A Labour amendment to the Fire Safety Bill designed to implement the findings of the first phase of the Grenfell Inquiry was defeated in the Commons by a majority of 130, after the government engaged the whip.
Some 308 Conservative MPs voted against the amendment, which if passed would have put additional responsibilities on flat owners and building managers, requiring them to share evacuation plans with residents and undertake regular inspections of flat doors and lifts. Additionally, it would require owners to disclose the materials and design of external walls to local fire services. The amendment closely followed the wording of recommendations made by Sir Martin Moore-Bick as part of Phase 1 of the Grenfell Inquiry, first published in October 2019. Despite promising a speedy implementation of the recommendations, almost a year on, the findings of the inquiry have yet to be put into law.
Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer accused the government of a ‘shameful dereliction of duty’ in a tweet, whilst subsequent to the Bill’s defeat, Shadow Home Office Minister Sarah Jones cited ‘Endless promises of action, statements, consultations, taskforces and roundtables without any real change’, pointing out the damage inaction has done to homeowners either living in unsafe homes or left unable to sell.
Tonight, Conservative MPs voted against putting into law the implementation of the Grenfell Inquiry Phase I recommendations.
A shameful dereliction of duty.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) September 7, 2020
Amongst the Conservative Members of Parliament who voted against the amendment was Felicity Buchan, MP for North Kensington, where many of those affected by the Grenfell fire still live. In a statement released on twitter, Buchan accused Labour of ‘playing politics with this tragedy’, and went on to insist that the Conservative government remain committed to implementing the findings of the inquiry. Campaigning group Grenfell United however expressed their disappointment in Buchan on Twitter, whilst Shadow Justice Minister David Lammy tweeted directly to Buchan, positing to her that ‘you will come to regret putting your party before the people of North Kensington.’