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Farmland, Somerset (Flooding)

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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29.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to relieve the farming land in the Long Sutton Machelney area from chronic flooding.

The Somerset River Board is the responsible authority, and is carrying out drainage improvement works in this area with grant-aid from the Department.

While I am grateful for that information, which I have known for a long time, may I ask whether my hon. Friend is aware that this problem, which has existed for the last eight or ten years and is getting worse, is beyond the resources of the river board, which has a great many other problems to deal with anyhow? In this case, a number of farmers are being deprived of their land year after year. The land is being ruined and it is not good enough to go on like this. Will my hon. Friend have a good look at the matter and accept that it is quite intolerable that people should have their land used as a receptacle for other people's drainage?

While I do not accept all that my hon. Friend says, we have done a good deal more than simply look at the matter. We are offering the board 80 per cent. grant for substantial work, which it is now undertaking, to help conditions in the area, and the board hopes to have one important work, a new pumping drain, in operation before the end of the summer. This will give a measure of immediate relief and it is the forerunner of other work to follow.

Will the hon. Gentleman look again at the Motion on the Order Paper signed by approximately a hundred hon. Members on the question of water conservation and flooding, and see whether he cannot produce a much more comprehensive plan to solve not only this Problem but others like it?