Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which agencies are responsible for handling flooding in areas where there is no river. 
Mr. Morley: The emergency response to flooding, from whatever source, is led by local authorities in partnership with the emergency services and bodies that are responsible for the source of the flooding.
The Environment Agency has permissive powers to undertake flood defence measures in relation to main rivers and the sea. The Agency is also responsible for issuing flood warnings and has a general supervisory duty over all matters relating to flood defence. Local authorities or, where they exist, internal drainage boards, have flood defence powers on ordinary watercourses.
Sewerage undertakers are generally responsible for dealing with flooding from sewerage systems while the relevant highways authority is responsible for road drainage systems. Flooding from groundwater can arise for disparate reasons and there is no single body responsible for such flooding. However, the Environment Agency may be able to provide hydrological information and advice in relation to serious problems with the water table and the existence of local springs.
8 January 2002 c724W