SIR: In his brief appreciation of the life of the late Sir David Amess (Letter from Westminster, October 21) Steve Brine said that his former colleague understood that constituency comes first and recounted that he had told him early on his parliamentary career that “it is the day job”.

Odd, therefore, that Mr Brine completely ignored the interests of his constituents during the debate on the Environment Bill in the House of Commons on October 20 when he voted with the government against a series of amendments proposed by the House of Lords. In particular, he voted in favour of a government amendment to Lord’s Amendment 45 that removed crucial wording that would have imposed a duty on sewerage companies to ensure untreated sewage is NOT discharged from storm drains. It can not be in our interests for the likes of Southern Water to continue to poison our rivers and seas, a point very well made in the debate by Mr Brine’s Tory colleague Tim Loughton whose constituents are also “served” by the same company. Some Tory members voted against the government’s changes to the Lord’s amendment showing that they had the courage to stand up for their constituents against their party. But not Steve Brine.

When earlier this year Southern Water was fined heavily for deliberately discharging vast volumes of sewage I wrote to Mr Brine twice urging him to take the matter up with George Eustace the environment minister. I did not get a response. But I very much doubt that I was the only one of Mr Brine’s constituents who was appalled by the company’s behaviour and raised their concerns.

Mr Brine professes to care about the environment but his actions show that his commitment is shallow. In his defence Mr Brine has posted a Downing Street inspired “explanation” on his website that makes various unsubstantiated claims about the costs of imposing such a duty on the water companies. I for one remain unconvinced. We need an MP who will stand up for our interests.

Martin Holmes,

Culverwell Gardens,


SIR: I listened with great interest to the discussion on the Radio 4 Today programme on October 25, discussing the issue of the discharge of raw sewage from storm overflows into our rivers.

This is an issue very close to home as we are fortunate that we have two treasured but vulnerable world recognised chalk rivers, the Test and Itchen on our doorstep. The discussion was eye watering. Water companies have spent 1.5 million hours dumping raw sewage into our rivers. They continue to put profit first and pay out to shareholders before their environmental responsibilities are met. Local to home, Southern Water was fined £90 million for unlawful sewage discharges when it should have been investing in solutions. It is a clear failure of OFWAT, the Environmental Agency and Government to live up to their responsibilities, all have failed to take the issue seriously.

The Environmental Bill currently going through Parliament demonstrates this clearly. The Government had an opportunity to support a Lords amendment which would have put the onus on water companies not only to report but to plan, invest and so reduce discharges from storm overflows and therefore reduce the harm to our waterways, in effect holding water companies to proper account. The Government instead voted in watering down and weakening existing legislation and now only requires water companies to report back once a year on storm discharges.

I was disappointed to note that our local MP Steve Brine, bearing in mind he has the River Itchen running through the centre of his constituency, voted in favour of the Government and in so doing allows the water companies to dampen down their responsibilities.

Mike Moore,

Park Road,