Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)
I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require public houses to have annual electrical safety tests; to make associated provision about licensing, insurance and enforcement; and for connected purposes.
The Bill is vital—it will save lives. Had it been on the statute book earlier, the life of Harvey Tyrrell, a young boy from Romford who died in tragic circumstances, would have been saved. The Bill is designed to ensure that the circumstances of Harvey’s death will never be repeated. Harvey must not have died in vain. I dedicate the Bill to his name.
Harvey was a wonderful young seven-year-old boy who brought joy to all those around him. He had a passion for singing, dancing and playing sport, and he had a particular love of football. While I never had the privilege of meeting him, I know from those who did that he was a kind and caring young boy who would always look out for others and be there to support his family and friends. Following Harvey’s death, I spent time speaking with his mother, Danielle, who recounted many stories of her and Harvey endlessly laughing at the many jokes he would tell. By all accounts he was a lovely young lad with a wonderful future ahead of him, but his life was cruelly and suddenly taken away.
On 11 September 2018, Harvey and his mother went out for a pub lunch, as is such a great and treasured tradition, particularly in our beloved county of Essex. Tragically, Harvey did not come home that day. I am ashamed to say that the King Harold—a pub in the Harold Hill area of Romford, just over the border in the Hornchurch and Upminster constituency—was a death trap. When Harvey innocently placed his hand on a metal railing, electricity surged through his body. The horrified patrons of the pub could only watch as Harvey collapsed, before running over to help him. Paramedics were called and Harvey was rushed to hospital, but, tragically, he was later pronounced dead.
It was a deeply sad day for the Harold Hill and Harold Wood community, for Romford and for the whole borough of Havering. I thank Councillor Brian Eagling, Councillor Darren Wise and Councillor Martin Goode—the local councillors for the area—for the enormous support and kindness they showed to Harvey’s family. They were instrumental in working with me to ensure that the Bill could be placed before the House. Harvey’s death was completely avoidable and we must act now to ensure that such a wicked loss of life in these circumstances never happens again.
In the months prior to that horrific event, it was reported that the landlord had been electrocuted while on the premises and that, instead of resolving the issue, he joked with the regulars in the pub about the faulty wiring. That was a completely unacceptable way to operate a business. The safety of customers should always be at the forefront of an owner’s mind. Had the owner of the King Harold been conscious of safety or followed existing legislation, young Harvey would still be with us today.
Inspections in the aftermath of Harvey’s death revealed the true extent of the danger that customers faced when entering the pub. It was found that there were 12 defects at the pub, which posed a risk of injury, including by electric shock, and 32 potentially dangerous defects. It was also found that the faulty lights that had caused the metal pole to become electrified were attached to an unmetered supply, from which the pub owner had been stealing electricity.
During the trial of the owner of the King Harold, an expert described the pub as
“the most dangerous thing he had seen in 40 years”
and said that he was
“horrified the owner was able to ignore health and safety regulations, dodge his duty to seek planning permission for building projects and didn’t care about the dangers in the pub.”
So I am glad that the owner of the King Harold and his brother-in-law, who was responsible for the electrics in the pub, were both jailed for their involvement in this awful incident.
However, those sentences could not bring Harvey back to his mother, his family and his friends and there is no safeguard in place to stop that kind of incident happening again. As it currently stands, regulation of electrical safety in pubs is not fit for purpose. It is covered by regulation 4 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. This regulation requires businesses to ensure that electrical installations are constructed and maintained in a way that prevents danger. That includes having the installations regularly tested and keeping a record of this. However, at the moment, it is down to the duty holder within the business to provide the relevant checks. There are no organisations, whether Government or private, monitoring whether pubs have complied with that standard.
Customers must be able to enter a pub with the confidence that they are not at any risk of injury—surely a basic requirement that any business should adhere to. In the light of the catastrophic events surrounding Harvey’s death, I believe that we must urgently act to strengthen the enforcement of electrical safety standards throughout the United Kingdom. That is why, with Harvey Tyrrell’s law—the Public Houses (Electrical Safety) Bill—I am proposing comprehensive measures to ensure that customers can enter pubs with the confidence that they will be safe from injury.
My Bill would require pub owners to get the electrical systems in their pubs checked a minimum of every five years, to bring pubs in line with the regulations on electrical safety checks in rental properties. The Bill also requires safety tests to be conducted by a qualified person, such as a registered electrician, thus creating confidence for the pub owner and the customers that the checks have been followed correctly and that electrical systems are safe.
An electrical safety certification should also be linked to the pub’s alcohol licence and the local authority would have to do no more than check that the pub owner had submitted the documentation proving that their premises had been tested for electrical safety before approving an alcohol licence.
I know that many hard-working pub owners would welcome those proposals, which improve everyone’s safety, including their own. I am a huge supporter of the great English pub and want pubs to remain at the heart of our community, so I am not seeking to create unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy, but we must ensure that they are places where people can enjoy themselves in safety. I believe that the measures I have outlined in the Bill, Harvey Tyrrell’s law, will successfully achieve this and I call upon Her Majesty’s Government to act swiftly in this regard.
My Bill will create a firm framework to ensure that the shocking events that surrounded the death of young Harvey are never repeated. It will keep people safe and prevent needless loss of life. I commend it to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
That Andrew Rosindell, Henry Smith, Alexander Stafford, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Tom Hunt, Chris Grayling, Mrs Sheryll Murray, Jon Cruddas, Dame Margaret Hodge, Joy Morrissey, Ian Lavery and Robert Halfon present the Bill.
Andrew Rosindell accordingly presented the Bill.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 21 January 2022 and to be printed (Bill 181).
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Today marks the beginning of Islamophobia Awareness Month, a call to tackle this insidious hatred. This time last year, to mark this month, I wrote to the Prime Minister raising concern over Islamophobia and urging him to better safeguard British Muslims and to fulfil his promise to carry out an independent investigation into his party. A year on, the Prime Minister still has not responded. That is wholly unacceptable and an insult to British Muslims. Mr Speaker, is it in order for the Prime Minister to ignore Members’ correspondence? If it is not, what action can I now take? Perhaps the Prime Minister could come to this Chamber to make a statement on Islamophobia Awareness Month.
I thank the hon. Member for giving me notice of his point of order. I can confirm that I have had notice on this subject and a statement about it. I would of course expect the Prime Minister, and any Minister, to respond to Members from all parts of the House. That is what Ministers are there for; as I have said before, they are answerable to this House and to MPs. We need to support Members of Parliament to carry out their duties, so I would expect that all correspondence is answered in a timely way. I am sure that that message will have got through, via those on the Government Benches, and back to the Prime Minister. If the hon. Member does not receive a response quickly following his point of order, he is welcome to discuss with the Table Office in what way he might pursue that question, but I genuinely believe that people do get a lot, and I would not expect any Member not to be answered, so I can only presume—and hope—that there has been a genuine mistake.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Afzal Khan) is quite right to raise, in Islamophobia Awareness Month, the importance of countering anti-Muslim hatred. I know that he has secured a Westminster Hall debate later this week, which the Minister for Equalities and Minister for Levelling Up Communities, my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Kemi Badenoch), will be responding to. There is an anti-Muslim hatred working group in my Department and, indeed, an independent adviser on Islamophobia. There is direct governmental responsibility, which rests with my Department, to deal with the issues that the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton quite rightly raises. On the related question of matters within the Conservative party, I will make sure that his correspondence is replied to in a timely way.