Why East Devon MPs voted against Labour bid to amend Fire Safety Bill to include recommendations from first phase of Grenfell Inquiry

Tory East Devon MPs have explained why they helped defeat a Labour bid to change the Fire Safety Bill and include proposals from the first phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

An amendment to the legislation was rejected by 188 votes to 318 in the House of Commons on Monday (September 7).

The Fire Safety Bill – introduced to prevent tragedies like Grenfell Tower in which 72 people died in June 2017 – seeks to clarify who is responsible for fire safety in blocks of flats.

Labour wanted to amend the bill to ensure that recommendations from the first phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry were put in place.

The Government says it is committed to implementing the measures – but a consultation on the proposals is needed first.

East Devon MP Simon Jupp and Honiton and Tiverton representative Neil Parish both voted against the amendment.

Mr Jupp said: “I voted for the Fire Safety Bill to help ensure the tragedy of Grenfell isn’t ever repeated.

“I want all those affected to continue to receive the support they deserve and new laws put in place to improve fire safety.

“The inquiry’s report recommended seeking the views of those affected and the wider public on the specific proposals.

“Labour’s amendment would have cancelled out the ongoing consultation before it’s completed next month.

“The Government accepts the recommendations of the inquiry in full and I voted against a move which goes against the inquiry’s report and the process to introduce legislation to protect people’s lives.”

Mr Parish added: “The subject of the Labour amendment is the subject of an ongoing public consultation on fire safety that ends on 12 October.

“This consultation must take place, as changes under the Fire Safety Order must be consulted on.

“As such, the proposed amendment would not have sped up the process for the necessary changes to be made to legislation and under the defeated amendments, regulations would still have had to have been drafted anyway.

“Further, in some areas, not only is the consultation proposing to implement the recommendations as set out by the Inquiry, but to go further still.

“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.”

Phase two of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is under way.

Its phase one report, published in October 2019, found that the tower’s cladding did not comply with building regulations and had fuelled the rapid spread of the blaze.

Labour’s proposed amendment to the Fire Safety Bill required flat owners or building managers in England and Wales to:

  • Share information with their local fire service about the design of external walls and the materials used;
  • Carry out regular inspections of lifts and individual flat entrance doors;
  • Share evacuation and fire safety instructions with residents of the building.

Labour MP for Exeter Ben Bradshaw said: “The Government’s decision to vote against Labour’s amendment to the Fire Safety Bill is a shameful U-turn on their commitment to implement the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

“It is vital that the Government deliver on this promise so that a disaster like this is never allowed to happen again.”

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