Duties of owner or manager

Part of Fire Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 25 June 2020.

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Photo of David Simmonds David Simmonds Conservative, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner 3:45, 25 June 2020

I have similar feelings about new clause 6 as I had about amendment 1. There is a risk that by seeking to be precise, we may create additional gaps in the legislation. Looking at the list, it would be clear to anybody with experience of the issue in a wider context that many other issues would come into consideration in such circumstances.

For example, the London Borough of Hillingdon had to go to court on 16 occasions last year to gain access to tenants’ properties to undertake essential safety-critical work on gas installations. If we were to define the duties that we are placing on the responsible individuals, the list would be extremely long. I have heard the Minister talk on the issue and I know that, with his local government experience, he is well aware of the context.

The properties to which the legislation will apply are hugely diverse, as are the risks that they offer. I therefore strongly believe that the new clause is another example where we are better off having a broader-brush piece of legislation that provides the opportunity to catch every set of circumstances flexibly, rather than being unnecessarily specific and risking missing out things that might turn out to be safety-critical.