Clause 4 - Duty to facilitate building safety: higher-risk buildings

Part of Building Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 16th September 2021.

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Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:00 pm, 16th September 2021

I am grateful to hon. Members for their contributions. With respect to the question from the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth, we have been careful to define in-scope buildings. In-scope buildings are those over 18 metres or seven storeys that contain two or more dwelling places. Other in-scope buildings include, for example, care homes and hospitals that meet the criteria. We have also been careful to draft the clause in such a way that we are confident that student accommodation, for example, as well as the other examples that she gave, are properly covered.

On the suggestion from the hon. Member for St Albans, I am clear that we want the regulator to have the responsibility to encourage, to nudge and to cajole, but ultimately, as I said in my remarks, to enforce good and best practice. I will certainly consider both what she said and the oral evidence from witnesses, but I will certainly not make any commitments until we have thought through how those things can work effectively and what the possible unintended consequences may be. We want the Building Safety Regulator to have a clear and proportionate role that does not have unintended and unforeseen negative consequences for residents. That is quite a broad definition of “residents”, as the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth outlined.

I thank the Committee for its consideration of the clause. In summary, I remind the Committee that the clause places a duty on the regulator to assist and encourage those responsible for the safe construction and management of high-rise residential and other in-scope buildings, as well as residents, to secure the safety of people in or around those buildings. That duty is a vital part of creating the cultural change that we need and that we will see. Amendment 6 is a minor and technical amendment that corrects an omission in the list of “relevant persons” so that we have a fuller and more complete list. I hope that, having heard those final remarks, the Committee will agree both to our technical amendment and to the clause.