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Government responds to LUHC Committee’s plea over product testing review

04 March 2024

CLIVE BETTS, chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee in Parliament, recently wrote to Lee Rowley (Minister for Local Government and Building Safety at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) and pressed the Government to provide a detailed response to the Independent Review of the Construction Products Testing Regime. Rowley has now issued a reply outlining Westminster’s position.

The Independent Review was commissioned by the Government partly in response to the Grenfell Tower fire. The final report was published on 20 April last year, but the Government had yet to provide its response.

The LUHC Committee’s correspondence follows recent Committee evidence sessions involving Lee Rowley and the co-authors of the Independent Review’s report, namely Paul Morrell OBE (former chief construction advisor to the Government) and Anneliese Day KC.

Clive Betts explained: “Later this year, we will mark seven years since the tragedy of Grenfell. Fire safety and the efforts to make buildings safer for people to live in are crucially important. The Government established this Independent Review to examine issues of product safety but, almost ten months on from publication, the Government is still to respond.”

Betts continued: “I urge the Government to publish a full response to the Independent Review. The Government should provide a recommendation-by-recommendation response and clearly state how recommendations will be taken forward. It’s important the Government publishes a full response urgently to kick-start dialogue with industry and help to ensure that the fire risk of materials and products used in buildings is effectively minimised.”

The LUHC Committee’s correspondence also asked for clarification on how harmonised EU regulations on fire doors currently apply in the UK. Further, the chair’s letter pressed the Government to publish a Government-commissioned research report on over 3,000 construction products standards associated with testing. This follows on from the Minister’s commitment to do so in oral evidence given on 17 January.

Reply from Government

In his reply, dated 19 February, Lee Rowley has commented: “It’s the Government’s intention to respond to the Independent Review. This will be a multi-stage process, starting with a paper which draws upon the review and sets out the Government’s broad approach for comment.”

Rowley continues: “As the Committee recognised, this is a complex area of reform and, as I clarified to the Committee, we are keen to consult the sector as part of the process to firm up proposals to reform the sector. I’m grateful to Paul Morrell OBE and Anneliese Day KC for the extensive efforts undertaken in producing the Independent Review of the Construction Products Testing Regime. Their review maps out the existing system, identifies weaknesses and sets out recommendations for addressing these where they considered it appropriate. Their work has extensively informed how the DLUHC is developing its reform for the sector, and it will continue to do so.”

In terms of the research report, Rowley noted: “The 2020 research report discussed at the oral evidence session will be published in the coming weeks as I committed to do. Transparency is intrinsic to our work on construction products reform. I recognise that it’s therefore important that this research, referenced in the Independent Review, is published. I can confirm that the process for taking forward publication is well underway.”

As far as providing a timeline for the implementation of the Independent Review is concerned, Rowley affirmed that the Government will set out its approach in this area “in the weeks ahead”.

*The full response from the Minister (included detailed answers to the concerns over fire doors) may be viewed online