Government’s Internal Market Bill “may weaken Scotland’s Grenfell protections” warns leading architect
28 September 2020
THE INTERNAL Market Bill seeks to remove and prevent trade barriers between the four UK nations. In doing so, it aims to legislate that goods approved for use in one part of the UK will be able to be used in other parts of the UK without restriction.
For example, it will mean “Scotland will have to accept the flammable cladding which caused the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, even though it is currently illegal to use it in the country.”
Peter Drummond, a senior member of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), has commented: “It is simply inexplicable that the Internal Market Bill seeks to align the more robust Scottish regulations with the English system. Those powers are now to be removed. The lowest common denominator within the UK will apply. That is, on any fair reading, a spectacularly poor backwards step. We should all be concerned.”
Drummond, whose architecture firm operates out of offices in Glasgow and Kilmarnock, informed the BBC that the Scottish Government introduced measures to protect occupants of residential properties after a fire in high-rise flats in Irvine back in 2003.
Michael Russell, Scotland's Constitution Secretary, observed: “The UK Internal Market White Paper cited Building Regulations as an example of a potential barrier to the functioning of the UK internal market. There is no credible evidence to support this view. Differences in Building Regulations between England and Scotland have existed for decades and do not present significant issues for those providing goods or services or, indeed, to those delivering our built environment. The construction sector is familiar with such differences and they are well managed.”
A UK Government spokesperson responded: “Building Regulations are a devolved matter, with each of the four nations responsible for developing and enforcing their own regulations. The Scottish Government and the devolved administrations will continue to be able to set their own regulations in areas of devolved competence, including when it comes to Building Regulations.”
The Conservative Government has much on its plate at present with the resurging pandemic and Brexit fast approaching. It stands to reason that close attention is needed when it comes to the details of the Internal Market Bill to ensure that the work transacted so far to prevent a tragedy like Grenfell Tower from ever happening again is not derailed in any way.