Clause 40 - Revocation etc of certain provision made under section 2(2) of ECA 1972

Building Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 23rd September 2021.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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

I would be happy enough to speak to clause 30 again, Mr Efford, although I am not sure that that is the desire of the Committee. My eloquence and possibly my effluence covered all bases.

Clause 40 makes a technical but necessary provision to enable the revocation of out-of-date provisions in building regulations made under the European Communities Act 1972 as we modernise the regulations in years to come. Although the major part of the building regulations was made using powers in the Building Act 1984, a few provisions were made using the powers in the European Communities Act. That Act has now of course been repealed, so those powers are no longer available, meaning that at present the provisions made under the Act cannot be amended or revoked.

The building regulations will need to be updated in the light of the changes being made in the Bill. As part of that exercise, we will be looking to consolidate the significant number of amendments made to the regulations in recent years, to make the regulations easier to use for industry and building control bodies. We will need to be able to revoke the existing regulations and replace them with new ones, and without the powers provided by clause 40 we would be in an anomalous position, in that building regulations made under the European Communities Act could not be revoked, so we would not be able to undertake a comprehensive updating and consolidation.

Clause 40 works by treating building regulations made using powers in both the Building Act 1984 and section 2(2) of the European Communities Act as a “combined instrument” and then provides, in subsection (2), powers for building regulations to revoke provision in a combined instrument. Clause 40(3) disapplies paragraphs 13 and 14 of schedule 8 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 in respect of any regulations that amend provision in a combined instrument. This will mean that any such regulations will be made, like building regulations, under the negative resolution procedure. Subsections (1) and (2) of this clause also apply to Wales. Paragraphs 13 and 14 of schedule 8 to the 2018 Act do not apply to statutory instruments made by the Welsh Ministers, so subsection (3) does not apply to Wales.

Clause 40 is needed to allow us to make changes to building regulations, so that we can update and improve legislation. It is a very technical clause.

Photo of Siobhan Baillie Siobhan Baillie Conservative, Stroud 12:30 pm, 23rd September 2021

Revoking anything can lead to fears of an inadvertent reduction in standards. Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the clause and the work behind it will achieve exactly the opposite?

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

This is no back-door attempt to reduce standards now or to introduce poorer standards in the future. It is simply a necessary technical means of allowing standards to be introduced by overriding a now defunct Act; otherwise, we would not be able to repeal or change standards and regulations relating to it. For example, our future homes standard and, indeed, the future buildings standard go way beyond anything that was required of us when we were a member of the European Union or that is required of us under the European Communities Act. I assure the Committee that this is a technical change—a necessary legal and technical change—and not an attempt to reduce standards by subterfuge. With that, I commend the clause to the Committee.

Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I thank the Minister and other Members who have made contributions. As the Minister said, this is a technical but necessary clause. He referred to the future homes and future buildings standards, and I would like to explore the interplay between the Building Safety Regulator and those up-and-coming standards.

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

The future homes standard, which we will consult on and will legislate on in 2023-24 to introduce in 2025, will require all buildings built from that point to be at least 75% more carbon efficient than buildings built under present regulations. Importantly, they will also be zero carbon rated, so they will not need to be retrofitted as we change the electricity grid. Those regulations will be in force from that point—clearly, they are not law yet—and all regulators will need to have regard to them and will need to issue appropriate guidance once those changes are enacted in law, so that local authorities, the Building Safety Regulator and product manufacturers understand what needs to be embedded in product creation and the design and management of buildings, subject to the law as it stands.

I will conclude—unless anybody else wishes to intervene; I do not think they do—by saying that this is a very technical clause that is very necessary to ensure that we have a regulation landscape that we can properly manage. I commend it to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 40 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.