‘Victory’ in Dearne smoke alarm law crusade

Libby-Jayne Hornsby, who has tragically died following a house fire in Conisbrough.
Libby-Jayne Hornsby, who has tragically died following a house fire in Conisbrough.

Your South Yorkshire Times campaign for a ‘smoke alarm law’ in the name of a Conisbrough girl who died in a house fire has taken a major step forward after more than 200 MPs pledged their support.

The proposal cleared its first major hurdle in the House of Commons after 245 members backed a private members bill, which calls on the government to make it law for smoke alarms to be fitted in private rented properties.

John Healey, MP

John Healey, MP

We launched our ‘Do it for Libby’ campaign after Libby-Jayne Hornsby, two, died in a blaze at her rented Conisbrough home last October which did not have smoke alarms fitted. An inquest heard the fire was started by another child in the house playing with a cigarette lighter.

The tragic tot’s family, Doncaster coroner Nicola Mundy, politicians and fire chiefs have all backed us and hailed this parliamentary move as a ‘huge victory’.

Dearne MP John Healey said: “I want to say a huge thank you to the South Yorkshire Times for their work on this campaign.

“Private rented homes are more likely to be without a smoke alarm than social or owned houses. Without a smoke alarm, you are four times more likely to die in a fire. It’s a matter of life and death.”

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint added a Labour government would introduce the new law. She said: “The tragic accident that took away Libby-Jayne Hornsby is not an isolated incident. Years after smoke alarms have become commonplace, one in five privately rented homes still does not have a smoke alarm.

“Not only do smoke alarms save lives, but they can be bought for as little as £5. There is no excuse for landlords not to put them in every property.”

Labour’s former fire minister Nick Raynsford MP introduced the bill under the ‘ten minute rule’.

It is unlikely to receive a second reading as they take a low priority and are generally timed out by other business.

But Labour MPs will use it as evidence to continue lobbying ministers and raising awareness of the issue.

The department for communities and local government is considering responses to a review and will publish their decision later in the year.

The Energy Act, given royal assent in 2013, contains a clause which makes it possible for government to introduce the new smoke alarm law. The bill calls on minister Eric Pickles to lay an order to enact this law by January 2015.