§ 3.5 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH had given Notice of a Question: "To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they propose to take for the alleviation of the damage and distress caused by the exceptional floods, especially in rural areas." The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I think that the terms of the Question I have on the Order Paper are not necessary, because a statement on this matter was made yesterday, but, if your Lordships will permit me, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether or not anything more specific can be said with regard to immediate help. I understand that already local authorities are beginning to write to Government Departments about this matter, and we are very anxious to see an alleviation of the distress as early as possible.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD (EARL WALDEGRAVE)
My Lords, it is difficult to give answers about specific help. As the noble Viscount has said, certain local authorities have already written in to my right honourable friend and told him that they would hope for help. These requests are being most urgently considered as to whether or not they fall to be met, but it is not possible to say yet whether, and, if so, to which local authorities, specific assistance will require to be given. But the immediate disasters—flooded houses, for example—have been most fully looked after by local voluntary services and local authorities, as I told your Lordships yesterday.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Earl. I believe that 148 he is to speak in the debate next Tuesday, and perhaps he may be able to give us a progress report then.
§ LORD LATHAM
My Lords, having regard to the additional expenditure asked for by local authorities, could the noble Earl also state whether the block grant will be proportionately adjusted?
My Lords, as my right honourable friend said in another Place yesterday, if, when claims from local authorities have been examined, he considers that there has been an undue rate burden placed on any local authority that matter will be most carefully and sympathetically considered.