Flooding (England)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 9th July 2007.

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Photo of John Prescott John Prescott Labour, Kingston upon Hull East 3:31 pm, 9th July 2007

As a Back Bencher, I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement. I echo the praise of the people of Hull for the emergency services, the voluntary services and the local authority workers—they all worked tremendously hard. The floods damaged more than 5,000 houses in Hull, closed many schools—4,000 children were looking for a school—and caused great damage. Tragically, a man was killed in the process of trying to stop the floods and help a neighbour. In those circumstances, it is easy to understand why the people of Hull think that they are the worst affected on this occasion.

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that in the past seven years, we have had floods in Carlisle, York, and Boscastle, and now we have floods in the Yorkshire area? These events are not just a matter of exceptional weather, although of course that is part of it. They are happening much more frequently. We had better begin to recognise that we have fundamentally to review our whole water management system. In particular, I draw her attention to the drains and sewage that have contaminated so many houses and schools. Cleaning those buildings will take a long time—even before the repairs start. No doubt we will determine the long-term consequences. In view of the fact that the Government have committed some money for immediate application, will my right hon. Friend ensure that that clean-up is considered not only by her Department, but by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, so that we can get youngsters back to school and people back into their houses? We have to do that. Will she send some officials to Hull to discuss how we can use that money immediately? I thank her for all her efforts, and particularly for agreeing a few days after the floods to send a Minister to Hull.