§ Mr. Sayeed
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations the Government have received on the level of insurance premiums being demanded of homeowners whose property lies in an area classified as a high flood risk; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Morley
The Government maintain close links with the insurance industry to help ensure continued availability of affordable flood cover. Together with the flood defence operating authorities, we are reducing the risk of flooding and are communicating this to the industry. However, it must be recognised that insurance companies need to take a commercial decision as to what risk they will cover and on what terms.
The agreement among ABI members is that they will continue to provide flood cover, except in exceptional circumstances, for domestic properties and small businesses which they currently insure, during 2001 and 2002. My hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and I met the Association of British Insurers on 5 September to discuss our mutual aim of ensuring that affordable flood insurance cover continues to be generally available after December 2002. Further discussions between officials have taken place.
In relation to the concerns expressed by the ABI, the Government are acting to reduce flood risk, through substantial increases in investment in flood and coastal defence (which now totals over £400 million a year). Flood defences are being repaired, renewed, maintained and improved. Flood warning arrangements are continually being improved. The Government have issued strengthened guidance to local planning authorities on control of development in flood risk areas, and are reviewing the financial and institutional arrangements under which the flood defence service is delivered.
§ Mr. Sayeed
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the efficacy of the flood risk area analysis, conducted by the Environment Agency; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Morley
No formal assessment has been made by my Department. The Environment Agency flood plain maps are completed on the basis of the best information available. They are indicative only. A party seeking a more specific site related flood risk analysis should seek further, more detailed, local information from the Environment Agency, and/or carry out further investigations to determine the nature and extent of flood risk within a particular area. The maps are continuously improved and updated on an annual basis as better information is gained.
The agency is currently in the process of extending the scope of this mapping to provide an indication of an extreme flood outline for the whole of England and Wales which will give a better indication of the range of potential flood risk in many areas. It is expected that these maps will be published before the end of 2002.