Mary Kelly Foy contributions to the Fire Safety Bill 2019-21

Mon 7th September 2020 Fire Safety Bill (Commons Chamber)
3rd reading: House of Commons
Report stage: House of Commons
3 interactions (211 words)

Fire Safety Bill

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Mary Kelly Foy Excerpts
Monday 7th September 2020

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Of course, these are technical issues and many players have to be brought into the game together and aligned, but I do not want it to be another eight years before we get to a final resolution on these matters. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will be able to do that during his tenure of office. I will be very happy if that is a long time, but not as long as that. I urge him to give us some alternatives to the formulations brought forward in the debate and a sense of a real and pressing timeframe to have these matters resolved.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham) (Lab)
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Of course, those of us on the Opposition side welcome the Bill and support the clarification to fire safety law that it brings. In the wake of the terrible Grenfell Tower tragedy, which will stay etched in our minds despite the passing of time, it is so important that building owners take responsibility for managing and reducing the risk of fire. A key element of that is to seek to clarify which parts of the burden are covered by those requirements and what the responsibilities are. So why does the Bill feel like such a missed opportunity? It is partly about the amount of time it has taken for us to get this point, as my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones) outlined.

Back in October 2019, the Government pledged to implement the Grenfell inquiry’s recommendations in full and without delay, yet here we are with the thinnest of bills amounting to three clauses, ducking the main issues and failing to include even the simplest of recommendations such as inspections of fire doors and the testing of lifts. But it is also a bigger missed opportunity, precisely because the Government have failed to learn the lessons. Of those there are many, but I want to briefly focus on one.

It is clear that this Bill will require a massively increased level of inspection and enforcement. That is all good, and necessary, but it will inevitably increase the workload of the fire and rescue services, with a subsequent need for training considering the more complex inspections required. Has any serious thought been given to the additional resources that will be needed for fire services to inspect and enforce these new measures and the additional funding that will be needed? In its briefing back in April, the Fire Brigades Union estimated that potentially hundreds of thousands of premises would require additional activity by inspectors, and concluded that fire and rescue services