Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party have been lambasted after making a “shameful u-turn” to vote down an amendment to put into law the fire safety recommendations made during phase one of the official Grenfell Inquiry.
The amendment, which was proposed by the Labour Party as an addition to the Fire Safety Bill, was voted down by a margin of 318-188 in the House of Commons tonight.
Labour’s New Clause one would have seen the official fire safety recommendations made during phase one of the Grenfell inquiry put into law when the final bill gained royal assent.
The recommendations rejected by the Tories include:
- Creating national guidelines for carrying out partial or total evacuations of high-rise buildings during emergencies
- Urgent inspections of fire doors contained in all multi-residential buildings
- A legal requirement for the owners or managers of multi-residential buildings to check fire doors at least every three months to ensure they are working effectively
- A legal requirement for the owners or managers of high rise buildings to provide details of external walls and the materials used to the local fire service, and inform them of any changes
- A legal requirement for the owners or managers of high-rise buildings to provide paper and electronic versions of building plans to local fire services
- A legal requirement to ensure all high-rise buildings have a premises information box which includes a copy of floor plans
- Regular inspections of lifts required for use by firefighters and the mechanism that allows them to take control of it
Following the publication of the recommendations in October 2019, the Tory Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire, promised to implement them “in full” and “without delay”.
Unsurprisingly, tonight’s latest u-turn by Boris Johnson’s government has caused consternation amongst Labour MPs.
Labour leader Keir Starmer called the Conservatives’ actions a “shameful dereliction of duty.“
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
London Mayor Sadiq Khan chose similar language:
The Grenfell Tower fire saw a terrible, tragic loss of life, and we owe it to those who died and their loved ones to ensure that nothing like it ever, ever happens again.
Tonight's vote by the Govt against implementing the Inquiry's Phase One recommendations is truly shameful. https://t.co/SkYvw98llF
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) September 7, 2020
Whilst Labour MP Dawn Butler said the Tories’ decision to vote down the amendment showed they “have no shame, no heart and no compassion.“
Amongst the 317 Conservative MPs to vote against the amendment was Felicity Buchan, the MP for Kensington – the constituency where Grenfell Tower is situated.
It’s appalling that tonight the Tory MP for Kensington voted against the @UKLabour amendment to put all the Grenfell Inquiry Phase I recommendations into law.
Many of her constituents will feel let down and have serious questions to ask… pic.twitter.com/5dsa01ohZv
— Nick Thomas-Symonds MP (@NickTorfaen) September 7, 2020
We are sent to Westminster above all to serve our constituents.@FelicityBuchan by voting against the Grenfell Inquiry recommendations, you let the victims and their families down.
I have no doubt you will come to regret putting your party before the people of North Kensington.
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) September 7, 2020
Responding to the vote in an official statement, Sarah Jones, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Policing and Fire, said:
“This is a shameful U-turn from Government. They have broken a solemn promise to take action following the Grenfell Inquiry.
“They continue to shirk responsibility on fire safety after the most powerful and tragic lesson imaginable. Despite words saying this must never happen again, tens of thousands of people are still living in buildings with flammable cladding.
“Labour will continue to press the Government to do the right thing, deliver on their promises and get the cladding ripped off urgently. There should be no backsliding on a commitment that a fire like Grenfell can never happen again.”