Damian Green has claimed that swimming in sewage used to be regarded as “acceptable” in the past.
The Tory MP argued that attitudes towards sewage dumping have changed in recent years, with people less inclined to want to swim in discharges than they used to be.
Speaking to Anushka Asthana on ITV he said: “I remember as a child in South Wales swimming in sewage.
“It was sort of regarded as acceptable.”
It comes as water companies apologised over recent sewage dumps.
Environment Agency figures earlier this year showed there were a total of 301,091 sewage spills in 2022, an average of 824 a day.
Ruth Kelly, chair of Water UK, said: “The message from the water and sewage industry today is clear – we are sorry.
“More should have been done to address the issue of spillages sooner and the public is right to be upset about the current quality of our rivers and beaches.
“We have listened and have an unprecedented plan to start to put it right. This problem cannot be fixed overnight, but we are determined to do everything we can to transform our rivers and seas in the way we all want to see.”
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