To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from coastal authorities on his proposed changes in the capital allocation for coastal protection works.
Representations have been received from a number of coastal local authorities, from Members of this House, and from others with an interest in this matter.
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the important coastal protection work now under way in my constituency to save Hengistbury Head? Will he confirm that the proposed changes in capital allocation for 1988–89 will not affect schemes already under way or being considered by his Department?
My hon. Friend has mistaken the concept. All that we have said is that although there will be 100 per cent. capital allocation, there will be some occasions on which we will not have sufficient funds to give that percentage. We shall, therefore, offer a lower rate to local authorities that can manage with a lower capital allocation. The change is not fundamental; it is merely a means of ensuring that we use all our capital allocation each year, rather than leave some unused because local authorities cannot have 100 per cent. of what they need.