The minister gave an update to MPs this afternoon on the Government’s plans to tackle flammable cladding still attached to living blocks across the UK. However, the majority of his plans had already been briefed to the media over the weekend.
The Speaker has repeatedly been left angry by ministers failing to stick to parliamentary procedure in recent months.
Making his frustration clear in the Commons this afternoon he said: “In this case I accept that the issues of market sensitivity meant the announcement had to be made this morning.
“However, I am told the announcement was required because of speculation about the policy change over the weekend.
“That speculation appears to have been substantially accurate which means that the media appears to have known the details before this House.
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“If that is the case, I would be grateful if the Secretary of State could confirm that a leak inquiry is to be held.”
Describing the matter as being of “considerable regret”, Mr Gove said he had already instructed the most senior civil servant in his department to look into how the information got out.
It was reported by a Sunday newspaper that no leaseholder living in a block above 11 metres would have to pay for fixing dangerous problems.
Instead building developers responsible for placing the flammable cladding on buildings would be made to pay the cost of replacement.
Ministers will convene a meeting with industry to find an agreed way to cover the estimated £4billion costs.
The policy is a significant U-turn after those living in buildings between 11m to 18m were previously expected to cover the cost themselves.
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The change means those in buildings above 11m now have the same protection as those in high-rise blocks.
The Communities Secretary told MPs: “I can confirm that I have asked the permanent secretary of my department to conduct a leak inquiry.
“It was a matter of considerable regret to me that details of the statement that I am about to give were shared with the media before they were shared with members of this house and indeed those most affected.”
Some MPs could be heard laughing as Mr Gove confirmed the inquiry, with opposition members accusing the minister of being aware the details would be announced prior to his Commons appearance.
A leak investigation was also launched by the Prime Minister in October 2020 after his plans to impose a month-long second national lockdown appeared in the media before officially being announced.
The results of that inquiry have never been made public.
Sir Lindsay has warned the Government he will not hesitate to punish ministers if they continue to fail to honour parliamentary rules.
Last month he said he would play “hardball” on the matter with the Government.