Mr Redwood’s contribution to the Statement on Flooding (Somerset), 3 February

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Will the Secretary of State call in the chairman of the Environment Agency and ask why, from a budget of £1,200 million last year, it spent only £20 million on clearing watercourses? Will he get across to the chairman that we need new budget priorities—not just in Somerset, which is the subject of the urgent question, but in places such as mine—to clear watercourses so that people do not have wet rooms?

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Owen Paterson): As I have said, I have great confidence in what the Environment Agency, led by the chairman and by the chief executive, has delivered in protecting 1.1 million properties. However, as my right hon. Friend says, we can always do better. One thing I am looking at is getting more low-risk water clearance work done locally, with local councils being more involved, and with local agencies and more IDBs. This is very much a team effort.