Fire safety amendment backed by Stevenage MP heads back to House of Commons for debate

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, whose actions were indirectly responsible for the development being

The McPartland-Smith amendment to the Fire Safety Bill passed in the House of Lords - Credit: Archant

A new government bill that could see leaseholders protected from historic fire safety defect bills - backed by Stevenage's MP -  is set to be debated in the House of Commons.

An amendment to the government's Fire Safety Bill, coined by Stephen McPartland MP and Royston Smith MP, will be heading back to parliamentarians for debate after the House of Lords approved it.

The Fire Safety Bill, first introduced last March, aims to rectify longstanding issues in the 2005 Fire Safety Order that can allow building owners to avoid fixing historic fire safety defects.

Thousands of leaseholders are facing huge bills to fix fire safety issues in their properties that were present long before they moved in.

The McPartland-Smith amendment aims to ensure that these historic costs are not passed onto leaseholders.

And Mr McPartland, a long-time ally of national anti-cladding groups, shared his thoughts on the news with this newspaper.

In a statement, he said: "This is brilliant news for millions of leaseholders and huge thanks to the Lord Bishop of St Albans and Lord Bishop of London for ensuring MPs now have the opportunity to vote on this.

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"The amendment protects leaseholders from paying for historic fire safety costs and retains the status quo in the Fire Safety Reform Order 2005.

"Leaseholders, action groups and supporters of the amendment do not want the taxpayer to pay, we want those responsible to pay and only the Government has the power to provide the funds up front and then levy those responsible to pay them back.

"The focus is now on to persuade the Government to work with us and leaseholders to find a compromise that protects leaseholders from paying for historic fire safety costs."

Almost exactly one month ago, Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, announced his five-point, £3.5 billion plan to the remove unsafe cladding on high rise buildings.

Billed as the "biggest ever investment in building safety", Mr Jenrick laid out plans to remove unsafe cladding on buildings over 18m and a loan scheme for leaseholders in buildings between 11-18m tall, among other points.

But campaign groups such as UK Cladding Action and Mr McPartland himself challenged the government to do more to protect all leaseholders from historic safety costs.

A spokesman for UK Cladding Action Group said: "Today's result is a welcomed step towards ending the misery innocent leaseholders across the country face through no fault of their own.

"Without such an Amendment, the Fire Safety Bill means historic fire safety defects would be passed onto leaseholders.

"We now look to the Government to do the right thing when it comes back to the Commons. Leaseholders cannot - and should not - have to pay to fix mistakes they did not create."

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