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Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Phase 1 Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 21st January 2020.

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Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 3:35 pm, 21st January 2020

I did look into that issue when the right hon. Lady raised it after the fire in Barking. I am acutely aware of the number of individuals who do not have household insurance—that was brought home to me after the floods in Doncaster last year, when we encountered many households that did not have it. I do not think that it is for the state to intervene—I am not sure how practical it would be for household insurance to be provided centrally, regardless of the value of the contents of individuals’ homes—but I am happy to think again, and to speak to the right hon. Lady if that would be helpful.

My Department continues to hold regular meetings with the crucial stakeholders, including Grenfell United, to discuss our emerging proposals, and to ensure that the reform we are introducing is what is needed to deliver meaningful change. I am grateful for their engagement and commitment. It was at their request that we did not rush to publish the social housing White Paper, but are continuing to work with them to ensure that they will—I hope—be able to support it in due course. I will report back to the House shortly with our conclusions.

We know that for the families, the relatives and the survivors, change cannot come quickly enough, and we know that there is still a huge amount to do. We have heard that already, in the opening of this debate. The recent fire in Barking and the fire in Bolton at the end of last year only serve to remind us of the urgency with which we must act, and will continue to guide our work.

Phase 1 of the inquiry was just the first part of a complex process to uncover the truth of what happened. Next week, phase 2 hearings will begin as the work of the inquiry continues. Those hearings will help us to understand how the building was so dangerously exposed to the risk of fire. I have no doubt that Sir Martin will leave no stone unturned in his work. There will be tough questions for those involved in the refurbishment of the tower, and for the manufacturers of the materials used; but there will also be questions for central and local government to respond to, and I will support the work of the inquiry in any way I can.

We also continue to work alongside others to bring about changes that will protect the public, and I will ensure that further updates on the steps taken to implement the chairman’s recommendations are shared with the House at the earliest opportunity.