Clause 1 - Overview of Act

Building Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 26th 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)

Only in the wonderful, marvellous, mysterious process that is House of Commons procedure could we come to clause 1 at the end of our deliberations on all the clauses. None the less, I am pleased to invite the Committee to debate it now. The Committee will no doubt be very familiar with the clauses of the Bill, but for the purposes of total completeness—we have an hour and 13 minutes left—I will inform the Committee of what the clause sets out.

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

The first clause—briefly, Mrs Miller—acts as an overview of its constituent parts, which for the benefit of the Committee I may just run through again—or maybe I won’t. There are six parts and they contain provisions intended to secure the safety of people in or about buildings and to improve the standard of buildings.

Part 1 is purely an introductory overview. Part 2 establishes the Building Safety Regulator, sets out its functions in relation to buildings in England and provides key powers to enable it to undertake its functions. Part 3 amends the Building Act 1984, setting out the provisions for the new regulatory regime during the design and construction phase of the buildings in scope of the said regime. It also provides for the registration of building inspectors and building control approvers to improve competence levels through better regulation. Part 4 is concerned with buildings in scope during their occupation. It defines and places duties on the accountable person for building safety risks in their building and improves on aspects of accountability such as engagement with residents and the transparency of building safety information.

Part 5 details further provisions regarding safety and standards. For example, it provides arrangements for a new homes ombudsman scheme, requiring developers to become and remain members of it. It creates powers to make provisions about construction products. It removes the democratic filter that requires social housing residents to refer unresolved complaints to a designated person or wait eight weeks before they can access redress through the housing ombudsman. It also changes certain provisions in relation to the procedures of the Architects Registration Board. The aim is that an architect will be able to appeal against a decision taken by the ARB to remove them from the register, and I will consider whether a non-judicial appeal route should also be made available for architects to challenge such a decision.

Finally, part 6 contains general clauses about the commencement of the Bill’s provisions and covers applications to the Crown and other standard clauses. Clause 1 is uncontentious. It is an important overview intended to detail the Bill’s thematic structure, which is perhaps why it is so very dry. It may have been surmised during the passage of this Committee’s deliberations that many of the individual clauses and their amendments are rather dry. None the less, they have an important intent: to ensure that this country’s building safety is improved significantly, so that all sectors of society, be they developers, local authorities, architects and designers, building owners or residents, can have confidence in the industry that designs, builds and supports the homes in which people live. Members may have disagreed from time to time on matters in the Bill, but none of us disagrees about what we intend of it.

I am grateful to you, Mrs Miller, and the other Chairs for the occasional indulgence that you have allowed us. I am grateful to all the Clerks and the officials of the House for their support in bringing this Committee stage to a conclusion. I am grateful to my officials for all that they have done to provide us with the details and data to allow us to debate these provisions effectively. I am grateful to the Committee for the collegiate and collaborative way in which everybody has contributed to what we will report to the House. On that basis, and with an hour and eight minutes in hand, I commend clause 1 to the Committee.

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

I thank you, Mrs Miller, and Mr Davies, Mr Dowd and Mr Efford for chairing proceedings professionally and impartially over the past few weeks. I thank the Clerks and all the staff on the parliamentary estate. I also thank every member of this Committee, from both sides of the House. We have had passion, consideration and great, appropriate humour from time to time. I am sure that on Report, and during the other stages of the Bill, we will collectively contribute towards making people safer in safer buildings.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Conservative, Basingstoke

Before I put the question, I should say, because the Committee has quite a lot of new Members, that sometimes those thank yous are done as points of order right before the close. I am grateful, as I am sure others are, for those thanks—it is very kind.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose.

Written evidence reported to the House

BSB51 Competence Steering Group

BSB52 Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI)

BSB53 Fire Sector Federation

BSB54 Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)