HARWICH and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin claims the Government has "got to do much better" when it comes to preventing sewage from being dumped into our rivers.

The Government's landmark Environment Bill is aimed at "increasing our resource efficiency and biodiversity" and at "driving improvements across air and water quality”, Defra minister Rebecca Pow said.

MPs agreed to a proposal to allow charges to be levied on all single-use items and not just those made of plastic as part of efforts to tackle the nation’s throwaway society.

It followed concerns existing materials could be replaced by alternatives to make disposable items, such as wooden cutlery, which come with their own environmental costs.

But MPs voted to remove a Lords amendment which aimed to clean up rivers by placing a new duty on water companies to reduce raw sewage discharges into rivers.

Tory MP Mr Jenkin, who votes the same way as other Conservative MPs on the vast majority of issues, was one of 22 MPs who rebelled in a failed bid to retain proposals designed to clean up rivers.

Mr Jenkin said that while he admires the Prime Minister for the Government’s progress on climate change, there is still much more to do.

He said: “I’m the first to admire the way that the Prime Minister has put the environment at the top of his Government’s agenda, and he is setting targets and putting this debate at the heart of the national debate.

"But we still (have) got to do much better. And I look at the machinery of Government, the machinery of Government is simply not up to this."

Mr Jenkin added that he was suprised by the large number of Conservative MPs who followed him into the opposition lobby for the vote.