent this created was instrumental in finsihing off the Liz Truss premiership.

No one expects today’s debate to have quite the same impact, but Labour is assuming that Tory MPs will vote against, and that it will be able to go into the final days of the local elections campaigning saying the Conservatives have voted down a move to stop sewage being discharged into rivers.

Jim McMahon, the shadow environment secretary, said:

It is clear that we have a Tory government that has run out of ideas, only regurgitating old announcements that do nothing to end sewage dumping. That is why Labour has brought forward legislation to clean up our water system.

Today, Tory MPs have an opportunity to support Labour’s water quality bill which will put an end to sewage dumping once and for all. Their constituents will be watching to see if they will put the best interests of our country before their party.

The Lib Dems are supporting Labour and Tim Farron, the Lib Dem environment spokesperson, said:

This vote will be judgment day for Conservative MPs on the sewage crisis plaguing our coastlines and rivers.

Conservative MPs have spent the past year blocking tough new laws on water companies. They are trying to take the British public for fools with tough talk and no action.

Communities across the country have had enough of Conservative MPs who would rather protect water firms over their local environment.

There is a lot else on too. Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: Rishi Sunak chairs cabinet.

9.45am: Chris Philp, the policing minister, gives evidence to the Commons home affairs committee on policing.

10.05am: Keir Starmer gives an interview to ITV’s This Morning.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

11.30am: Steve Barclay, the health secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

12pm: Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, gives a speech to the Policy Exchange thinktank.

After 12.30pm: MPs debate a Labour motion that would allow the party to control Commons business on Tuesday 2 May to pass a bill to limit sewage discharges into rivers.

2pm: Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, gives evidence to the Commons defence committee.

2.30pm: Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland secetary, gives evidence to the Northern Ireland affairs committee.

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