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Old 14th June 2017, 03:07 PM   #121
a_unique_person
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
Whilst, as someone who practices in Scotland, I have some concerns about certain aspects of the English Building Regulations (combustability of escape stairs, for example) however it would be unfair to suggest that they are not appropriately rigorous or enforced at statutory consent stage.

As an expert witness, I have to say that workmanship and a failure to adequately inspect or check work on-site have to be the focus in very many cases. The move towards what is effectively self-certification and monitoring in a competitive market place does nothing to help.

We have one project out of all our portfilio where the (public sector) client was willing to appoint a clerk of works. That's not good.
It's called the free market. If your home catches fire and kills you, you rent a safer place next time.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:08 PM   #122
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Someone high up (I forget who) said the cladding was put on to make the building look more attractive to outsiders (cosmetic).
It's also likely to be part of an external insulation system retro-fitted to older buildings to increase energy efficiency, but I've not seen any clear descriptions.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:10 PM   #123
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Originally Posted by Newtons Bit View Post
It's the exterior finish of the vertical faces of walls. Typically doesn't have any insulative properties.
Just a decorative cladding then? Are you using single skin with rainscreen clsdding or somesuch?
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:11 PM   #124
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Originally Posted by Aber View Post
It's also likely to be part of an external insulation system retro-fitted to older buildings to increase energy efficiency, but I've not seen any clear descriptions.
This would be likely.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:13 PM   #125
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
That one is false. There were smoke detectors in every single flat.




You don't know that any of your list are true. You are in no position to decide that the standards were bad.
That doesn't work very well for people on upper floors if the fire starts on a lower floor.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:14 PM   #126
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Originally Posted by Aber View Post
It's also likely to be part of an external insulation system retro-fitted to older buildings to increase energy efficiency, but I've not seen any clear descriptions.
Whatever the reason, the 'expert' on tv said it may have acted like a flue, as with a chimney, when combined with a gust of wind, who-ooosh!

Some say, due to the intense heat internally it will collapse by tomorrow morning.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:15 PM   #127
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Why do they use it? (Cladding in general and this specific type.)
It looks nice and is cheap.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:17 PM   #128
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Whatever the reason, the 'expert' on tv said it may have acted like a flue, as with a chimney, when combined with a gust of wind, who-ooosh!

Some say, due to the intense heat internally it will collapse by tomorrow morning.

You're all asking the wrong questions.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:18 PM   #129
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
Which bit is the "siding" ? Do you mean the eaves, soffit, bargeboards, or the shiplap effect cladding in those photographs?
"Siding" mostly refers to the shiplap effect cladding in the photos from Bob001's links, although most of the soffit, bargeboards, and other trim is usually covered with the same material, only with a different texture or color. On older U.S. houses that would have been wood (not always in a shiplap pattern), but many houses have replaced the wood with vinyl or aluminum or other materials made to look like wood. Many newer houses are built with aluminum or vinyl siding from the beginning, but still try to make it look like wood. It costs more than wood, but (depending on the quality) can weather better, and never needs to be painted. The "Siding" is really just a name for the exterior surface of the house.

This often has thermal insulation under it, in addition to whatever insulation there might be between the studs (vertical boards within the frame of the walls). In houses that came with wood siding, the insulation is added when the wood siding is replaced with vinyl or aluminum.

Siding (new or retrofitted) is usually also underlaid with a waterproofing fabric material.

That's all for basic houses. Bigger buildings and commercial buildings are different, I don't know how those exteriors are.

ETA: My house, for example, is about 20 years old and still has wood siding in a shiplap pattern - but the wood is a sort of particle board rather than milled lumber. If I wanted to, and had the money, I could replace it with vinyl or aluminum that would look identical from all but a very close inspection.

My previous house had stucco siding. Particle board attached to the frame, waterproofing material over that, chicken wire over that, with the stucco sprayed on. That was some tough, durable stuff. I had to cut a hole through the exterior wall to install a vent, and destroyed a number of blades in the process - masonry held in place with wire mesh over wood.

