Government to consult public on Grenfell inquiry call for fire-safety legislation change

Jenrick says government needs the backing of people "most affected by" its response to inquiry recommendations

Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/PA Images

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is preparing to open a fresh public consultation on recommendations for new fire-safety regulations emerging from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

In a letter to inquiry chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the prime minister, Boris Johnson said government action on the findings of the inquiry's first report "continues at pace". 

The inquiry, which was set up in August 2017 to establish why the fire happened and how to prevent a similar tragedy happening again, published its first report and recommendations on how to improve building and fire safety on 30 October.


So far, the government has acted on some of the report's recommendations for government and other organisations. The recommendations included developing national guidelines for carrying out partial or total evacuations of high-rise buildings; equipping high-rise buildings with facilities to send an evacuation signal to the whole or part of the building; requirements for better signage in buildings; and more thorough inspections of lifts.

The inquiry also called for a regulatory duty on building owners and managers to share technical information with fire and rescue services, and to carry out regular inspections of flat entrance doors.

In a statement to parliament yesterday, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said it was the government's "intention to take forward" the fire-safety recommendations under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, along with the fire safety bill, which was introduced in March.

Jenrick said the bill "clarifies" that the 2005 order covers external walls, including cladding and balconies, and flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings.

"It provides a firm foundation upon which to bring forward secondary legislation to implement the recommendations that require further changes to the law," he said.

The cabinet minister added that it was "important that the government’s response to the inquiry’s recommendations has the support of those with experience in these matters, and those most affected by them". 

"To ensure their views inform our response, a public consultation will be issued soon setting out the government’s proposed approach to the remaining recommendations that call for legislative change," he said.

Jenrick's statement comes seven months after he said the government wanted to ensure the recommendations were "implemented without delay". Responding to the publication of the inquiry's report, he said the government would accept all of its findings "in full".

“We will bring forward legislation as soon as possible including ahead of the building safety bill if that would mean that any of Sir Martin’s recommendations can be implemented sooner than they would otherwise have been,” he said at the time.

'A matter of urgency'

The prime minister's letter was the latest in a string of correspondence with Moore-Bick.

In his last letter, sent in February, Johnson said the Cabinet Office was planning to appoint a recruitment company to shortlist candidates to fill an empty seat on the inquiry panel "as a matter of urgency". The vacancy arose when Benita Mehra, an engineer, stepped down at the end of January after she was linked to the charitable arm of a company that supplied the flammable cladding for the Grenfell Tower.

In yesterday's update, the PM said the executive search firm Perrett Lever was carrying out the search for the remaining panel member, which Johnson said was "progressing well".

Concluding his update, he said: "I hope that you, the Grenfell community and the wider public are reassured that in spite of current events, government action to address your recommendations continues at pace, and that, as minister responsible for the inquiry, my commitment to the inquiry remains firm."

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