§ Mr. Michael Brown
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will publish the consultation paper on "Land Drainage and Coast Protection"; what matters will be covered therein; and what further action the Government propose to take.
§ Mr. Jopling
A Green Paper, entitled "The Financing and Administration of Land Drainage, Prevention of Flooding and Coast Protection in England and Wales", is being published today for public comment. The paper examines the current arrangements for financing and administering land drainage, flood prevention and coast protection, and in particular current and future financing arrangements, the structure of water authorities' land drainage committees, and the administration of internal drainage districts.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has considered the question of departmental responsibility for coast protection; responsibility for the storm tide warning service; payment of grant aid on land drainage schemes straddling the border between England and Wales; and the calling of public inquiries into land drainage matters. She has decided to transfer responsibility for coast protection in England from the Department of the Environment to my Department. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales already exercises responsibility for both land drainage and coast protection for Wales. Other changes in responsibilities, proposals for which are set out in the Green Paper, would be made at a later date.
The Government will consider, in the light of reactions to the Green Paper, what changes in the law relating to the financing and administration of land drainage and coast protection should be proposed. In this connection they will take account of the examination of the possibilities of privatisation in the water industry announced by my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction during the debate on the Water Authority (Return on Assets) Orders on 7 February. Whatever the outcome of that examination, the financial and administrative issues raised in the Green Paper require consideration.
The Green Paper does not apply to Scotland where different arrangements exist.