The House of Lords finally passed the unamended version of the Fire Safety Bill after a series of failed attempts to introduce changes that would prevent building owners from passing the cost of building safety works on to leaseholders.
It came after the House of Commons voted not to accept the amendment for the fifth time. It was the second vote this week, the other took place on Tuesday, with the housing minister Mr. Christopher Pincher describing the amendment as “unworkable and inappropriate”. Following yesterday’s vote, the bill went to the House of Lords which then passed it without amendments after repeatedly failing to secure enough support in the commons for the amendment.
Bishop of St Albans Dr Alan Smith, who brought forward the amendment, wrote on Twitter: “Despite the best efforts of the Lords, the government has passed the Fire Safety Bill unamended. The debates have made clear that the consequences will catch up with the government. Leaseholders – you have friends in both houses who will continue to be your advocates.”
Conservative backbencher Stephen McPartland, who originally tabled the amendment in the House of Commons before it was introduced in the House of Lords, said: “Sadly the Fire Safety Bill has passed by the U.K.’s House of Lords without protections for leaseholders. Do not despair, we will not give up, we will continue to fight for fairness for leaseholders. We will regroup.”
A total of 31 Conservative MPs rebelled against the government to back the Lords’ amendment, including former party leader Mr. Ian Duncan Smith and former housing minister Ms. Esther McVey. The Scottish National Party abstained from the bill, which only covers England, however all six Scottish Conservative MPs voted with the government.
Without the amendment, the bill leaves thousands of leaseholders facing huge costs to pay for safety work on the buildings. The government has allocated £5.1bn in funding to pay for work on buildings taller than 18m and plans to introduce a loan scheme for people in smaller buildings.