HC Deb 07 March 1979 vol 963 cc1250-1
17. Mr. Hicks

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what changes he proposes introducing to alter the basis for eligibility for grant aid and loan sanction for local authorities to undertake coastal protection schemes; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Denis Howell

None at present. However, I intend, when resources permit, to review both the provisions of the Coast Protection Act 1949 and the way in which it is administered.

Mr. Hicks

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that, under the existing arrangements, there are certain inconsistencies and anomalies between grant-aid available for new schemes on the one hand, and renovations on the other, particularly where private households are involved and where these homes form the sea wall? Is not there an urgent need for a review of the arrangements, specifically bearing in mind what has happened in villages in Devon and Cornwall this winter?

Mr. Howell

I agree with much of what the hon. Gentleman has said. That is why I want to put such a survey in hand as soon as I can. The Act has been in force since 1949. It produces tremendous disparities, particularly in Government grants, which range widely from 24 per cent. to 79 per cent. I hope that we can make progress as soon as resources are available.