Weak regulations cause disasters like Grenfell Tower fire

Grenfell Tower was a block of flats with 24 floors in North Kensington, West London. On 14 June 2017, a fire broke out in Grenfell Tower and spread very fast throughout the block with the help of flammable cladding. This disaster destroyed Grenfell Tower and resulted in the loss of 72 lives. Many more were injured. This is a classic example of what can happen when regulations are non-existent or inadequate. If the Retained EU Law Bill becomes law, almost 4000 EU-derived laws could disappear overnight at the end of this year and ministers would only have to do nothing to let this happen.

Since the Grenfell Tower fire, there has been a public inquiry to find out what went wrong at Grenfell Tower and the lessons to be learned. The cladding on other blocks of flats has been checked to see which ones need better fire protection.

Jacob Rees-Mogg introduced the REUL Bill to implement his plans to scrap all EU-derived laws. When Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak reached the final round of a Conservative leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson last year, they competed to express the greatest zeal to scrap EU laws in order to appeal to Eurosceptic party members, whose support they needed to win and become the next PM.

They and their party colleagues have no idea what effect the disappearance of all these laws would be. They cannot name most of these laws or what they do. This is part of the Government’s post-Brexit deregulation agenda. They claim that the deregulation agenda is all about reducing burdens on business. However, this should not be the only consideration for deregulation. We must not allow Jacob Rees-Mogg and his friends to make a quick buck by cutting corners at everyone else’s expense.

When disaster strikes, we will be left to pick up the pieces and it could cost us dearly. For example, the 2008 financial crisis was caused by inadequate banking regulations and we all paid a high price for it. An inquiry heard that the Grenfell Tower disaster was caused by a “complex combination of corporate greed with complete disregard for safety”. Improving the fire protection of other blocks of flats will obviously cost money. But residents have a right to live in safe accommodation. One man’s burden is another man’s protection.

UKMA is concerned about the potential loss of some weights and measures legislation, which is listed in the Rees-Mogg’s Legislation Time Bomb MV article. This threatens the UKMA campaign’s goal of consumer protection through the use of a single system of measurement units for all official purposes. The default outcome is that the affected laws will be revoked at the end of this year. This will happen automatically if nothing is done to save them.

One of the affected laws is the 1985 Weights and Measures Act. What would happen if it disappears? It would probably result in a chaotic total absence of all weights and measures regulation. But this Act revoked the previous 1963 W&M Act. If the 1985 W&M Act is revoked, without any other ancillary provisions being made, would the 1963 W&M Act come back into force? What happens to other legislation, not affected by this Bill, but which refers to the 1985 W&M Act?

It is clear that the implications of the REUL Bill have not been properly considered. It will give ministers a free hand to decide what stays, what changes and what goes. We cannot trust the Government to save our standards, rights and protections. Why should we trust a Government that is hostile to W&M legislation that mandates use of the metric system and to any laws that were enacted as a result of EU directives?

Further reading:

5 thoughts on “Weak regulations cause disasters like Grenfell Tower fire”

  1. The REUL Bill is just one of the huge number of problems affecting the UK. With so many problems affecting the entire population it isn’t a surprise that bad elements in the government are taking advantage of the chaos to do even more damage. England has surely become the saddest place in the world to live.

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  2. The biggest non-metric issue currently is road distances and speed limits. How do foreign drivers react to our speed limits? Don’t be fooled into thinking that because speed limits in mph show smaller figures it will fail safe and foreigners with km/h speedometers may drive too slow rather than too fast. My observations suggest that foreigners simply ignore our speed limits because they don’t undestand them.
     
    A few years ago, when I was returning from a visit to France via Eurostar, I entered some road works with temporary speed restrictions not far from the Eurostar terminal exit. I slowed in response to the temporary speed limit. In my mirror I saw a car with a French registration come at me like a bat out of hell, and managed to avoid hitting me only just in time. No doubt visitors are briefed with our traffic regulations and are given km/h values of speed limits for motorways, etc., but temporary restrictions must be taken as they are found.

    I also read of a case where a foreign driver was caught speeding on a motorway. He was driving a hired car, in which the km/h markings on the speedometer were much less conspicuous than the mph ones. Our motorways no longer show the 70 mph speed limit (why, I don’t know) and he was driving as if at the familiar speed limit of motorways in his country, but interpreting the mph markings as though they were km/h.

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  3. Metricmac:

    You make some interesting observations. A few years ago I was travelling to the UK by car from the Continent. I was giving a young friend a lift over as he was going to start university in the UK. I asked at the reception desk on the ferry if they had any information about driving in the UK as the UK had road signs in non-metric units. They didn’t have anything at all to give me but simply said ‘We don’t have all those rules and regulations they have in Europe’, or words to that effect! Hmm! I think the road traffic regulations are no less strict and no less strictly enforced in the UK than on the Continent. But the ferries do provide leaflets and brochures for British travellers to the Continent. Perhaps that explains why your French driver didn’t understand the British road signs he saw. There tend to be, or certainly used to be, fixed road signs near ports showing the equivalents between km/h and mph, but once you had passed those signs there was nothing more to help you as a driver from the Continent visiting the UK by car or other motor vehicle.

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  4. @Metricnow:

    If a Frenchman plans to drive in Germany, they will continue to drive on the same side of the road, they will continue to use metric units and the laws regards right of way will be the same. The road signs might have slightly different fonts, but by and large they will be the same. They might have to learn a few key words like the equivalents of “Exit”, “Diversion”, “For XXXX use” etc, but nothing too drastic. Also, when they cross the border. it will not be too different to crossing from England into Scotland. If the same driver wishes to drive in the United Kingdom, they will have to drive on the other side of the road, get used to different rules regarding priority at junctions and the speed limits and distances will all seem strange. They will also have to negotiate a sea crossing. The easiest to change of these three issues is that of units of measure.

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  5. Martin Vliestra:

    I agree entirely with the points you make about visitors from mainland Europe driving in the UK. The fact also remains that, whether we are in the EU or not, the UK is a European country and a country that a lot of non-tourist, heavy goods traffic passes through on the way from Ireland to the European mainland. I’ve never quite understood how it is that a country that is part of the European road network can operate with non-standard units of measurement for road distances and speeds. I just don’t know how that works.

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