HC Deb 19 March 1998 vol 308 cc1396-7
3. Mr. Tyrie

If he will make a statement about resources made available for sea defences. [33753]

Mr. Morley

Allocations for MAFF grants and credit approvals to operating authorities for capital flood and coastal defence works in 1998–99 are at the same levels as plans proposed last year by the previous Government. For future years, the funding level will depend on the outcome of the comprehensive spending review.

Mr. Tyrie

Is the Minister aware that the cost of emergency repairs at Selsey in my constituency is approaching £500,000 and that that money is coming from the Environment Agency budget that was originally earmarked for making more permanent repairs? Is that not a Catch-22 situation, because the more money is spent on emergency repairs, the less is available for making the sea defences permanent? Will the Minister assure my constituents that the Government will make available the resources necessary to bring an end to that absurd situation?

Mr. Morley

I can confirm that, because of the particular problems on the Sussex coast, extra resources have been available in relation to the grant-earning ceiling. That has been raised from the original allocation of £3 million to £3.9 million, which takes into account the points that the hon. Gentleman makes about the need for emergency repairs and the fact that the cost of permanent repairs has increased.

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