LABOUR MP Angela Smith, who has vested interests in the water industry, told a conference today that she backs private water suppliers over her party’s plans for renationalisation.
Ms Smith made a speech on the first day of the two-day Twenty65 conference in which she said that Labour’s commitment to renationalise the water monopolies is uncosted, undeveloped and should not be a priority policy.
Writing for the Times today, she states that Labour’s plan to nationalise the water industry would cost up to £90 billion.
However, this figure comes from a Social Market Foundation report that was commissioned by the water industry.
Ms Smith, a former shadow minister for water, is the chairwoman of the all-party water group — an MPs’ group funded almost entirely by the water industry, including suppliers such as Affinity Water, Northumbrian Water and Wessex Water.
In her speech and article, the MP for Penistone & Stocksbridge denounces the proposals promoted by shadow chancellor John McDonnell as ideological and an “expensive indulgence in the politics of the past.”
Ms Smith’s register of interests for 2016 show that she and her husband, whom she employs as her senior parliamentary researcher, were treated to football matches and dinner three times by Whitehouse Construction, a subcontractor to Anglian Water.
The subcontractor is also a member of the Future Water Association industry group led by private water companies that also fund the all party group for water that she chairs.
Last month, she spoke in the Commons on households’ lack of water supply during heavy snow.
She said that the “dreadful and unacceptable” situation of people going without water for days “would not be addressed by blunt tools such as nationalisation.”
Ms Smith called instead for “rigorous reform” of water regulator Ofwat to make it effective.
Ofwat has long been criticised by the Commons public accounts committee for allowing water monopolies to get away with overcharging customers who have no choice but to pay bills running into hundreds of pounds a year.
The water sector was privatised and split into 10 regional monopolies — and a small number of local suppliers — nearly 30 years ago in the wave of industrial and utility sell-offs ordered by Tory PM Margaret Thatcher.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.