Thirty First Report Contents

Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: Government Amendment

1.This Bill was passed by the House of Commons on 13 December 2022. It was introduced in the House of Lords on 19 December. Committee stage began on 20 February 2023 and is scheduled to continue until 24 April.

2.In our 24th Report, we drew a number of powers in the Bill to the attention of the House.1

3.On 13 March, the Government tabled amendments to the Bill to be moved in Committee.

4.The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has provided a Supplementary Delegated Powers Memorandum (“the Supplementary Memorandum”)2 for those amendments.

5.We draw one power to the attention of the House.

Amendment 467D: new clause to be inserted after clause 214—power to replace the Health and Safety Executive as building safety regulator

6.The Building Safety Act 2022 (“the 2022 Act”) established a new “building safety regulator” in England to oversee a more stringent regulatory regime for “higher-risk buildings”3 and to drive improvements in building safety and performance standards in all buildings. This was one of a series of measures adopted in the 2022 Act:

“to learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire and to remedy the systemic issues identified by Dame Judith Hackitt4 by strengthening the whole regulatory system for building safety”.5

The 2022 Act provides for the Health and Safety Executive to be the “building safety regulator”.6

7.Amendment 467D inserts a new clause giving the Secretary of State a very broad power to make provision by regulations to:

8.The power conferred is a Henry VIII power: it allows the Secretary of State to “amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by or under [any] Act”.

9.The power is subject to the affirmative procedure7 but is otherwise subject to little by way of constraint—

10.The Supplementary Memorandum provides the following justification for the power—

“We consider it appropriate to act now, to ensure that we are ready to respond to the anticipated Grenfell Tower Inquiry final report expected later this year …

We understand that the direction of travel now is for the department to be able to act quickly where required to, on all aspects of building safety. Having the flexibility to act without needing further legislation to bring the regulator within the view of the DLUHC SoS and to allow the regulator to have a narrower focus than the wider remit of HSE, is prudent and more efficient in that regard.”8

11.We consider that this falls well short of providing adequate justification—

12.We consider that the Supplementary Memorandum provides wholly inadequate justification for giving the Secretary of State such a broad Henry VIII power to—

and thereby allowing something of such political significance as addressing recommendations made in the forthcoming final report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry to be left to Ministerial regulations.

13.Accordingly, we consider that Amendment 467D contains an inappropriate delegation of power that should not form part of the Bill.

1 Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, 24th Report (Session 2022–23, HL Paper 142).

3 The 2022 Act defines “higher-risk building” as one that is at least 18 metres in height or has at least 7 storeys, and is of a description specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State (see new s120D(2) of the Building Act 1984, inserted by s31 of the 2022 Act).

4 In her Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, published in May 2018.

5 See para 3 of the Explanatory Notes to the 2022 Act.

6 See s2 of the 2022 Act.

7 By virtue of Amendment 504GK.

8 At para 78.

9 Constitution Committee, The Legislative Process: The Delegation of Powers (16th Report, Session 2017–19, HL Paper 225), Summary para 4. See also paras 47–50.

10 See, for example, 34th Report (Session 2017–19, HL Paper 194), para 6.

11 See para 78 of the Supplementary Memorandum.

12 Ibid., para 71.

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