The Government are investing £2.5 billion between 2015 and 2021, delivering at least 1,500 new flood defence schemes and better protecting 300,000 homes. In my hon. Friend’s constituency, Government investment of £121 million is being made, delivering 18 schemes, better protecting more than 30,000 homes.
I am afraid that I was overwrought with the excitement of your birthday, Mr Speaker, and forgot parliamentary procedure.
The Minister will know from the events of last week that my constituency is under great threat of flooding. I am sure that she will join the Prime Minister and I in praising the response of the emergency services under the threatening tidal surge. Does she agree, therefore, not only that the Boston barrier cannot come soon enough, but that it offers a huge economic opportunity that will allow Boston to be protected from flooding and to seize a new tourism dawn that could be improved with a lock?
What a “fentastic” idea. A design for the Boston barrier has been considered by the Environment Agency and is currently subject to a public inquiry under the Transport and Works Act Order. Alongside the famous Boston stump, it could be a compelling reason to ensure that we visit this special part of rural England. I personally extend my thanks to the Environment Agency, councils, emergency services and volunteers who helped to ensure that people were safe last weekend.
Happy birthday to you, Mr Speaker. Many small businesses across the UK that operate in flood risk areas are facing enormous flood insurance excesses. Will the Ministers please commit to persuading the Treasury to extend the Flood Re scheme for affordable insurance to small businesses? If there are floods again not only will individual companies go out of business; many high streets in my constituency might actually disappear.
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that flood defences are a matter for his Government. He raised the same point in the Adjournment debate yesterday and if he had waited for my reply, he would have heard my response.