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Severn Flood (Conference)

Volume 436: debated on Monday 28 April 1947

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asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has considered the representations from local authorities in Shropshire arising from a conference held at Shrewsbury on Tuesday, 15th April, between representatives of authorities whose areas adjoin the River Severn and officers of the Severn Catchment Board, in regard to action which should be taken to prevent the constant recurrence of severe flooding, which causes so much loss and misery in the river valley area; and if he will make a statement thereon, following consideration of the matter as between himself and the Ministers of Health and Town and Country Planning, to whom representations have also been conveyed from the conference.

I am aware of the resolution passed at the conference to which my hon. Friend refers. I have now received a comprehensive report from the River Severn Catchment Board covering the recent floods in all parts of the catchment area. This will be considered, and as soon as practicable discussions will take place with the Board with a view to devising and pressing forward further long-term improvement works for flood alleviation.

Is the Minister satisfied that the present resources and powers of Catchment Boards are adequate to deal with such crises as occurred recently?

I do not think that there are sufficient resources in the country to deal with the unprecedented floods which we have had during the past few weeks.

In view of the severity of the floods and gales, would not the Minister send these representations to the Churches, asking them why they have fallen down on their job?

Cannot the Minister give some indication of the powers of Catchment Boards, and whether those powers can be extended to deal with similar crises which may occur in future?

I can assure my hon. Friend that I have called for reports from every Catchment Board in areas which have been affected by floods, and I hope that examination of those reports will show the causes for breaks, and will make suggestions for future action, after which we shall be able to decide what is the best thing to be done in future to deal with such a situation in those and other areas.