Owen Paterson has been forced to pull out of leading Whitehall’s response to the floods to have emergency surgery on a detached retina.
The Environment Secretary was due to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee and make a statement in the Commons tomorrow.
Mr Paterson was at a meeting of the committee today, chaired by David Cameron, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said alternative arrangements were being made for tomorrow.
Defra confirmed that Mr Paterson had been expected to chair the Cobra meeting and make the statement in Parliament.
A spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately due to emergency surgery to repair a detached retina he will be unable to do so.
"Alternative arrangements are being made.”
Mr Paterson was the target of residents’ anger when he visited the flood-hit Somerset Levels last week.
Locals from the area said they were living in “third world” conditions – with “overflowing” septic tanks and water in their homes.
The Environment Secretary also drew criticism for arriving at Northmoor in a pair of smart city shoes.