Edit: I hope I don't sound like I am talking down to you - I reckon you've got most of the same things over there, but just use different terminology. American houses in general seem to be more lightly built than European houses. Wood frames, and any masonry is usually just a facade.

Last edited by crescent; 14th June 2017 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:22 PM   #130
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
The fact that fires like this are pretty rare in '70s-era buildings would tend to indicate that the building codes are not the problem. But if the contractor didn't comply with those codes, with the cladding, alarms or anything else, it certainly seems to be evidence of negligence.
I'm sure it was all inspected and signed off.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:25 PM   #131
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
Just a decorative cladding then? Are you using single skin with rainscreen clsdding or somesuch?
Mostly decorative, but it also protects a more fragile moisture barrier behind it. Typically, anyways. "Siding" has been produced from a wide variety of materials with varying purposes over the years.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:32 PM   #132
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
You're all asking the wrong questions.
As a layperson, I can.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:33 PM   #133
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NB

The UK doesn't tend to use such lightweight construction techniques for domestic properties; the norm remains a cavity construction. Outer leaf will be masonry, sometimes with a rendered coating for weatherproofing and decoration. And external insulation tends to be avoided other than in retrofit.

Not that any of this applies to the building in question. In those circumstances overcrowding is primarily to deal with poor thermal performance including cold bridging.
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:54 PM   #134
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
It's looking like the cladding allowed the fire to spread up the building very quickly and it's been reported the cladding was newly applied.
How does the cladding cause the fire to spread? Isn't there some thick non-flammable material in between the exterior cladding and your furniture inside? Aren't the building walls something like brick or concrete?
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:57 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
How does the cladding cause the fire to spread? Isn't there some thick non-flammable material in between the exterior cladding and your furniture inside? Aren't the building walls something like brick or concrete?
I suppose we will be finding out more about this soon, but my impression from the pictures is that the fire raged up the side of the building to begin with.
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Old 14th June 2017, 04:08 PM   #136
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I suppose we will be finding out more about this soon, but my impression from the pictures is that the fire raged up the side of the building to begin with.
I don't know if the pictures tell a full story. I saw what looked like apartments burning out. It might be the reverse... apartment furnishings burn so intensely that it causes the exterior cladding to combust and fall off.

I'm not qualified to say anything with certainty.
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Old 14th June 2017, 04:43 PM   #137
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Now reported that the cladding used in the refurbishing was Celotex RS5000. Not confirmed.
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Old 14th June 2017, 04:48 PM   #138
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Now reported that the cladding used in the refurbishing was Celotex RS5000. Not confirmed.
By the speed it burned it looks like they used Sellotape by mistake.
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Old 14th June 2017, 04:57 PM   #139
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
Skeptic Ginger

I'm afraid that your analogy bears no resemblance to specification of materials in the UK construction sector.

As a matter of interest what do you mean by a "siding" and why would it have insulation incorporated?
It was a simple question that didn't need to directly relate to my anecdote. If you are curious as to why aluminum siding would have insulation, it's because the aluminum has no insulating properties so they line the inside of the siding with insulation.

Back to my question:
The cladding burned, allowing the fire to spread at a tremendous rate.
Are there any competing hypotheses?
Why would such flammable material be used/approved for building siding?
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Old 14th June 2017, 04:58 PM   #140
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
How does the cladding cause the fire to spread? Isn't there some thick non-flammable material in between the exterior cladding and your furniture inside? Aren't the building walls something like brick or concrete?
Cladding catches fire.
Large sections of the exterior are on fire.
Window glass heats up and fails.
Fire spreads to interior.
Fire is now on both exterior and interior over multiple levels.

While the original fire may have been in a flat, again, the glass can easily fail. If that then ignites the Cladding this has effectively bypassed all interior anti-fire spread measures.

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Old 14th June 2017, 05:01 PM   #141
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Do you mean the fire spread even when you took the match away, like paper or cloth? Or did the insulation burn out when you took the match away? Sometimes fire-resistant means the material won't support a fire as a fuel source or burn on its own, not that it won't be affected by a direct flame.
It did continue to burn, yes.

