HC Deb 29 October 1956 vol 558 cc1044-6
10. Mr. C. Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what instructions he has issued to the river boards following the flooding of agricultural land as a result of the heavy rainfall of recent months.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)

My Department keeps in very close touch with the river boards and no special guidance was necessary.

Mr. Hughes

Does not the Minister agree that the river boards can do a great deal to improve the position regarding agricultural drainage and avoid the possibility of widespread floods? Could he not prevail upon his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has imposed the credit squeeze upon these river boards, to realise that their work is coming to a standstill and release some funds to them?

Mr. Amory

I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says about the importance of this work, but I cannot agree with his statement about the work having nearly come to a stop. It has only been partially reduced and is proceeding now at a high rate. I am afraid that so long as the credit restrictions go on we are bound to look at each application pretty sternly. I do allow any scheme required on the ground of public health or safety, and I also look sympathetically at schemes which it is likely would avoid considerable damage to crops.

12. Mr. C. Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now put the recommendations of the Heneage Committee into operation.

Mr. Amory

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball) on 30th April last.

Mr. Hughes

Has not this report been in the hands of the Minister since 1951? Has he not now had enough time to consider it and decide whether he will implement it in whole or in part? Is it not a fact that if these recommendations of the Committee were implemented they would do a good deal to improve the agricultural drainage of this country, and a good deal to mitigate the sort of loss which was suffered during the recent flooding?

Mr. Amory

I think the short answer is "Yes." I believe it would, but unfortunately I have not yet succeeded in getting general agreement upon the main recommendation which would enable me to feel justified in proceeding to legislation. But I am seeing whether there is some limited progress which I can make in the fields where there is most agreement.

16. Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he proposes to take to improve land drainage arising from his inspection of flooded land in Yorkshire.

Mr. Amory

Responsibility for land drainage improvement work rests with the drainage authorities for the area. My Department is in touch with the Yorkshire Ouse River Board, which is proposing to convene a meeting of all concerned in the Goole area to discuss possible ways of effecting improvements in the drainage system.

Mr. Jeger

Will the Minister give his full co-operation and encouragement, financially as well as in every other way, to an improvement of the land drainage in that area?

Mr. Amory

I came away from my visit to that area impressed with the need for progress there. I shall look sympathetically at any proposals which are made.