HC Deb 07 November 1960 vol 629 cc637-8
23. Mr. Hayman

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what he proposes to do about the flooding in the West Country.

Mr. Soames

I am in touch with the river boards of the areas concerned. All proposals from the river boards designed to alleviate flooding are receiving immediate consideration for grant-aid.

Mr. Hayman

Is the Minister aware that the smallness of the grants provided for in the Land Drainage Bill has come as a shock to the West Country? As there is very serious flooding elsewhere, will he take steps to see that the financial provisions of the Bill are expanded before it comes up for Second Reading?

Mr. Soames

I should not like to prejudge the Second Reading of the Bill. The grants are affected by the amount of money which is raised on precept rate locally. The Bill will add another section of the population to those already subscribing towards river board funds, and the degree to which grants are available is well known to local authorities and river boards.

Mr. Wilkins

The Minister should think again about this. As recently as Thursday of last week there was water on either side of the railway line between Taunton and Bridgwater for as far as the eye could see. This state of affairs has persisted since long before the war. When will the Government do something to protect these people? The situation is absolutely shocking down in Somerset and Devon.

Mr. Soames

I cannot answer without notice the hon. Gentleman's statement that the present situation between Taunton and Bridgwater is a common occurrence. Generally speaking, it is important to bear in mind that the rains we have experienced in the past few weeks have been three, and even four, times the normal rainfall in certain areas.