Fire retardant property should mean an item doesn't easily produce a flame, but rather smolders or doesn't burn.
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Old 14th June 2017, 05:02 PM   #142
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
Which bit is the "siding" ? Do you mean the eaves, soffit, bargeboards, or the shiplap effect cladding in those photographs?
The shiplap.
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Old 14th June 2017, 05:06 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by a_unique_person View Post
That doesn't work very well for people on upper floors if the fire starts on a lower floor.
It would if there were proper firewalls between the flats and the stairwell and there wasn't that fast burning siding.

I think some hallway and stairwell alarms were in order but you don't want to evacuate a large building like that every time someone burns their toast.

Not to mention too many false alarms and the alarms would be ignored.

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Old 14th June 2017, 05:18 PM   #144
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
It was a simple question that didn't need to directly relate to my anecdote. If you are curious as to why aluminum siding would have insulation, it's because the aluminum has no insulating properties so they line the inside of the siding with insulation.

Back to my question:
The cladding burned, allowing the fire to spread at a tremendous rate.
Are there any competing hypotheses?
Why would such flammable material be used/approved for building siding?
The way they were constructed, meant they acted like a flue, allowing wind to whistle through and accelerate the flames (is the theory of one architect).
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Old 14th June 2017, 05:21 PM   #145
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
It would if there were proper firewalls between the flats and the stairwell and there wasn't that fast burning siding.

I think some hallway and stairwell alarms were in order but you don't want to evacuate a large building like that every time someone burns their toast.

Not to mention too many false alarms and the alarms would be ignored.
The design was meant to include a ventilation system which kept the sole stairwell free of smoke.

Either the fire took hold rapidly inside - if a gas pipe was on fire (?) - which was located beneath the stairwell, then that could explain the excess smoke.

Certainly the blaze looked exceptionally intense.

I hope it wasn't arson.
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Old 14th June 2017, 07:51 PM   #146
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Originally Posted by Newtons Bit View Post
[*]No fire alarm.[/list]..........
That one is false. There were smoke detectors in every single flat.
Originally Posted by Newtons Bit View Post
A fire alarm and a smoke detector are different things. Fire alarms trigger evacuations of whole buildings.
Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Mike G is in the building trade, and he wants to get all the facts before making any judgements. Something which would be wise for most of us to follow.

Someone in the building trade should know the difference between a smoke detector and a fire alarm. A smoke detector not wired into a central fire alarm is pretty much only beneficial to someone in the vicinity of the smoke detector.

If this is a difference between terminology in the US and the UK I apologize but I'm pretty sure it isn't. (Because a fire alarm would have dumped the entire building immediately upon any smoke alarm being triggered or upon someone pulling a red fire alarm lever manually.)



I do know that telling people in a large building this:

Originally Posted by GnaGnaMan View Post

Residents were told to stay inside their flats in case of fire.
Quote:
The ‘stay put’ fire policy
The only reason you should leave your home is if the fire is inside your home.
http://www.kctmo.org.uk/files/100428...y_2016_vff.pdf

Would be as illegal as **** in the US. Here it is policy to dump the entire building of people and deploy the fire department even if someone just has a really spicy taco burp.
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Old 14th June 2017, 07:56 PM   #147
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Originally Posted by This is The End View Post
...Would be as illegal as **** in the US. Here it is policy to dump the entire building of people and deploy the fire department even if someone just has a really spicy taco burp.
No it wouldn't and it was the correct advice for most fires. In hindsight everyone is appalled. But the problem here wasn't the advice, it was the lack of fire walls between units and between the stairwell.

I'll look into to policy here for our high rises next time I see someone at the fire department.

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Old 14th June 2017, 08:00 PM   #148
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
No it wouldn't and it was the correct advice for most fires.

Nope. In the US in government public housing every single smoke detector is wired to the central smoke alarm. As soon as one smoke detector is triggered the entire building is dumped of people.

Perhaps you are thinking of condos or apartments that are in separate buildings?
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Old 14th June 2017, 08:03 PM   #149
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Here in Colorado, staying in your home until it's on fire is how people die in wildfires.
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Old 14th June 2017, 08:05 PM   #150
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I'll look into to policy here for our high rises next time I see someone at the fire department.

