While many of us enjoyed Christmas, thousands of people in the north faced the horror of flooded homes or have been left without power.

The emergency services and others who have worked throughout to help the victims deserve special thanks.

It’s not true that flood investment has been cut, or that less money is spent in the north than the south.  Actually more is spent per head of the population in the north.

£2.3 billion has been allocated for flood defences over the next five years, more than over the previous five.

Nevertheless, I think it will make sense to review flood defence plans to see whether they are adequate for the future - including locally where we have also faced flooding  in the recent past, if not on the same scale.

And it’s certainly time to stop building new housing in flood prone areas.

However, the argument that we should divert money from the international budget isn’t a good one.

If I were given a pound for every time someone spends the money for international aid on something else, I would be rich and the aid budget would be spent hundreds of times over.

I don’t believe we have to choose between ensuring that our own communities are protected and helping the poorest people in the world through aid which costs less than 1 per cent of our national income.

As one of the wealthiest countries in the world we can and should do both.

We tend to think about security in terms of national defence.  But of course the security which every family wants takes many forms.

Economic security is important to all of us, yet is ever harder to ensure in a competitive world. 

And I believe that environmental security will be seen as increasingly important, as unusual weather events strike communities around the world.

Over the next few decades, pressures on water and food supplies across the world will become ever more acute, and extreme weather more likely.

We need to ensure that countries around the world are able to adapt to these changes.  But making sure that our own communities are resilient, and that flood defences across the country are adequate, should also be a priority.

Nick Herbert