Many of you will have seen the government’s plans regarding Rwanda in the news in recent weeks and may have seen the coverage last week regarding the massive costs associated with this policy, despite the only people who have travelled to Rwanda being three Home Secretaries, Priti Patel, Suella Braverman and now James Cleverly.
It was Mr Cleverly’s turn to head to Rwanda earlier this month. The cost of a flight to Rwanda from the UK is around £600. Unfortunately for UK taxpayers, the total cost of upfront payments to the Rwandan Government (for zero commitments) has been £290 million paid or promised by the UK Government on the policy so far. That’s over £95 million per Home Secretary that has visited.
It is a disgraceful waste of our money and only adds to the catalogue of waste we have seen from recent Conservative governments. Whether it is the estimated £7.2 billion of money lost to covid fraud, each cheque signed off by then Chancellor, now Prime Minister, Mr Sunak, or the £40 billion Liz Truss cost us when she crashed the economy, it is unacceptable. Public money deserves respect, not to be thrown around with no care or regard like this.
Turning to the issue of sewage (a topic I know to disgust a great many people locally), there was an opposition day debate (in this case, a debate topic chosen by Labour) earlier this month on this sewage crisis that continues to plague our waterways, including here in Warwick and Leamington.
Unfortunately, due to testing positive for covid, I was unable to attend and speak in the debate but was relieved to hear my colleague, Steve Reed, the shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, raise the disgraceful state of our waterways and what we would do to tackle this shocking situation. Last year, there was at least one sewage spill every 2.5 minutes. In Warwick and Leamington, there were 524 hours of sewage dumped into our waterways.
It should never have been allowed to get into this state and the government should have done more to hold the water companies to account, not let them get away with marking their own homework and giving their bosses huge bonuses. Labour have committed to giving Ofwat the powers to ban these bonus payments to those water bosses who have been found to pump significant levels of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas. These plans would have meant that last year, Ofwat would have been able to block six out of nine water bosses’ bonuses last year.
We should be able to enjoy our waterways, not have to watch on as they get more and more polluted. It’s time for proper action to get our rivers, lakes and seas back to what we deserve.
As always, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any issues or concerns you would like to raise with me. I can be reached on [email protected] or on 01926 882006.
MP for Warwick and Leamington