HC Deb 12 November 1968 vol 773 cc193-4
10. Dr. David Kerr

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what contribution he proposes to make to the flood relief funds in Wandsworth.

12. Mr. Channon

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what financial and other help his Department is proposing to give to those who suffered in the recent floods in South-East England.

Mr. Greenwood

I hope to announce the Government contribution within a few days. The apportionment among appeal funds will be made when all claims on those funds have been assessed.

Dr. Kerr

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he will take notice that what is in the mind of the public is the need for urgency in bring help? It is no use telling people, when their walls are covered with slime and their carpets are rotting, that they will have the money in future. Will the Minister in future look to a more speedy response to the problem?

Mr. Greenwood

There must be a speedy response all round. The help that the Government gave in a practical sense at the time of the floods was considerable. The difficulty about announcing a financial contribution is that there have been over 40 flood relief funds established. Until they have completed an appraisal of the damage in their areas and the consequent financial liabilities, it is impossible for the Government to gauge the size of the contribution which would be appropriate.

Mr. Channon

Does the Minister realise that it is now nearly two months since this disaster happened? It is a matter of the utmost urgency that people should know exactly what the extent of Government relief will be. Will the Minister give an undertaking to make a statement in this House so that hon. Members are made fully aware of the situation and can question him about this vital matter affecting their constituencies?

Mr. Greenwood

I am always available to be questioned by hon. Members. But the hon. Gentleman must bear in mind that most of these flood relief funds are worked by volunteers whose time is limited. They have undertaken a complex job. Until they have substantially completed their work, the Government are unable to intimate the exact amount of the contribution that will be made.