West Country and Wales (Snow Storm)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd February 1978.

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Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath 12:00 am, 23rd February 1978

First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for joining in the tributes. I know that the fact that they have been made to all those concerned, to the local authorities and all the work people, and the fact that the tributes are supported on all sides of the House, will make them fully appreciated.

As for the hon. Gentleman's two questions, I can say now that the undertaking we have given about local authority expenditure means what it says. There is no need to wait for one week. I assume that the hon. Gentleman was referring to something said yesterday by the Association of District Councils to the effect that there is bureaucracy. I am able categorically to deny that. There are no foundations at all for the statement made yesterday by that organisation.

No claims have so far been received in respect of flood and gale damage. We have had a number of estimates, and as soon as the claims come in, we shall meet them. The only point on which we have to be satisfied is that the work has been done as a result of flood damage, or in this case as a result of the blizzard during the weekend. I hope that that clears up any uncertainty which might exist.

The question about insurance does not, I think, apply to local authority expenditure but it applies, possibly, to farmers. My right hon. Friend will take note of what is said. I am bound to say that it might cause very considerable difficulties if some people have insured their property and their livestock and others have not, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend will deal with this as sympathetically as he can.