The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on Tuesday 31st January 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sharpe of Epsom on 13 December 2022 (HL3856), whether they can provide an itemised table from the Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) that details how many incidents where sky lanterns have been confirmed as the source of a fire.
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 13th December 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government whether they will list all incidents of fires having been caused by sky lanterns in the last five years.
Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con): Data collected through the Fire and Rescue Service Incident Recording System (IRS) does not include data on whether fire incidents attended were caused by or involved sky lanterns.
The Home Office collects data on incidents attended by Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs), with this data including the cause of the fire and the source of ignition. This data is published in a variety of publications, available at Gov.UK.
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer to four questions on 14th July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: asked Her Majesty’s Government:
what plans they have to provide low-interest long term loans to non-qualifying buy-to-lent landlords with more than two leasehold properties who are unable to afford fire safety remedial costs.
what assessment they have made of the number of non-qualifying buy-to-let landlords with two or more leasehold properties who will go bankrupt due to being unable to afford fire safety remedial work.
what assessment they have made of the number of non-qualifying buy-to-let landlords with more than two leasehold properties who (1) are unable to sell their properties, and (2) are unable to afford the fire safety remedial work.
what assistance they plan to provide to non-qualifying buy-to-let landlords with more than two leasehold properties who (1) are unable to sell their properties, and (2) are unable to afford the fire safety remedial work.
The Bishop of Leeds asked a question about plans for disposal of lithium ion batteries as more of them come to be used in e-bikes and scooters, during a debate on safety standards on 3rd March 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, however these things are regulated, we are building up a massive resource of batteries that one day will have to be disposed of, with the environmental risks that they bring as well. What assessment have the Government made of how in the long term we will deal with what could before too long become a problem?
On 2nd March 2022, the House of Lords debated amendments to the Building Safety Bill in Grand Committee. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in favour of a proportional approach to new safety regulations, balancing the need for remediation of risk with the potential effects on leaseholders:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I will add a few extra words to this. I apologise to the Committee; I am struggling, as I think a number of us are, as there are so many Bills going through that we are bobbing in and out of various Bills. It is frustrating for us that we cannot necessarily sit and follow everything through, but I think this probing amendment touches on some really important issues for us.
Not surprisingly, after the absolute horror of Grenfell, we are rightly trying to think about how we offer maximum safety for everybody. But safety comes at a cost, as we are all aware. As we work on a Bill that we hope will do its job for many years, we need to take an objective view on some of these areas, particularly on what the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, said about proportionality.
On 28th February the House of Lords debated the Building Safety Bill in the 3rd day of committee. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in support of his amendment 50A, which aims to strengthen tenants rights to consult with landlords over building safety, and require landlords to set up tenants associations to facilitate this:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendment 50A in my name and those of the noble Lords, Lord Blencathra and Lord Young of Cookham. Let me say how much I support the sentiments and intentions of the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, who has done us a real service.
I, too, do not want to die over the details of this amendment. I hope that this will stimulate a really vigorous debate so that we can all work together on how we get these sorts of commitments in the Bill. I and others on my Benches want to work with the Government and others to achieve this. If someone else can turn up with much better solutions, that is great.
Throughout the cladding and fire safety crisis, we have heard many stories of landlords imposing outrageous and sometimes astronomical building safety charges on leaseholders and tenants. Often this has been done by managing agents acting on behalf of the freeholder. Leaseholders and tenants have reported a complete lack of accountability and transparency throughout this process and have been unable to challenge or even scrutinise the charges imposed on them.
Following a government statement on building safety on 11th January 2022, the Bishop of St Albans asked a question on whether the government would fund the installation of sprinkler systems in taller buildings:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Secretary of State announced an additional £27 million for fire alarms. Are similar grants being considered for installing sprinklers in buildings over 11 metres?
On 24th May 2021 the Bishop of Blackburn asked a question on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans, on fire safety costs for leaseholders.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the (1) current, and (2) future, incidence of leaseholder bankruptcies attributable to remedial fire safety works and interim fire safety costs.
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: My Lords, on behalf of my right reverend colleague, I ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.
On 12th May 2021 the House of Lords questioned Government on fire safety and cladding, following a recent fire in east London.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, the Government have said that it is not right for the taxpayer to bail out leaseholders, but taxpayers’ money through the building safety fund could be bailing out developers for building substandard developments. What plan do the Government have to investigate whether developments met fire safety regulations at the time of construction and, in those cases where regulations were not met, to apportion remedial liability to the developers, so that those responsible actually pay?
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