Tory Vote Against Fire Safety Bill Is an Insult to Grenfell Survivors08 Sep 2020
The Labour Party and Grenfell Tower activists have condemned the Conservative Government after a Labour-proposed amendment to the Fire Safety Bill was voted against by Conservative MPs.
The amendments would have implemented expert recommendations to prevent the repetition of the Grenfell fire that killed 72 people in 2017.
Among those who voted against the Bill was Felicity Buchan – the Conservative MP for Kensington where Grenfell is located.
It would seem that despite years of platitudes and promises to prevent a Grenfell-like tragedy from happening again, it seems no lessons have been learned.
The amendments would have implemented recommendations of the Grenfell Fire Inquiry
The amendments to the Fire Safety Bill proposed by the Labour Party would have implemented a number of recommendations that was made in the first stage of the inquiry to the fire that killed 72 people.
Among the changes would be the requirement for owners or managers of flats to share information with their local fire service about the design and materials of the external walls. It would have also required regular inspections of lifts and flat entrance doors, while evacuation and fire safety instructions would be required to be shared with the residents of the building.
Labour had also called for fire assessors to be accredited and pushed for greater clarity over who is responsible for fire safety in blocks of flats. The opposition party has already been critical of the Government’s performance following the incident, with shadow fire minister, Sarah Jones MP criticising the lack of progress made despite the passing of three years.
“More than three years after Grenfell, it is shameful how little progress has been made…The Government has continuously broken their promises, while tens of thousands of people across the country are stuck living in unsafe flats,” said Jones ahead of the vote.
The amendments were rejected by an overwhelming Tory majority
Despite the “shameful” delays towards ensuring the safety of thousands still living in unsafe housing and a chance to improve things, however, the vote to amend the Fire Safety Bill was rejected by an overwhelming majority of MPs. 185 MPs, mostly of Labour and other parties, voted in support while 309 MPs, entirely from the Conservative Party, voted against.
In the aftermath of the vote, the Conservative Party was lambasted by the Labour Party whose leadership branded their voting as a “shameful dereliction of duty” and a “breach” of the Government’s “promise to implement the recommendations from Phase 1 of the Grenfell Inquiry”.
Although criticism has been aimed at the Conservative Party as a whole, one MP drew particular ire from Grenfell activists: Felicity Buchan of Kensington whose constituents were the victims, was among those who voted against the Bill.
A former MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad, even quizzed Buchan’s conscience.
In a statement issued on Tuesday morning, Buchan responded to the criticisms, accusing the Labour Party of politicising the issue that was political to begin with and claimed that she rejected the Bill on account that Labour did not follow the correct procedure.
For her constituents, however, Buchan seemed to have her priorities set in the wrong place.
In her statement, Buchan expressed commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry. However, the lack of progress three years on by a Conservative Government and their voting, belies any such promises.