Clause 23 - Provision of false or misleading information to regulator

Building Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 21st September 2021.

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Question proposed,That the clausestandpart of the Bill.

Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The Committee will see that there is a theme running through the clauses numbered 20-something. Clause 23 makes it an offence to provide false or misleading information to the Building Safety Regulator in circumstances specified in subsection (1). The Building Safety Regulator will have powers to make a number of individual regulatory decisions based on the information provided by duty holders. As such, the Building Safety Regulator’s decisions have a direct effect on the safety of residents in high-rise buildings. It is therefore essential that correct information is supplied to the regulator to ensure that the residents in the building are safe and that the proper and requisite requirements of building safety are adhered to. This power aims to deter the provision of any information that could impair the regulator’s decision-making capability.

The independent review recommended a stronger enforcement regime in line with the approach taken in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This offence carries a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine and/or two years imprisonment, which mirrors the maximum sentence for the similar offence in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. Again, that takes forward the recommendation in the independent review. The weighty custodial sentence in this provision seeks to provide a strong deterrent against the provision of false or misleading information. This is to preserve and promote the effective functioning of the Building Safety Regulator and the safety of the building and residents.

We will come on to clause 138, but it is worth referencing it in the context of clause 23. It will allow for any officer of the corporate body to be held responsible for the same offence if they participated in the offence in the ways set out in clause 138. However, it illustrates that there are similar and sufficient powers for the BSR to apply to corporate bodies, and that again mirrors the provisions in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. This goes above and beyond the current building safety enforcement regime and it creates a stronger incentive for those who are directing companies to provide accurate information to the BSR. I hope that the Committee will agree to the clause. I commend it to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 23 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.