Put Lincs before Third World on flooding, says Sir Edward

Edward Leigh EMN-141010-122653001
Edward Leigh EMN-141010-122653001
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Market Rasen’s MP Sir Edward Leigh has called on the government to spend money on flood defences in Lincolnshire and Britain before it is spent on flood defences in the Third World.

The Conservative MP told the BBC last week that it was not appropriate to be spending £720 million on a climate change fund when the UK was still borrowing £100bn a year and needed the cash for its own flood defences.

“We have to look at the interests of the taxpayer and our own people,” the former chairman of the influential Commons public accounts committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We had appalling scenes at the Somerset Levels last year. I’ve had villages flooded in Lincolnshire. As the National Audit Office said, we’re still not spending enough on flood alleviation. First of all we need to spend the money here.

“I’m very happy to help people who are in poverty in the Third World. I’m happy to give money to humanitarian projects. I’m happy to spend money properly on protecting a village in Bangladesh from being flooded, but I don’t want to commit now to £650m on spec,” he said.

The MP’s comments follow Louth suffering flash floods this summer and last December, Boston and parts of the county endured the worst tidal surge in 60 years.

However, in the radio debate Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey branded opponents “isolationist Little Englanders” and said the cash from the UK’s aid budget was helping poor countries deal with climate change and rising sea levels. “Of course we’re spending a large amount of money on dealing with our flood defences - £3.2bn this parliament - more than we’ve ever spent before,” he added.