Richmond Park News: 7 April 2023
This week, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced her ‘Plan for Water’, an attempt to clean up our rivers and beaches which are often the site of sewage overflow. The announcement was a mixture of previously announced measures combined with some small additions. I do not believe it is nearly enough to address the crisis of sewage in our waters.
Since my election as the local MP in 2019, I have fought to protect both the Thames and smaller local waterways such as Beverley Brook from water companies that use them as waste overflow. These companies are protected by a Government that has continually refused to outlaw the practise. Shockingly, in Southwest London, sewage was dumped into the Thames on 123 occasions for a total of 590 hours over the last two years.This is equivalent to 48 minutes every day during that time. This completely unacceptable situation and requires much stronger action.
I spoke to ITV London this week to set out what the Liberal Democrats would do to address this crisis. This includes the replacement of Ofwat, the water regulator, with an organisation that has the power to truly hold water companies to account. We would also reform water companies as ‘public benefit companies’ and require them not just to work for their shareholders, but also meet national economic and environmental policy objectives.
You can see the ITV London segment, including my comments here.
PAC: DIGITAL SERVICES TAX REPORT
This week, I led the publication of the Public Accounts Committee’s report into the digital services tax.
The report explored the effectiveness of the tax, which has been introduced as a temporary measure to ensure large multinational corporations pay sufficient tax in the UK, in advance of an agreement on an international tax to achieve the same end. Our findings found that the tax had raised more than was initially expected, yet that companies were likely to try and circumvent it. More broadly, our work found that HM Revenue and Customs needed to improve its general performance on collecting tax, especially across multinational corporations.
Should you wish to read more about this, you can see an article in The Guardian here, or Financial Times here.
ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA ROUNDTABLE
Many constituents have emailed me to express their concern over the Arts Council England decision to cut funding for the English National Opera.
Last week I attended a roundtable with members of the ENO workforce to discuss the impact of the funding changes, as well as next steps to seek a review of Arts Council England’s decision. I will continue to support the cross-party effort to support the ENO and highlight the risk that the cut to funding poses to highly skilled professionals who work there.
CITY UK EVENT
Last week, I attended a breakfast event with business leaders working in financial and professional services, and participated in a Q&A session with attendees. We discussed the importance of stability in the economy to attract inward investment, action needed to mobilise finance to support Net Zero, and t