United Kingdom

Kensington MP votes against following Grenfell inquiry recommendations

Kensington MP Felicity Buchan, shown walking past Grenfell campaigners, voted against recommendations from an inquiry into the tragedy (Picture: Rex)

The Conservative MP for Kensington has been accused of a ‘dereliction of duty’ after voting against a move to legally recognise recommendations made during the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Felicity Buchan was among the ‘noes’ that defeated a Labour attempt to put the conclusions from the first phase of the public inquiry into law.

The amendment to the Fire Safety Bill was rejected by 318 votes to 188 in the House of Commons on Monday night.

The MP – who represents the constituency where the tragedy took place – reacted to protests against the result of the vote by accusing Labour of ‘wilfully politicising’ the disaster, claiming the opposition was trying to ‘cut across’ a related consultation over fire safety.

Grenfell United, the campaign group for survivors and bereaved families, tweeted that it was ‘outraged that government and our very own MP Felicity Buchan voted against amendment to implement Grenfell recommendations’.

The group said: ‘It’s no surprise as the Gov continue to fail the country – almost a year since the recommendations and so little has been done.

‘Thousands still in dangerous homes.’

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the choice not to implement the Grenfell Inquiry Phase I recommendations was a ‘shameful dereliction of duty’.

Felicity Buchan with campaigners at the start of phase two of the Grenfell Inquiry in January (Picture: Rex)
The MP argued she is ‘absolutely committed’ to implementing the recommendations made during the inquiry and said the Labour amendment would have slowed the process (Picture: Rex)

Although the amendment was defeated, the bill itself – which seeks to clarify who is responsible for fire safety in a block of flats – has cleared the Commons and is scheduled for consideration in the House of Lords, the final stage before Royal Ascent, when it becomes law.

Ms Buchan accused Labour of trying to ‘cut across’ a Fire Safety Order consultation which is due to conclude on October 12 by adding the amendment.

In a statement today, she said: ‘The Labour Party is misrepresenting the vote in the House of Commons yesterday and is wilfully politicising the Grenfell tragedy.’

‘The Fire Safety Bill which was voted on last night is a short Bill which sets out the framework to allow the recommendations of the 1st phase of the Grenfell Inquiry to be implemented.’

Ms Buchan accused the opposition of trying to ‘play politics’ with the tragedy.

Grenfell campaigners are calling on the Government to speed up the removal of all flammable cladding from homes, three years after the fire killed 72 people (Picture: PA)
People stand and pay their respects in front of a wall outside Grenfell Tower where messages of support were left on the third anniversary of the tragedy in June 2020 (Picture: Getty)

She said: ‘The amendment risked undermining the work to implement the Phase I recommendations. It would have cut across the current consultation, which would have delayed implementation – something to which we are all committed. It would in no way have sped up the process as it requires further regulations which can only come into effect once the Bill becomes law.

‘This is already the action Government is taking.’

The MP added that the government has pledged £1.6 billion to remove dangerous cladding from tower blocks in the wake of Grenfell and said she is ‘absolutely committed’ to implementing the inquiry’s recommendations.

What would the amendment have changed?

The amendment would have required flat owners or building managers in England and Wales to:

  • Share information with their local fire service about the design of external walls and the materials used
  • Carry out regular inspections of lifts and individual flat entrance doors
  • Share evacuation and fire safety instructions with residents of the building

Despite the financial pledge, almost a third of all buildings wrapped in Grenfell-style cladding are yet to have it removed, according to figures released last month.

The unsafe material remained on 243 high-rise buildings in England, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government found.

The Grenfell tragedy claimed 72 lives after fire took hold in the 24-storey tower block in North Kensington on June 14, 2017.

The phase one report, published last year, found that fire cladding in the building – which did not comply with building regulations – had contributed to the disaster.

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