Valuation of other land in drainage district

Part of Rivers Authorities and Land Drainage Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 11th March 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:15 pm, 11th March 2019

To answer the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, internal drainage boards operate in a quite different way. Effectively, cash comes from local councils, which appoint people to them, and there are people who have to pay the drainage rates—that relates to agricultural land. They carry out their own elections and make decisions together. The local businesses will be ones that are concerned with agricultural land, and they run their own election process. I hope that that provides the hon. Gentleman with some reassurance.

I am conscious of the issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness that there is not a separate way of accounting for the item in question on the council tax bill. I am sure he recognises that it is not possible under the Bill to change the existing arrangements by which councils might want to show clearly how money is raised, or, indeed, other aspects of the referendum. However, I assure him that if people in his area, working with the councils, want to come forward on the matter of a rivers authority, it would be open to them to do so if they believed that the benefits would outweigh those of their current arrangement.

I reiterate that the Government support the changes. In my area the East Suffolk internal drainage board operates exceptionally well and, with the de-maining pilot, will take on further responsibilities for certain rivers in the area, with no extra cost to councils or indeed agricultural landowners. I believe that IDBs are generally a force for good. They are a key part of the Cumbria flood action plan.