HC Deb 08 March 1938 vol 332 cc1715-6
65. Viscount Elmley

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consider the possibility of promoting legislation with the object of treating damage caused by coast erosion and inadequate sea defences as matters of national concern, in view of the inability of local authorities to deal with these matters?

Captain Wallace

I would refer my Noble Friend to the answer given on 15th February to a similar question by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool (Mr. R. Robinson). Certain recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Coast Erosion were embodied in a Bill submitted to the House of Commons in 1929, but, in the absence of substantial agreement, the Bill was not proceeded with. In default of a very substantial measure of agreement, I regret that there is no prospect of legislation at present.

Viscount Elmley

Would my right hon. and gallant Friend reconsider this matter, especially as regards the type of emergency which occurred in Norfolk recently?

Captain Wallace

I am afraid that this type of emergency is not altogether a question for the President of the Board of Trade.

Sir Percy Harris

Does that mean that the Government are prepared to wait and do nothing, and allow England to be washed away?

Mr. Kirkwood

In the event of the Government putting up adequate defence against the sea encroaching on the land, who would be the owners of the land that is saved? Would it be the landlord class at the back of the House of Commons?

Mr. Holmes

Would the Minister be prepared to differentiate between cases which may be termed ordinary coast erosion and sea flooding, and cases of unexpected emergency which could not have been foreseen by those responsible for the particular area; and would he consider giving special treatment in the latter case?

Captain Wallace

I do not think that the second class of case really comes under the Board of Trade. It all depends on the definition of "foreshore," which is rather a technical definition.

Mr. Roland Robinson

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this trouble in Norfolk is likely to recur on or about 17th March, and will he not see that some action is taken before then?