HC Deb 06 March 1986 vol 93 cc438-9
9. Mr. Campbell-Savours

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when his review of finance and administration of land drainage and coast protection will be complete.

Mr. Gummer

Our aim is to complete the review as soon as possible.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Why were the conservation aspects of land drainage not addressed in the Government's most recent Green Paper on land drainage? Could the reason be that the argument between the Department of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food still rages and, as a result, no clear decisions can be taken? As privatisation now seems to be on the agenda, may we have assurances that there will be a new Green Paper and the fullest possible consultation on conservation aspects?

Mr. Gummer

The answer to the first part of the question is no, Sir. The answer to the second part is that there will be the fullest possible consultation on conservation interests.

Mr. Rathbone

Contrary to the politically inspired question by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), may I ask what my right hon. Friend is doing about the pressing need for coastal defence work along the coastline in Sussex around Seaford? This community is waiting upon certain bodies. Will my hon. Friend reconsider the parsimonious allocation this year?

Mr. Gummer

I shall look carefully at this matter. In my area of Anglia similar problems arise, and no firm decisions have yet been taken, but we are aware of my hon. Friend's concern and that of local authorities.

Mr. Home Robertson

As the Secretary of State for the Environment told the House on 5 February that land drainage and flood protection were the one responsibility of local authorities that would not be privatised, what residual public water authority will assume these responsibilities? I presume that the right hon. Gentleman must have a considerable constituency interest.

Mr. Gummer

I have important ministerial and constituency interests. When the time comes for us to continue our discussions, we shall produce some answers to that question.

Mr. Freud

When it comes to coastal protection, would it not be infinitely fairer if this were charged on central Government funds instead of on local ratepayers and water authorities?

Mr. Gummer

There are those who put that view, but there is also an argument and a case to say that those who benefit most particularly should make some major contribution towards it.

Mr. Ralph Howell

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the serious situation in my constituency, at Horsey? Will he give urgent attention to the problem of coastal protection there?

Mr. Gummer

This is primarily a matter for the Anglian water authority, but I shall look particularly at my hon. Friend's concern.

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