Clause 30 - Higher-risk buildings etc

Part of Building Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 21st September 2021.

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Photo of Shaun Bailey Shaun Bailey Conservative, West Bromwich West 2:00 pm, 21st September 2021

I shall be brief, as I am conscious of the fact that we have already touched on the clause.

The point on which I wish to comment, which was highlighted in the comments of the hon. Member for Amesbury, is the ability of the Secretary of State to liaise with the Building Safety Regulator, as provided in the clauses added to schedule 5 to the Building Act 1984. The key is the facility to recognise that circumstances change—specifications change, the industry changes. The clause gives the Department the flexibility holistically to utilise the Building Safety Regulator, ensuring that subsequent regulations reflect reality.

We have debated the 80 metres specification, but we heard during the evidence sessions that flexibility is necessary. There are many shades of grey in this space—it is not all black and white. The clause pretty much mandates the Secretary of State to have regard to the Building Safety Regulator’s advice and to take on board its recommendations. That is vital, because the way in which we have structured the BSR in the Bill thus far is for it to act not just as an enforcer but as an adviser too, and there will be individuals within the organisation who have the expertise and skill.

The clause provides the flexibility that we will need, and as we come to secondary legislation we will see how important that is going to be. As we build the legislative framework, it will be important that Ministers have the agility to take advice and react to the market. The market and the specifications now will not be the same in five years’ time or 10 years’ time. We must ensure that if things need to change we can act expeditiously. Clause 30 is the right clause. It provides that flexibility to my right hon. Friend the Minister and his officials and I therefore support it.