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Redundancies (Paignton)

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the effects of manufacturing redundancies at Nortel Networks, Paignton, on the South Devon economy; and if he will make a statement. [154300]

Mr. Caborn: All the local agencies, including the Employment Service, the RDA and the Government Office, are working closely with the company and the local authority to assess the impact of the redundancies at Nortel.

Radioactive Waste

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr. Gibb) of 26 February 2001, Official Report, column 314W, on radioactive waste, if he will list the criteria his Department uses to evaluate what constitutes as soon as practicable in respect of the return of high level radioactive waste to country of origin. [154228]

Mr. Hain: Wastes will be returned as required by contracts when they have been put into a form suitable for transfer, the facilities for export and receipt are ready and all appropriate approvals are in place.


Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the Health

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and Safety Executive report, on progress on BNFL's response to three reports on Sellafield issued by the Health and Safety Executive on 18 February 2000. [154201]

Mr. Hain: I welcome this thorough report from the Health and Safety Executive. I also welcome the progress that BNFL has made in addressing the recommendations in HSE's three reports published on 18 February 2000.


Departmental Policies (Lincoln)

Gillian Merron: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Lincoln constituency, the effects on Lincoln of the Lord Chancellor's Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [152976]

Mr. Lock: The Lord Chancellor's Department is responsible for the administration of the courts and for legal services. We have taken steps to improve the management and effectiveness of the services we provide and to meet customer needs, including working closely with other agencies to provide a fair, swift and effective system of justice, improve the availability of affordable and good quality legal services and to improve the lives of children and help build and sustain strong families.

Lincoln constituency is covered by the Lincolnshire and Rutland Community Legal Service Partnership which will be formally launched on 21 March. It is one of the 165 Community Legal Service Partnerships throughout England and Wales.

Within Lincoln 12 solicitor firms and two not for profit organisations have been awarded Legal Services Commission contracts with an expected expenditure value for the year 2001-02 of £635,000. The contracts cover a range of categories, and these include welfare benefits, debt, family and employment.


Flooding (Environment Agency Report)

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish the Environment Agency's report on the serious flooding in autumn and winter 2000; and if he will make a statement. [154898]

Mr. Morley: I am today publishing this report, copies of which are being placed in the House Libraries. Copies of the regional reports will be placed in the Libraries by 30 March. I welcome publication of this report which I commissioned the Environment Agency to produce, in partnership with the other bodies responsible for responding to the flooding, particularly local authorities and the emergency services.

The report shows that since last October we have seen the worst flooding for half a century, following the wettest autumn on record. Thankfully no loss of life was directly associated with the floods, though 10,000 properties suffered flooding--some repeatedly--and I again extend the Government's sympathies to all those who were affected.

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I endorse the key finding that the Agency, and those responsible for the emergency response, performed well. I am particularly pleased to note that the seamless and integrated service of flood forecasting, warning and response, for which I called after the Easter 1998 floods, was delivered in most if not all areas. I am also pleased to note that in a number of localities the emergency response arrangements benefited from exercises conducted last summer between the Environment Agency, local authorities and the emergency services. The new flood warning codes, introduced by the Agency within weeks of the floods, also worked well.

I want to thank the Agency, and all the other organisations and individuals involved, for their efforts in response to the flooding. This involved many hours of long, hard work, rapid decisions which needed to be made, and also individual acts of bravery, for which the country must express its gratitude. The effects of the flooding would almost certainly have been much worse were it not for their efforts.

Nevertheless, the report identifies some further lessons to be learned, the key ones being:

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My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister was right when, on 31 October 2000, Official Report, column 607, he referred to the effects of the earlier violent storm as a "wake up call". We can certainly expect climate change to mean that events of this type will occur more frequently in future. Another inevitable fact is that Governments--past, present and future--cannot prevent all flooding; but where it is sensible and sustainable to do so, we can take further action to reduce the risk.

We can also take action to ensure that as a nation we are prepared to deal with the effects of severe weather, including but not limited to flooding, and that our key national infrastructure can withstand these effects. This is a matter on which we are working closely with local authorities and other key players through the Central Local Partnership.

In summary, if it had not been for the effective response of the Agency and others, the flooding would have had much more serious effects than it did. There are still lessons to be learned, but we have all come a long way since the flooding three years ago.

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