FOLLOWING the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London, two Tory MPs in Cornwall have defended their decision to vote against a bill to make rented homes safer for human habitation, saying it would not have made any difference to the number of deaths and duplicated previous legislation.

Both Derek Thomas and George Eustice voted against a Labour amendment to the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 put forward in the House of Commons last year designed to make private rented homes safer for people to live in.

There had been accusations spread on social media that the MPs who voted against the bill had somehow contributed to the deaths but both MPs have pointed out the bill only related to the private sector and had nothing to do with the conditions at Grenfell Tower that was destroyed by fire last week.

Mr Eustice, MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, said: “The Grenfell Tower fire is a terrible tragedy and the Prime Minister has established a public inquiry to identify what went wrong and why the fire spread in the way that it did.

“However, the amendment being cited by some political activists on social media would not have made any difference.

“It was not about fire regulations in any way and it did not even apply to publicly owned housing like Grenfell Tower.

“It was opposed because it duplicated provisions that already existed in law, so was unnecessary. The whole country feels shocked and saddened over this tragedy but we need the public inquiry to focus on establishing the facts.”

Derek Thomas, MP for St Ives, said: “Local authorities have powers to address what are often described as ‘rogue landlords’ and Cornwall Council received a significant sum of money early last year from the Government to increase its work in this regard.

“What is needed is protection from ‘revenge eviction’ for tenants in private rentals when they raise a concern about their living conditions.

“The motion we opposed did not do this and the Government has been looking at how this issue can be addressed.

“This is however, completely unrelated to the Grenfell Tower fire last Wednesday morning where a number of people lost their lives.

“Great Britain has some of the highest fire safety standards and fires where lives are lost are rare. Something has gone terribly wrong and the PM is right to order a full public inquiry.”

Sarah Newton, MP for Falmouth and Truro, was a teller for the motion in 2016, and so was not required to vote.

She said: “I am horrified by the fire at Grenfell Tower. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has announced a judge led public enquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster. I will of course support any legislative action that the public enquiry recommends.

“The proposed amendment to the Housing & Planning Bill 2016… was in relation to private rented homes. Grenfell Tower homes were owned by the local council. I did not vote against this amendment.

“The Hansard record of the debates on the Housing & Planning Bill show that there was agreement across political parties that every tenant should live in a decent and safe home and that more needs to be done to crack down on the minority of ‘rogue landlords’ who do not follow the rules and shirk their responsibility. The debate was about making improvements to enforcement and redress.

“The bill has now become an act and brought in a range of new powers to tackle ‘rogue landlords’ in Cornwall and across the country.

“Landlords who flout rules on safety and affordability face tougher penalties. New rules came into force on April 6, 2017, so that ‘rogue landlords’ cannot shirk their responsibilities.”