Floods

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th November 1960.

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Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset 12:00 am, 14th November 1960

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware that recent flooding in Dorset was largely due to broken sluices and obstructions in the upper reaches of brooks and rivers; and whether he will make available to the appropriate authorities grants to assist clearance, and introduce legislation to enable them to carry out such work themselves.

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

The recent exceptional rainfall may well have revealed defficiencies in the existing works in some areas and, if a river board decides to put forward a scheme which includes a substantial element of improvement work, this will be sympathetically considered for grant aid. I have no statutory authority to make grants available for works which are solely designed to repair damage, but local authorities will be able to include the cost of first aid works with other flood expenses which are not eligible for grant aid, in submitting claims to the Government for special assistance; this was outlined in the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government on 2nd November.

Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset

Is the Minister aware that quite a lot of this action will have to be taken by local authorities, and the sum set aside, according to the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, seems rather inadequate for the purpose.

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

Perhaps that will come up for discussion on the Bill.

Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware of the recent serious flooding in Bridport, that serious flooding took place there as far back as 1954, and that despite this warning only minor works have been carried out by the river board and not the major works necessary; and whether he will authorise the river board to proceed with these works forthwith.

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

I understand that flooding at Bridport was caused by water from the upland areas of the River Asker. In 1956, the river board carried out two improvement schemes on the River Brit, into which the River Asker flows. It has since taken over responsibility for part of the River Asker and is preparing an improvement scheme. I shall gladly consider it for grant aid when it is received.

Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this matter is really urgent in view of the fact that, since the Heneage Committee reported, there has been serious flooding in Bridport on no less than four occasions, including each of the last two years?

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

When the river board submits this improvement scheme, I will gladly look at it as a matter of urgency.

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will arrange for immediate financial aid to be given river boards who wish to start urgent repair work on undesignated rivers in order to prevent further flooding.

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

I know of no such case, but if the hon. Member will let me have details of any particular case, I will gladly arrange for my officers to discuss it with the river board concerned.

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that will give great satisfaction to the local councils which have a great deal of immediate repair work to do? I hope he will be generous when he deals with the cases I shall bring to his notice.