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Fire Safety Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee on 25th June 2020.

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[Sir Gary Streeter in the Chair]

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon 2:00 pm, 25th June 2020

We now begin line-by-line consideration of the Bill. Members will understand the need to respect social distancing guidance. I will intervene if necessary to remind everyone, but at the moment it is okay. Members may remove jackets during our proceedings. Tea and coffee are not permitted during our sittings, and Members must ensure that mobile phones are turned off or switched to silent mode.

The selection list for today’s sitting, which is available in the room, shows how the amendments selected for debate have been grouped. Please note that decisions on amendments take place not in the order that they are debated, but in the order in which they appear on the amendment paper. Hansard reporters would be most grateful if Members could email electronic copies of their speaking notes to hansardnotes@parliament.uk.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Labour, Hammersmith

On a point of order, Sir Gary. I apologise for rising so early. I do not want to start on a contentious or sour note in what I am sure will be a consensual Committee, but there was some consternation about the way in which the Committee was timetabled. I make no criticism of the necessary rigours enforced on us by social distancing; the staff have done an excellent job in that respect.

The issue of fire safety in tall buildings, particularly in west London, is very important. It is one of the very few issues that keep me awake at night. We are dealing with the whole the Bill, which, as the evidence session this morning showed, ramifies in many ways, in one day. We had the evidence session this morning, and we are dealing with line-by-line consideration of the whole Bill, albeit a short Bill, this afternoon. The evidence was excellent; it would have been good to have time to digest it and perhaps propose amendments on the basis of it. We now have three hours for debate—I will be brief so as not to eat into that time—and we also have a Committee that is smaller than was originally envisaged. That is partly to do with the constraints of the room and social distancing, but it is an unhelpful precedent.

I do not know whether it is a matter for the Chair or for the Government to take away, but I wanted to put on record my concerns. The matter before us needs to be explored in depth; it has huge complexities and different streams, even within the limits of the Bill, which is one of several. I hope that the authorities and the Government will take away the message that scrutiny should not in any way be constrained.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I have taken notice of his point of order. The programming motion has already been agreed, so we cannot change it, but he has made some powerful points and they are now firmly on the record. We will now start line-by-line scrutiny.