Rainham MP slams Tories for voting down Grenfell Tower fire safety recommendations
PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 September 2020
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The MP for Rainham has slammed the government after Tory counterparts voted against recommendations made during the Grenfell Tower inquiry.
An amendment tabled by the Labour Party to the Fire Safety Bill, aimed at including proposals made during the first phase of the Grenfell probe, was defeated in the House of Commons on September 7.
A total of 188 MPs voted in favour with 318 (including Romford MP Andrew Rosindell and Hornchurch and Upminster MP Julia Lopez) against.
Jon Cruddas said: “The U-turn from the government is a shameful dereliction of duty which does little to reassure those living in high rise accommodation and leaves many with no possibility of being able to sell their flats.
“This move will have serious implications for those living in potentially unsafe accommodation.”
The Fire Safety Bill amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It is expected to make clearer where responsibility for fire safety in buildings containing more than one home lies.
One of the key policies put forward by the Labour amendment was the protection of leaseholders from meeting the costs of the removal of ACM and other non-safe cladding from blocks of flats.
Mr Cruddas described the loss in Parliament as an “utter failure” by the Tories who have “yet again put big business before ordinary people”.
He added that he will be speaking with neighbours in Orchard Village, South Hornchurch, in the coming weeks about the external cladding on their blocks.
Romford MP, Andrew Rosindell, said: “As the prime minister has made clear on many occasions, the government has accepted the outcome of the Grenfell Inquiry, but as housing secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC it would be ‘irresponsible’ to put measures in place ‘before we even finish listening to the sector as to how is the best possible way to do this so it actually works.’
“Labour’s amendments called for the removal of leaseholders as the responsible person unless they are also the owner or part owner of the freehold.
“As the minister responsible, Kit Malthouse explained, legislating for the removal of the leaseholder as a responsible person could leave a vacuum when it comes to responsibilities under the order, compromising fire safety.
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“I am disappointed that on such an important issue, Jon Cruddas is playing politics, choosing this as a moment to attack me and question my integrity.
“Rather than seeking to drive a wedge, Labour should be working with the government and putting politics aside on this issue.
“The idea that the Conservatives would put big business over the lives of our constituents is disgraceful. I, as with every other Conservative, am committed to ensuring such a tragic event never happens again,” he added.
Julia Lopez, MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, said it was misleading to suggest the government was not going to follow through on the inquiry’s recommendations.
She added the government voted against the Labour motion because the subject of the amendments is already included in an ongoing public consultation on fire safety.
“As soon as the Fire Safety Bill has passed – and this has to come first – the government says it will move with all pace to see the regulations are put in place as fast as possible.
“I know some constituents are worried about costs of replacement cladding to leaseholders and I have raised these directly with the housing secretary and prime minister,” Ms Lopez added.
A government spokesperson said: “We are doing everything in our power to implement the phase one recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry in the most practical, proportionate and effective way to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again.
“Our proposals go further than the inquiry’s recommendations in many ways, such as inspection requirements on equipment, on information for residents and on external walls.
“We are now seeking the views of those most affected by the inquiry before deciding on our final approach.”
Following the fire at Grenfell Tower, which claimed the lives of 72 people, the government launched an independent review.
Ministers accepted all the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt, as well as banning aluminium composite material cladding systems – the same type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower – on high rises.
The government has made £1.6billion available to speed up its removal.
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