Upper Catchment Management

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:26 pm on 26th April 2017.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central 5:26 pm, 26th April 2017

It is a shame that that ambition will not be met, by the early calling of the general election. Clearly we want to ensure that there is a strong evidence base. The Minister talks about eye-watering sums. To say that we should not go ahead and build a strong evidence base to ensure that money is spent wisely is something I find deeply concerning, especially as she did not state the criteria she was looking at.

The world outside is saying that this research is so groundbreaking that they want to see it continue. That is why we have even seen organisations such as the Moorland Association committing £100,000 to the research. The cost of the research has been reduced. In the light of that reduced cost to the Minister’s Department, I want to know whether she would reconsider the opportunity to build a sound evidence base through a unique piece of research on catchment management, including biodiversity and soil, water and air quality. It could make such a significant difference for such a small spend.

I cannot comprehend not doing so, and nor will my constituents. I have to say that I did not invite the Minister to my constituency. I do not believe she would be very welcome there, because she is not putting funding into an issue that has turned out to be catastrophic for them. I know from meeting my constituents that they really want this research to go ahead.

Rather than being so stubborn, why does the Minister not go back and look at the research? She did not talk about the detail of the research, so I am not even convinced that she has read it. [Interruption.] Well, it does not seem, from her gestures, that she has looked at the detail of the research, which is negligent on her part. The research is powerful and says how important it is that we carry out this work. Given what flooding has cost my constituents personally, let alone financially, doing a bit of research to build an evidence base for policy making will make a difference.

When we are talking about looking to the future and building a sound evidence base, this academic research—[Interruption.] I am trying to concentrate on what I am saying, but the Minister seems to want to mutter her way through my concluding remarks. The reality is that we need to ensure investment is put into building a strong evidence base.