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 Hazel Blears Hazel Blears The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party 3:31 pm, 9th July 2007

The whole House will want to extend its condolences to Mr. Barnett's family about the terrible tragedy that happened. I think that I have already said that the emergency services that attended on that day found themselves in an especially harrowing situation. There will be a coroner's inquest, which will look at the circumstances, and it would be inappropriate to jump to any conclusions about what happened.

The hon. Gentleman says that we need better co-ordination. My experience has been that the police, the fire services, the ambulance service, the voluntary sector and business support organisations have come together as a result of recent events in a tremendous way. When he tries to say that they have not responded, he makes an unfair criticism. We have a system in this country of proper civil contingency preparation and we can be proud of it.

The hon. Gentleman also said that the climatic conditions are now the norm. Most organisations said that the weather was unprecedented: the amount of rain that fell in such a short time is the greatest since records began. That does not mean that it will not happen again—we must be prepared in future; prevention is better than cure—but the hon. Gentleman's failure to recognise that the circumstances are pretty unique does not reflect reality.