Thank you for contacting me about the recent amendment vote to the “Fire Safety Bill”. I have read your email carefully and have noted the key points you made.
The Grenfell Tower fire was one of the worst tragedies this nation has experienced in many years. It is impossible to comprehend what those affected by the fire have had to deal with and the Government must ensure that those affected continue to receive the support they need and deserve.
It is the Government's clearly stated intention to follow through on the recommendations of phase one of the Grenfell fire inquiry. The Fire Safety Bill, which sets the foundation for implementing the recommendations from the Inquiry, is a core part of that process that will pave the way for more accountability from building owners and enforcement from fire and rescue authorities to hold any irresponsible owners to account.
I voted against the opposition amendment to the Bill for two reasons. The first is that the subject of the amendments is already included in an on-going public consultation on fire safety that ends slightly later this year on 12 October. The amendments proposed would in no way have sped up the process for the necessary changes to be made to the legislation and if the Government were to cut across the current consultation to implement these new amendments, it would risk creating further delay with the potential of a legal challenge and possibly another consultation.
The second reason is that significant legal and regulatory changes need public scrutiny, input and transparency, which is what a public consultation provides. Indeed, changes under the Fire Safety Order must be consulted on and major technical changes to the bill should not be drafted in haste. There are stages that we need to go through to make sure that we get the measures right and to ensure that the changes made to building safety will be cultural as well as legislative and structural.
My ministerial colleagues have assured me that fire safety is an absolute priority and the Government will move quickly to act on the feedback from the consultation once it is concluded. I am determined to see the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations implemented swiftly and properly and I will continue to raise any genuine and well-founded concerns from my constituents with Ministers at every opportunity.
In the meantime, the Government has announced that it will meet the £400 million costs of remedial cladding work on social housing high rise buildings and £200 million for private high-rise buildings. At the 2020 Budget, the Government set out an additional £1 billion to remove unsafe cladding from buildings over 18 metres high. This will help to speed up the work which is already well underway on the majority of those buildings with unsafe cladding.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about this important issue.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking