HC Deb 26 February 1963 vol 672 cc1068-9
10. Mr. Turner

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement regarding the recent floods in North Borneo and Sarawak and the resultant loss of life and damage.

Mr. Fisher

I apologise for the length of this reply. The floods in many areas in both territories were the worst on record. I regret to say that at least 21 people are believed to have lost their lives. One British Service man was drowned.

Very serious damage has occurred to property but, as the high water had not yet receded in some areas, it cannot yet be fully assessed. At least 26,500 people have been driven from their homes and have lost their crops. In many cases their houses have been destroyed.

The two Governments, with the help of the British Services and of voluntary organisations on the spot, to which I am glad to pay the warmest tribute, took extensive and immediate relief measures; civilians were evacuated from danger areas, and food and medical supplies were rushed in, often by helicopter.

Rehabilitation plans are now being worked out, and as a first step quick-growing crops are to be planted.

I am sure the House, which has already been informed of the contributions by the British Government of $M100,000 to each territory, will wish to convey its sympathy to those in the stricken areas and particularly to the relatives of those who have lost their lives.

Mr. Turner

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. In view of the widespread nature of the flooding and the gravity of the situation, may I ask whether it would be thought appropriate to launch a national appeal in this country so that these territories may be assisted should the local assistance from their own flood relief funds not be sufficient? Will Her Majesty's Government pay particular attention to those kampongs which have done so much in self-help, by the building of roads and other facilities, to assist in the development of these territories?

Mr. Fisher

So far, I have received no requests for further assistance. Flood relief funds have been set up locally, as no doubt the hon. Gentleman knows, and contributions from private people and institutions are being received and are very welcome. I understand that there is also a students' fund in this country. I will consider whether a major scheme should be launched, but it is rather a long time after the event for that to be done.

Forward to