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Flood Defence

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) total remuneration and (b) benefits will be received by the Chairman of the Wessex Flood Control Committee. [115596]

The Chairman will receive £15,195 per annum based on a time input of five days per month. This payment is not pensionable.He may in addition claim travel and subsistence expenses incurred away from his normal place of work, and any other expenses necessarily incurred on business in line with the expenses guidance for Committee Chairmen issued by the Environment Agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the job description is of the chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee; and how many hours per week he is contracted for. [115597]

The specification sent to applicants stated as follows:"Applicants will need to demonstrate an interest in and knowledge of flood and coastal defence matters; experience of chairing meetings at a senior level; excellent communication skills; good knowledge of their regions; a balanced and broad understanding of relevant environmental issues; and the ability to liaise with a wide range of interest groups. No specific academic or professional qualifications are required and there are no age limits for these appointments. Applicants must have sufficient energy and dynamism to cope with a demanding role.Applicants should have a background of successful achievement in the area covered by the Committee. They should have proven representational skills and the ability to deal with people at all levels. They also need good chairmanship skills to be able to bring together differing interests and opinions to ensure the Committee works efficiently and effectively. They need intellectual skills to be able to find solutions when faced with conflicting demands."The Chairman of he Wessex Regional Flood Defence Committee is appointed on the basis of five days input per month.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what safeguards there are to prevent conflicts of interest by Flood Defence Committee chairmen. [115598]

This is explored at interview with candidates, who are asked to make sure that there are no conflicts of interest.Chairmen are issued with various guidance documents along with their formal instrument of appointment, including: Cabinet Office Guidance on Codes of Practice for Members of Public Bodies; and guidance on political activities.Their letter of appointment specifically says that they "should avoid situations in which their official duties and private interests conflict or where there would be a suspicion of conflict. Relevant interests should be entered in the Register of Interests maintained by the Environment Agency and the entry kept up to date. Guidance on conflicts of interest wi11 be provided by the Environment Agency and should be adhered to". The letter also informs them of the provisions of the House of Commons Disqualification Act.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people applied for the post of Wessex Flood Defence Committee Chairman. [115600]

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) employment and (b) membership of political parties was declared by the new chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee. [115601]

Humphrey Temperley declared that he is currently Executive Director of the European Nature Trust. He was at the time of application Chair of the Parrett Catchment Project Management Group. Since then he has informed us that he has resigned the position with a replacement chair taking over from 7 May 2003. He has also informed us that he will be terminating his consultancy contract with the Group from 30 June 2003. Other positions declared by Mr. Temperley were: Executive Chair of Somerset Flood Defence Committee since July 2000, following membership of the committee since 1985; Corporate Performance Assessor (Part-time) for the Audit Commission 2002–03; self employed consultant providing environmental policy advice; Chair of Exmoor National Park Authority 1993–2001; Chair of Somerset County Council 2000–01; CountyCouncillor 1985–2001; District Councillor 1983–1999. Current voluntary interests: Chair Corporate Forum for National Parks; Co-opted Council member, Council for National Parks; Trustee of two small charitable environmental trusts; Member, Exmoor Consultative Forum and the Exmoor Society; Member, England Forestry Forum; Member, SWRDA rural policy advisory group.In relation to political involvement, Mr Temperley stated that he was an elected County and District Councillor 1983–2001; Yeovil Constituency Chair for two years; Parliamentary candidate for Wells, 1992; and politically inactive since 2000. Mr. Temperley said that his activity was undertaken for the Liberal Democrats.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee will take up his post. [115602]

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the need to in crease the Thames flood defence measures as part of the planning for the Thames Gateway project; and if she will make a statement. [115797]

The government recognises that flood risk management is crucial to the successful development of the Thames Gateway. In order to improve understanding of the likely effect of the Thames Gateway construction on existing and future flood management arrangements, my department has consulted with the Environment Agency. As a result, the Agency has accelerated plans for a strategic flood risk assessment of the Thames Gateway Zones of Change.This study is scheduled for completion at the end of May 2003, but early indications are that cost effective and sustainable flood risk management within the Thames Gateway, can be achieved by creative and intelligent planning and design. This will require close partnership working between the government and all agencies and developers involved. This strategic approach also opens up opportunities for significant enhancement of the environment that would not be possible if development is undertaken in an uncoordinated way. There are financial and environmental benefits to be gained from developing the Thames Gateway in a careful and sustainable way, including building flood defences at the time of development rather than later, or by allowing sufficient space for future defence construction in the development.