How did my MP vote on sewage spills? Voting records of Tory and Labour MPs as discharge hours double in year

There have been a number of votes in Parliament about sewage spills over the last few years - find out your MP's voting record below.
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Sewage spills are once again hitting the headlines, as new data revealed that the number of hours bilge was discharged into England's waterways more than doubled from 2022 to 2023.

Shockingly spills rose to 3.6 million hours in 2023, compared with 1.75 million hours in 2022. According to experts, this jump is in part due to heavy rain and subsequent sewage overflows. This was described as “disappointing” but “sadly not surprising” by the Environment Agency, while campaigners said the scale of discharges was a “final indictment of a failing industry”.

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The shocking state of our rivers, seas and lakes due to sewage has been one of the main political issues of the last few years, and so we thought we'd take a look at how MPs have voted on sewage spills.

How did my MP vote on Lords sewage spills amendment?

In October 2021, Tory MPs were forced to defend themselves against accusations that they gave the green light to water companies to dump raw sewage in rivers. An amendment from the House of Lords to the Environment Bill that would have placed legal duties on the companies to reduce discharges was defeated by 265 MPs’ votes to 202. Find out how your MP voted in our interactive table - remember that just because an MP recorded no vote it does not mean they didn't have a say - they may have been paired with an opposition MP who was unable to make the vote.


The SNP did not vote as the law only applied to England. Many other MPs also did not vote either way. For example, 70 Tory MPs either deliberately abstained or were absent for the vote, including Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Alok Sharma and Nadhim Zahawi.

As well as this, 38 Labour MPs did not vote either way, either because they deliberately abstained or due to absence for another reason, including shadow cabinet ministers Angela Rayner and Jonathan Ashworth.

How did my MP vote on the April 2023 Sewage Discharge Bill?

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In April 2023, Labour introduced the Water Quality (Sewage Discharge) Bill on an opposition day debate, which would require water companies to reduce discharges from storm overflows by 90% by the end of 2030. It would also impose automatic financial penalties for sewage dumping. Labour submitted the motion to reduce sewage discharges to make Tory MPs vote against it, with the aim of plastering this on attack adverts.

However, in a separate development, the government instead announced its own plans for legally binding targets to cut sewage discharges. The Tories presented this amendment which due to procedure got voted on first as it only involved deleting text - a niche Parliamentary technicality - which ultimately forcing Labour MPs to abstain on their own motion. Now the Conservatives can claim Labour refused to back plans to reduce sewage discharge, while the opposition can argue the same.

The government’s amendment passed by 290 votes to 188. Find out how your MP voted with our interactive table below.

How did my MP vote on the Lib Dems' sewage illness amendment?

Last December, Tory MPs voted down an amendment tabled by the Liberal Democrats that would have provided compensation to those who have suffered illness as a result of sewage spills. The new amendment came in the wake of government statistics released on December 1 which found a sharp rise in the number of bathing water sites rated as "poor quality."

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The amendment would have allowed anyone who had suffered illness as a direct result of sewage-polluted water to claim compensation. It would also have ensured the government establishes a compensation scheme.

The Liberal Democrats said that the Conservatives have “let water firms get away with their destructive ways for far too long” and “there needs to be justice for victims of potential environmental crimes, especially swimmers and families simply wanting to enjoy beaches and lakes.” The party added: “Water company CEOs are pocketing millions in bonuses whilst swimmers get sick. This cannot carry on. If someone is poisoned by sewage, they should be compensated for it.”

A Defra spokesperson said that this government is the "first" to take "comprehensive action on storm overflows with monitoring up from just 7% in 2010 to 100% expected by the end of the year, while also introducing the largest infrastructure programme in water company history – £60 billion over 25 years, prioritising action to improve bathing waters". The amendment, which was to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, was voted down by 277 MPs, with 190 MPs voting in favour. Find out how your MP voted in our interactive table below.

Ralph Blackburn is NationalWorld’s politics editor based in Westminster, where he gets special access to Parliament, MPs and government briefings. If you liked this article you can follow Ralph on X (Twitter) here and sign up to his free weekly newsletter Politics Uncovered, which brings you the latest analysis and gossip from Westminster every Sunday morning.

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