9. Mr. B. Harrison
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will take powers to compensate persons whose land has been flooded by water draining from upland areas.
No, Sir. I do not think this would be practicable or appropriate. I would remind my hon. Friend that during the financial year 1961–62 Government grants for land drainage works, including flood protection, carried out by river boards and internal drainage boards amounted to £3,900,000.
Does not my hon. Friend realise that it is just the success of his upland drainage schemes which is causing the suffering to the people who are down nearer the sea wall? Because the rainwater drains off so quickly, it floods the lower land. Increasing the effectiveness of drainage higher up makes other people lose their livelihood.
I think that the reference to loss of livelihood is going a little far. As my hon. Friend says, it is true that water flows downhill, and it has been our principle to deal with drainage problems where they occur, and that means mainly at the lower levels. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend will have noticed that the Land Drainage Act, 1961, gives river boards permissive powers to levy additional charges on agricultural land, 417 including land in upland areas, to help them finance additional work.
In view of the importance of this matter, I beg to give notice that on the earliest occasion I shall raise it on the Adjournment.