What a pickle the government is in over the floods. The first duty of any government is to defend its citizens, not just from man-made action but from nature itself. This government have not acquitted themselves well.
I have followed this very closely because of flooding here in North Tyneside, which has been hit repeatedly, but also because I am a member of the Select Committee that oversees the work of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
We took evidence last year from the Association of Drainage Authorities, which warned against not dredging key rivers in Somerset, which they said had all but ceased. Extra funds for this were refused.
Labour’s response to floods in 2007 resulted in more funding which Cameron cut. Abandoning flood protection was the wrong choice.
The government’s own independent expert adviser also warned that current levels of funding will result in around 250,000 more households becoming exposed to a significant risk of flooding by 2035.
Such advice was ignored and then ministers were panicked and at sixes and sevens when the floods hit. We have to ask why it took so long to get the pumps, boats and sandbags to communities that desperately needed help.
One of my major priorities remains the continuing fight for my constituents, who have been affected by flooding.