I suppose the regulations could be regional but I have literally lived in several buildings that have operated like this.

It's statistically random but sometimes the building would be dumped several times a month! (Always seemed like it would happen at 3am too.) Sometimes zero times a month.

And 95% of the time it was just a burnt meatloaf or something.
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Old 14th June 2017, 08:08 PM   #151
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Originally Posted by This is The End View Post
Nope. In the US in government public housing every single smoke detector is wired to the central smoke alarm. As soon as one smoke detector is triggered the entire building is dumped of people.

Perhaps you are thinking of condos or apartments that are in separate buildings?
I was referring to evacuation vs shelter in place, not the alarm situation.
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Old 14th June 2017, 08:09 PM   #152
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Originally Posted by Silly Green Monkey View Post
Here in Colorado, staying in your home until it's on fire is how people die in wildfires.
That analogy is not applicable.
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Old 14th June 2017, 08:15 PM   #153
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During the live reports last night, I was reading that fire officials were telling all residents to get out of the building any way you can. Try to find a way out. Do not stay in your apartment. I guess they were communicating by phone and/or bullhorn.

The fire was out of control and essentially the presumption was that every single apartment would burn. Get the hell out right now. Do not stay no matter what you may be thinking!
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Old 14th June 2017, 08:36 PM   #154
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I was referring to evacuation vs shelter in place, not the alarm situation.

Yeah and the post you quote refers to both.

Buildings will have a diagram to the nearest exit on every floor. This would be practiced once a year by everyone.

A landlord of a large building telling residents to stay put if the fire alarm goes off would be in trouble deep.
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Old 14th June 2017, 08:54 PM   #155
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
The design was meant to include a ventilation system which kept the sole stairwell free of smoke.
....
Do we know for sure that it only had one stairwell? That would be astonishing -- and potentially lethal -- in a building that size.
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Old 14th June 2017, 08:55 PM   #156
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Originally Posted by This is The End View Post
I suppose the regulations could be regional but I have literally lived in several buildings that have operated like this.

It's statistically random but sometimes the building would be dumped several times a month! (Always seemed like it would happen at 3am too.) Sometimes zero times a month.

And 95% of the time it was just a burnt meatloaf or something.
3am - best time to burn a meatloaf.
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Old 14th June 2017, 09:35 PM   #157
theprestige
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Do we know for sure that it only had one stairwell? That would be astonishing -- and potentially lethal -- in a building that size.
Please cure your ignorance. Floor plans and other details have been linked.
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Old 14th June 2017, 10:00 PM   #158
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Originally Posted by This is The End View Post
Yeah and the post you quote refers to both....
Which is why I selected the part of your post I was applying to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by This is The End View Post
...Would be as illegal as **** in the US. Here it is policy to dump the entire building of people and deploy the fire department even if someone just has a really spicy taco burp.
As for the landlord being in trouble for a shelter in place plan, I'd like to see your source.
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Old 14th June 2017, 11:08 PM   #159
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
The way they were constructed, meant they acted like a flue, allowing wind to whistle through and accelerate the flames (is the theory of one architect).
I am afraid you are falling into the trap of commenting on stuff without full knowledge, and thereby muddying waters.

Deleted. Thought better of it.

I would urge you, and others, to damp down the speculation. They're only just starting to recover bodies from the fire. Nobody has looked at the cause of the fire, or how it was able to spread. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a Public Enquiry into this disaster, taking years and costing millions. In the nicest possible way, uninformed comment on the internet such as we are seeing here, is premature, almost certainly wrong, and is pretty alarmist. You are part of a rather unseemly feeding frenzy which would no doubt upset those involved in the fire and will 100% certainly end up casting aspersions where they shouldn't be cast whilst likely missing the point.
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Last edited by MikeG; 14th June 2017 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 14th June 2017, 11:23 PM   #160
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Given that this site is to encourage critical thinking, you might all wish to have a read of this before continuing to weigh in.

https://www.publications.parliament....9/10907.htm#a1
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