HC Deb 24 January 1978 vol 942 cc508-9W
Mr. Freud

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he will publish in the Official Report an estimate of damage caused in and around the town of Wisbech by last week's floods; and what compensation from central and local government will be available;

(2) whether he will publish in the Official Report the extent of damage to industry in and around Wisbech caused by last week's floods and what compensation will be available from central Government.

Mr. Marks

On Wednesday 18th January 1978 I visited Wisbech and other places most seriously affected by the floods of the 11th-12th January. I toured the area with members and officials of the council, inspected damaged property and talked to the residents of the many flooded homes. I was most impressed by the magnificent work of the local authorities and all concerned in giving relief, alleviating distress and carrying out emergency repairs.

It is for the local authorities in the area to decide what, if any, compensation for losses they will provide. The Government, through the Supplementary Benefits Commission, have made, and are making, cash payments to people for urgent needs such as food, fuel, replacement of necessary clothing and essential articles; payments are also available to those who are unable to carry on their employment because of the floods. Apart from this the Government would not expect to give, or contribute towards, compensation for normally insurable losses.

It is, however, too early yet to expect the local authorities to have made a full assessment of the damage to property in the area, its effects and cost of restoration, but I have asked the local authority for an immediate broad estimate of expenditure which it has incurred or anticipates incurring.