Severe Weather Disruption

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 31st October 2000.

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Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Transport and the Regions) 3:31 pm, 31st October 2000

I welcome the Deputy Prime Minister's statement, especially given that only yesterday the Prime Minister's official spokesman told journalists that there were no plans for such a statement to be made. Interestingly, Mr. Alastair Campbell used a rather cryptic expression, saying, "The weather has been devolved." I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman understands what that means.

I join the right hon. Gentleman in offering sympathy to the bereaved families, and to those who have been injured. I also join him in congratulating both the emergency services and local authorities. Does he agree, however, that we should thank the many private individuals who have voluntarily given a great deal of support to those in greater need? In particular, will he congratulate Lewes council, which has had to deal with the problems of floods for more than two weeks?

Given that the right hon. Gentleman has rightly addressed, perhaps for the first time, genuine concern about the impact of global warming, leading to these particular problems, who does he think the Minister for the Environment had in mind when he said in The Guardian today: It is…remarkable that, during the recent fuel crisis hardly anyone mentioned the environment…? I wonder to whom the Minister for the Environment was referring.

Why did the Deputy Prime Minister say in his statement that the Government are offering more money for flood defences, when the figures, which he even read out, demonstrate that there is no increase whatever over and above inflation? Does he accept that, given that he has admitted that there is more likelihood of severe weather, there should be an increase in funding?