Clause 30 - Higher-risk buildings etc

Part of Building Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 21st September 2021.

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Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 2:15 pm, 21st September 2021

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her intervention. I understand why some regard a matrix or a set of matrices to be a better mechanism to employ. The problem with a set of matrices is that they are subjective. It is possible that one assessor could rule that a building is in scope of the regime and another rule it or a similar building out of scope. That would create unnecessary confusion in the regime. It is much more sensible that we have an objective threshold that everyone understands, be they the experts on the gamekeeper’s side of the fence or those on the poacher’s side. Everyone understands what the rules are.

The hon. Members for Weaver Vale and for Brentford and Isleworth, who is no longer in her place, mentioned other potential buildings. I have explained how it is possible, through advice from the Building Safety Regulator, to expand the regime, but I simply reiterate my earlier point that some of those buildings, such as prisons, hotels and hostels, are subject to the Fire Safety Order. They tend to have multiple means of exit and signage appropriate to guests entering and leaving the building. They are governed by a different regime. The Ministry of Defence’s buildings have their own fire safety arrangements and the Crown has its own arrangements under the Building Act. Those provisions have not been introduced and enforced but, as this Bill goes through the House, we will consider whether the Building Act provisions that apply to Crown buildings should be put into force.

We are not blind to the fact that the regime can be refined and improved. As I say, that is one of the reasons why we want to use secondary legislation as a mechanism for delivering the Bill in the most effective way.