Clause 139 - Review of regulatory regime

Building Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 21st October 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)

The Government are committed to the continuous improvement of the building regulatory regime and the construction products regulatory regime, including the Building Safety Regulator and the national regulator for construction products. The purpose of the clause is to legislate for the appointment of an independent person to carry out a periodic review of the system of regulation for building safety and standards, and of the system of regulation for construction products. We believe that such a review will act to assure the functioning of the systems and provide independent recommendations for improvement.

The independent review recommended a periodic review of the overall system of building regulation, including accountabilities, responsibilities, guidance and the effectiveness of the regulator. It recommended that the review should be undertaken by an independent person at least once every five years. The clause meets that recommendation and goes further.

The review must consider the Building Safety Regulator and the system of regulation established by parts 2 and 4 of the Bill and by the Building Act 1984. It must also consider the regulation of construction products, including the effectiveness of the national regulator of construction products. However, the independent person is not limited and may review connected matters. The Secretary of State may also indicate areas of specific interest that they would like the reviewer to consider. I stress, however, that the Secretary of State has no ability to limit the remit of the review.

An independent person must be appointed at least once every five years, although the Secretary of State has scope to appoint a person more regularly should they so wish. By ensuring that the report produced by the independent person must be published, the Government have created a system of public accountability in building safety. In seeking to define “independent”, we have struck a balance that discounts those with a clear conflict of interest, without overreaching and excluding everyone with relevant experience. Under that approach, the exemplar for an experienced but independent person is Dame Judith Hackitt, prior to her appointment to the lead the independent review.

The Government have provided a structure to ensure that an independent review of the system of building safety and standards will occur at least once every five years, and we have ensured that the reviewer can operate unfettered. The clause will help to protect the integrity of the system and help to make sure that the system continues to create a safe built environment in the future. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 139 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 140 ordered to stand part of the Bill.