Owen Paterson went on to praise the under-fire Environment Agency for its response to widespread flooding:
Since the start of last December, the UK as a whole has experienced a period of exceptionally unsettled weather and there is no sign at present of its abating.
Many parts of the country have been subjected to flooding from the sea, rivers, surface water or groundwater, and I am extremely grateful for the excellent response by the emergency services, the Environment Agency and flood forecasting centre staff and the leadership shown by many local authorities in responding to the floods.
More top news
More deprived areas of England have received the biggest cuts over the last five years, according to an influential think-tank.
A suspected burglar and domestic abuser who goaded police on their own Facebook page has been taunted back after handing himself in.
Motorists are to be allowed 10 minutes' grace after a parking ticket runs out before they can receive a fine, under new rules.