HC Deb 01 February 1955 vol 536 cc873-5
4 and 5. Mr. Patrick Maitland

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) whether he will consider ordering a survey of flooding problems in Scotland, with a view to preparing a national plan to avert the annual loss of food production due to this cause; during the four weeks ended 22nd January, 1955. These figures represent approximately the number of cases in the active stages of the disease at the stated dates.

Mr. Hughes

Can the Minister say at this stage whether the figures are falling or rising?

Commander Galbraith

There has been a considerable fall since the figures were given to the hon. and learned Gentleman early in October or the beginning of November. The fall is from 97 to the figures which I have just given.

Following is the table:

(2) whether he will now consider introducing legislation to enable local authorities to undertake flood protection work and to provide financial assistance, along the lines of legislation dealing with coast erosion.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. McNair Snadden)

A survey of the kind mentioned would not serve any useful purpose at present. A good deal of information is already available on the subject, and we are constantly adding to it. As my hon. Friend knows, the difficulty has been to devise legislative means of dealing with the problem that will be acceptable to the interests concerned. His interesting suggestion will certainly be examined, but my right hon. Friend cannot indicate a prospect of immediate legislation.

Mr. Maitland

While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that Scotland is a poor country and can ill afford this annual scourge of flooding, which decreases our food production very seriously? Is he also aware that although much information is to hand, there is very little information to hand about the conditions in the Clyde Valley; and will he pursue his inquiries with all possible energy, as the matter is urgent?

Mr. Snadden

I would remind my hon. Friend that we have been endeavouring to get agreement with regard to legislation, and discussions are still going on. We have not yet reached agreement.

Mr. Ross

I hope the Minister realises that most of his reply is disappointing. Is he aware that there is an urgent need for overall responsibility for many of the rivers in Scotland, and that this matter does not only affect the low-lying areas, which would be of good agricultural value, but that a difficulty is also arising in the case of industrial properties, and that production may be seriously affected, particularly in Kilmarnock?

Major McCallum

Will my hon. Friend consider giving publicity to those interests who will not come in with anyone else in a neighbouring village, because that is what is holding up matters?

Mr. Snadden

My hon. and gallant Friend will realise that a great number of interests have to be consulted on the question of the maintenance of schemes after completion. It is not easy to get everyone to agree, but we are doing our best to get agreement on dealing with the problem.