Rivers Authorities and Land Drainage Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:00 pm on 8th February 2019.

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Photo of Peter Heaton-Jones Peter Heaton-Jones Conservative, North Devon 2:00 pm, 8th February 2019

As always, my hon. Friend makes an extraordinarily good point. A number of other arrangements and organisations are in place in North Devon and the wider county that seek to do that work. I was going to mention some of them, and my hon. Friend’s helpful contribution provides me with the perfect opportunity to move on—to the House’s relief—and to do that.

Another measure in the Bill that is relevant and significant for me in North Devon is the one that addresses the obstacles for the raising of expenses for certain internal drainage boards. If I heard my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome correctly, he has three IDBs in Somerset; I have one, the Braunton Marsh internal drainage board. I have had a lot to do with this organisation because historically Braunton, a large village in my constituency, has suffered serious flooding because of its location near the coast, on the fringes of the estuary. The main period of flooding, which some Members may remember, happened over Christmas in 2012. The village was the victim of flash flooding and many people were forced out of their homes over the entire Christmas period. Many businesses suffered, and some sadly closed because they never recovered from having to be closed during the floods.

I have spoken to the Minister and other Ministers about how we can deal with the victims of flooding. In particular, I have been involved in a lot of discussions about the Flood Re scheme and about the benefits or otherwise of some of the commercial insurers that provide support for businesses that might be the victims of flooding. There is more work to be done, but the Bill starts, if I may use this phrase, to build the foundations on which we can ensure provision for some of the bodies that provide valuable support and flood maintenance and flood prevention schemes, such as the IDBs, the Environment Agency, and in my constituency the Braunton Marsh inspectors, a fine body set up by a piece of legislation dating back to Victorian times. They all do sterling work. The Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome would add to that. It is welcome and I look forward to hearing the Minister—albeit a Cornish Member—voice his support for it shortly.