U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron defended his government’s response to flooding while fending off calls for increased spending on defenses to prevent future crises.
Cameron, who will chair a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee later today, responded to opposition accusations that the military wasn’t sent to assist early enough by saying it was always available to the emergency services.
“We will go on doing whatever we can to help people,” Cameron told lawmakers in the House of Commons in London after repeating his pledge that “money is no object” in the relief effort. “I don’t want people to worry about penny-pinching.”
A succession of storms from the Atlantic has brought record rains and tidal surges to Britain since early December, flooding at least 5,800 properties and disrupting transport. Cameron yesterday canceled a trip to the Middle East to enable him to lead the government response.
The Conservative prime minister has sought to tamp down spats among cabinet ministers over responsibility for failing to prevent floods in Somerset, southwest England, and apparent confusion over the money he has pledged. Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, jibed at Cameron that it would be helpful if the government would “speak with one voice.”
Decisions over spending on flood defenses will have to wait until after the waters have receded, Cameron said. He defended his government’s record on spending. Some 2.4 billion pounds ($4 billion) was spent on defenses between 2010 and 2014, compared with 2.2 billion pounds in a similar period under Labour, he said.
Work done since the floods of 2007, which saw 55,000 homes inundated, have protected more than a million homes, he said.