Flood Protection (Government Spending)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 12th June 2014.

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Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation, NATO Parliamentary Assembly (President) 9:30 am, 12th June 2014

What recent discussions his Department has had with the UK Statistics Authority on the publication of official statistics of figures on Government spending on flood protection.

Photo of Dan Rogerson Dan Rogerson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Positive discussions have been held with the UK Statistics Authority about the publication of flood protection expenditure. We are in the final stages of firming up proposals, after which we will write to the hon. Gentleman giving the details. The robustness of the figures is already assured by our strict finance processes, and we will provide additional context for the benefit of a full range of users.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation, NATO Parliamentary Assembly (President)

I remind the House that in February the head of the UK Statistics Authority wrote to me saying that the figures published by DEFRA on flood protection spending were unreliable, and expressing a preference for figures published in future to be quality-controlled by his department as official statistics. I think that that would do a great deal to restore public confidence that the Government are spending what is needed on flood protection. Can the Minister assure me that the Department will agree to do that, and will he make a public announcement before the summer recess?

Photo of Dan Rogerson Dan Rogerson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I know that the hon. Gentleman has a long-standing interest in this matter, and that he has met my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to discuss it. He will doubtless be reassured to know that we are investing more in flood defences than the last Government. However, it is right for us to ensure that those figures are in the public domain. In his letter, the chair of the UKSA said that he broadly agreed with the statistics, but that they were not currently available for his assessment and he would need to look at them. We are discussing with the UKSA what it is best to do, and, as I have said, we will write to the hon. Gentleman when the process is complete.