Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry

Part of Humanitarian Situation in Mosul – in the House of Commons at 5:36 pm on 12th July 2017.

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Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Labour, Hammersmith 5:36 pm, 12th July 2017

I absolutely agree that we can learn from the devolved Administrations on this issue. It is weasel words for the Minister to say that the coroner did not insist that we follow that recommendation. A coroner cannot insist on such matters. The coroner gave a clear indication, and the Government dodged the issue. I think that it should be revisited.

Another issue that should be revisited is who carries out inspections of tower blocks. That is not just about cladding, but about fire alarms, means of escape, maintenance and access for emergency vehicles. In the course of the public inquiry, we may find out that all of those were factors at Grenfell Tower. We must not wait for the inquiry, because my constituents who live in tower blocks will not be able to sleep easily in their beds at night until they know that they are living, as they always thought they were, in entirely safe buildings and until they know what they are supposed to do in the case of a fire. The Minister therefore has quite a long agenda to tackle.

Let me make one final point. It is a matter for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy rather than for the Minister’s Department, but I know he is taking an interest in it. The cause of the fire was once again a white good manufactured by one of the Whirlpool companies. It caused an electrical fire in a fridge-freezer, just as one of the known fire risk white goods—an Indesit tumble dryer—caught fire causing a substantial tower block fire in my constituency last year. When are the Government going to start tackling these issues?

The issues involve the registration of white goods, the collection of data on which are safe and which are unsafe, the recall of products when they are shown to be dangerous and the release of the risk assessments that currently—and scandalously—are not revealed on grounds of commercial confidentiality for the companies that manufacture the goods. It is another whole area of investigation that is long overdue. Although much of the attention on Grenfell concentrates on the external spread of the fire, the fire would never have got outside the tower block had it not started in a fridge-freezer. We still do not know—because the Government have not said—whether the tests have been completed, whether it was due to a design fault or whether the construction of that model allowed the fire to take hold.

I hope that the points I have made are all relevant and are all matters for the public inquiry to consider, but some of them cannot wait until then. Certainly, the relief and rehousing of the people who have been displaced by the Grenfell fire cannot wait any longer. We are about to enter the summer recess, and I hope we do not come back in September or October to find that nothing has changed. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, because she has been thrown in at the deep end in no uncertain fashion and she has absolutely risen to the challenge. She is a strong and powerful advocate for her community, but she cannot do it all on her own; this is a job, both locally and nationally, for the Government to take hold of. We must not forget this terrible tragedy, which has blighted our country, because if we do not learn lessons from it, it will recur again.