HC Deb 01 May 1930 vol 238 cc373-4
77. Mr. HARRIS

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the danger to the homes of a number of families because of the encroachment of the sea at Winchelsea beach; and whether, seeing that if there is a heavy sea many hundreds of acres will be inundated, he will consult with the Lord Privy Seal with a view to initiate public works there with the least possible delay?


The conditions at Winchelsea beach have been known to the Ministry for some years past, and the Ministry's chief drainage engineer made inspections on the 4th, 25th and 29th April. Repeated efforts have been made by the Ministry to secure the inclusion of this area in an adjoining drainage district, but these have been opposed locally owing to the heavy burden which the necessary remedial works would impose on the area. The fact is that until the Drainage Bill now before Parliament becomes law there are no statutory means available for dealing adequately with this case. The Ministry, however, is in communication with the county council in the hope that the owners may be induced to co-operate in a comprehensive scheme.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the sea and the tide will not wait for the Government to pass their Bill? Cannot some arrangement be made to keep out the sea by temporary work by arrangement with the Lord Privy Seal, as in the meantime people are in danger of losing their homes and property?


I am aware of the effect of the sea and the tide, but at the same time we can only administer the law as we find it.


Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House whether it is a fact that one of the landowners has been thrown into the sea there?


We have made repeated efforts to secure the inclusion of the area in a scheme for some years past, and there has been some objection by local owners. They are now paying the penalty.


In view of the imminence of danger to life in that area, cannot emergency steps be taken in the matter?


I can assure my hon. Friend that we are doing everything that we can.