YORK Central MP Hugh Bayley says he has won a long and acrimonious campaign for accurate figures on government spending on flood defences.

The Labour MP says former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has told him the amount will be published in future as an ‘official statistic’, quality controlled by the UK Statistics Authority, rather than “in house” by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Mr Bayley claimed the in-house figures from Defra were a ‘joke’, with the coalition government ‘manipulating’ the figures and this had been confirmed by both the House of Commons library and the UK Statistics Authority. “After the catastrophic flooding earlier this year and flash flooding over the weekend, there is a strong public interest in having accurate and trustworthy figures on government spending on flood defences,” Mr Bayley said.

Mr Paterson, writing to Mr Bayley just days before he left office as Environment Secretary, said the accuracy of government figures was assured through strict financial and audit processes, in compliance with strict financial, ministerial and civil service codes of practice.