We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:59 pm on 30th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 1:59 pm, 30th October 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention and he is absolutely right; this is a huge gap in the Government’s response. The retrofitting of sprinklers will help to control and possibly stop the spread of a fire. It will not stop every fire, but it will save lives, which is why it is so important that that issue be addressed properly.

The Prime Minister must now act urgently on the Government’s failures following Grenfell: the failure to learn the lessons from previous high-rise fires, with no proper response having been made to the coroners’ recommendations made in 2013 following the Lakanal House fire and the Shirley Towers fires in Southampton. Those were terrible tragedies, where lives were lost—those of firefighters in the case of Shirley Towers and those of residents in the case of Lakanal House. We have to learn those lessons. We cannot be here, going on towards 2020, still talking about the coroner’s response from 2013 to the Lakanal House fire. Another failure was the failure to rehouse survivors, with some families still living in hotels and temporary accommodation more than two years on—that is shocking.

The Government have also failed to re-clad blocks identified with dangerous, Grenfell-style cladding. Disgracefully, as my hon. Friend Helen Hayes pointed out, eight in 10 residential blocks have still yet to have that ACM cladding replaced. Almost 60,000 people are still living in blocks that have this cladding: 18,000 in the residential social sector and 41,000 in the private sector. Thousands of blocks of flats all over the country need to be dealt with urgently now. I say that in respect of those with ACM cladding, but, as my hon. Friend pointed out, that is not the only dangerous cladding that must be dealt with. Local authorities must act quickly to ensure that every block in their community, whether public or private, is inspected and that the dangerous cladding is removed.

My constituency has some tower blocks. I went to a meeting after there had been a small fire in one flat, when fear ran all through the estate because people could see what had happened at Grenfell. Dangerous cladding was found in another block, and I commend my local authority, Islington, for immediately responding when it was discovered by putting fire watchers in within two hours and starting removing the cladding a week later. That is a local authority that is totally on it. The local authority got on to it straight away, and it is with pleasure that I have seen that the scaffolding is about to come down because the replacement has already happened. That shows what happens when local authorities work efficiently and quickly because they are totally on it.