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Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 9 December 2009

9. What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the operation of the provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 in relation to the recent floods in Cumbria. (304989)

I know that the hon. Lady recently visited the affected area to see for herself the impact of the flooding and to meet emergency responders. All sides of the House have paid tribute to PC Bill Barker, who lost his life.

Despite the unprecedented nature of the rainfall that occurred, the prompt and effective response to the flooding in Cumbria was exemplary, due to meticulous and effective preparation by local and national responders working through the framework set out in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. As part of the ongoing Civil Contingencies Act enhancement programme, we will ensure that any lessons that can be learned from events such as this are used to enhance our guidance even further, but tribute must be paid to those respondents who worked together during this time.

Will the Minister join me in congratulating those wardens on the ground in Cumbria who were there knocking on doors and evacuating people, thanks to the warning? Obviously, we regret the loss of PC Barker. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 seems to be working, but we need more wardens of the type that we saw in Cumbria.

The hon. Lady makes the valid point that we must congratulate those people and wardens on the ground, and I completely endorse her sentiments. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 has been working, and it provides a framework that has now been well established. We will continue to look at any lessons that can be learned from that and ensure that it is enhanced further.

Would the Minister like to congratulate the emergency services and the armed forces on the provision of the temporary bridge, which has made a real difference to the people of Workington?

The emergency services and the armed forces worked exceptionally well and speedily in ensuring that the new bridge was built in time and to the benefit of all concerned, so I completely endorse my hon. Friend’s sentiments.