MPs vote down Labour motion to make safe buildings affected by cladding crisis

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

MPs have voted down, by a majority of 138, a Labour motion calling for the government to force developers to carry out all remediation work necessary to make buildings with Grenfell-style cladding safe by June 2022.

Labour’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech also required that ministers protect leaseholders from having to cover the costs of remediation work after the party called for the government to “act now to save lives and livelihoods“.

220 MPs backed the motion put forward by Labour this evening, while 358 opposed it. The motion followed repeated calls by Labour for a hard deadline for the completion of works and the protection of leaseholders.

Introducing the motion for the opposition party, Shadow Housing Secretary Lucy Powell told parliament: “June 2022 will be five years since the Grenfell disaster. Nobody should pass this milestone, living in an unsafe block.

“I believe the Secretary of State when he says he wants to do the right thing, but we need much more urgency. We need leadership. We need sustained and concerted action from the government to underpin the process and restore confidence.

“I want to work with him to get this right and quickly. The housing and local government select committee has set out strong proposals. The Labour frontbench has too. Let’s work together across this house, and sort it out.”

She said the government has put nothing in the Queen’s Speech to tackle rising homelessness and low levels of social and affordable housebuilding, and she criticised proposed planning system reforms, calling them a “developers’ charter”.

“These gaping holes speak volumes,” Powell told the minister. “Millionaire developer donor mates dealt a winning hand; renters, leaseholders, first-time buyers and local communities dealt a busted flush. Far from a national mission to put homes first for all, we’ve got more of the same.”

MPs considered Labour’s amendment during debate of the Queen’s Speech. The monarch’s address, made last week, is written by ministers and sets out the legislative agenda of the government for the next parliamentary session.

Keir Starmer highlighted the cladding crisis in his response to the Queen’s Speech in parliament last week. The Labour leader told Boris Johnson that he would have “guaranteed cross-party support” to tackle the problem.

“The Grenfell tragedy was four years and three Queen’s Speeches ago, yet thousands of people are trapped in unsafe buildings, and hundreds of thousands of leaseholders are caught up in homes they cannot sell or afford,” he said.

“People are facing bankruptcy and great anxiety. If anybody needed any reminder of the danger of this, they should look no further than the fire in East London last week. There is no excuse for the Prime Minister’s inaction on cladding.”

Leaseholders in the New Providence Wharf, which caught fire on May 7th, had warned developer Ballymore more than two years ago about the danger of smoke spread in the tower block and reported that fire wardens were ineffective.

The 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people, and the following inquiry exposed deficiencies in the building safety regime and the potential abuse of safety tests by companies supplying cladding and insulation across the UK.

Laws and regulations introduced to ensure that dangerous cladding is identified and removed have instead left many homes unsellable, with leaseholders being forced to pay tens of thousands of pounds to fix the issues.

According to Labour analysis of figures from the New Build Database, a national record of issues that affect homeowners, as many as 4.6 million properties home to 11 million residents could be affected by the cladding crisis.

Below is the full text of the motion tabled by Labour.

Amendment (h)
Keir Starmer
Angela Rayner
Rachel Reeves
Lucy Powell
Thangam Debbonaire
Sir Alan Campbell

At end add “but respectfully regret that the gracious speech fails to prevent the potentially ruinous costs of remediation works to make buildings safe being passed on to leaseholders and tenants; and call on the government to set a deadline of June 2022 to make all homes safe”.

Correction: This article originally stated that the majority was 38, which was incorrect. It was 138.

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