Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:59 pm on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 12:59 pm, 4th March 2020

I agree we need action, but it was action we did not get during the floods. It was action we required from the Prime Minister to call a Cobra meeting that we did not get. It was action to unlock the necessary funding that we did not get. I agree we need action and hope he will support this motion so that we get a lessons learned review that helps Ministers to make better decisions next time and get the action he desperately wants.

The review we are asking for would look at how we learn lessons as a country, how the Government learn lessons and how the work and innovations of local communities can be recognised, but the Government’s amendment seeks to do only one thing: not learn the lessons of the flooding. It would delete the lessons learned review and silence the voices of flooded communities. I want the voices of those communities under water heard in the review we are proposing. I want to hear from the small business owners in Telford whose shops have been flooded about the difficulties they face replacing stock when insurance companies refuse to insure them. I want to hear from the farmers next to the River Severn who fear that their crops will have been destroyed by the water damage in their fields. I want to hear from the homeowners in west Yorkshire who have yet again had to wash dirty water from their homes, wash the smell of sewage from their homes, replace their furniture and carpets and worry about whether the insurance will pay out and how much the premiums will be next year, if they are to be covered at all. I want to hear the voices of the emergency services who have had their numbers cut and cut again by years of Tory austerity. I want to hear from the Welsh coal mining communities who are now living in fear of a landslide from water-sodden spoil tips.

I want to hear from all of them in this review, and yet Ministers have proposed an amendment that says they will not have a lessons learned review, will not look at what worked well and what did not, and will not ask communities what works for them. Every Tory MP who votes against our motion will be doing something very simple: refusing to listen and learn the lessons of the flooding and refusing to improve their response to flooding in a calm and independent manner. Those under water communities, many of which are represented by Conservative MPs, will wonder what happened to their Members of Parliament. When given an opportunity to get the voice of those communities heard, they will have decided to turn against that—that is not leadership.