Orders of the Day — Housing and Building Control Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:02 pm on 5th July 1983.

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Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Norwood 9:02 pm, 5th July 1983

The responsibility for picking up the bill is with the Government. The failure lies with the content of the regulations and not with a failure of inspection. We must examine the construction regulations and the enforcement system.

My second objection to the course proposed by the Government is that it will result in a loss of co-ordination and continuity. For example, a building night be extended, adapted and altered. It may be subdivided and occupied by two or three owners and two or three other occupiers. There may be permanent consents and temporary consents under the building Acts. The one building may present many complexities, but the one public enforcement system, with a repository of plans and experience and knowledge of the building and the neighbourhood, means that there is continuity. That is lost when privatisation is introduced. As a consequence, the new occupant of such a building loses the ability to obtain advice, especially when there has been temporary consent or a waiver of building regulations. Privatisation means a loss of continuity and the loss of intimate knowledge of a particular area.

In a quarrying or mining area it is necessary to know the way in which the land has been filled, where columns of rock have been left and where there has been infilling. Continuity and knowledge is lost when we start to farm out these responsibilities to create private profit.

My third objection to privatisation is that it creates an economic interdependence between developers and building control. I do not suggest that it results in planned corruption but it leads to economic interdependence, and a developer may well be the monopoly buyer of the services of the building inspector. That would be extremely dangerous. The building industry's record in respect of graft, corruption and collusion is not a happy one.