Water off a duck's mak?
The Grasshopper has been following with interest the recent vote in the Commons to amend the Environment Bill. The amendment sought to place a legal obligation on Britain’s (or was it England’s? - it’s all so mixed up these days) water companies to stop dumping raw sewage in rivers and seas. In particular, The G. is interested in the antics of a certain Alan Mak, Conservative MP for Havant on the English South Coast, who voted (actually, whipped) against the amendment, despite having a dedicated page on his website entitled ‘Pressuring Southern Water to improve our water quality’.
After the vote on 20 October 2021 in which Mr Mak - perhaps cleverly - was not directly counted, being a teller on account of his upwardly-mobile role as a government whip, he tweeted, rather obliquely:
‘I continued my work this week to reduce Southern Water’s discharges by backing the Government’s Environment Bill.’
After the embarrassing drone footage, published on the same day as the vote, showing sewage being pumped into Langstone Harbour (in Mr. Mak’s constituency), followed by a hasty defence of the vote in which the government said this…
‘To eliminate storm overflows means transforming the entire Victorian sewage system to a whole new sewage system. It would be irresponsible for any government to spend an estimated preliminary cost of anywhere between £150bn to £650bn to transform the entire sewage system. This is a huge amount to spend in an ordinary time, let alone at a time of a continuing health pandemic.’1
…which was then followed by a U-turn in which the government said, on 26th October 2021…
‘We will be bringing forward an amendment at the next Commons stage of the Environment Bill which will place a direct legal duty on water companies to progressively reduce the adverse impact of discharges from storm overflows.’
…the Twitter feed, together with the dedicated page for his campaign against Southern Water on said MPs website, said…
Mr. Mak did squawk (sorry, tweet) about there being no increase in fuel duty in the budget (yawn) and on spirits (oh, please!). But on this issue - a huge one for his constituents as well as everyone else - he remained silent.
The Grasshopper has a bigger point here, though. This MP is 37 years old and is, by all accounts, an ambitious man. Worse things are written about his desire to get ahead, but the G. will not stoop to repeating them here. Instead, simply this: think back, dear reader, to when you were 37 (or ahead to when you will be 37) with all the family, mortgage and other responsibilities that came (or will come) with it. What would you do to rock your boat?
What exactly did the good people of Havant expect when they voted for this person?
England's water companies paid £57 bn in dividends between 1991 and 2019. That might have helped.