Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Phase 1 Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 21st January 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse The Minister of State, Home Department 7:00 pm, 21st January 2020

Yes—my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State reassures me that we will absolutely keep a watching brief. The early signs are that the new protocol is having a beneficial effect.

Andy Slaughter raised a query about what will happen to the site. He should be aware that a commission has now been constituted. I gather that it has met a number of times, and it is very much being led by the bereaved, the survivors and the community themselves so that they are in the driving seat about what should happen on the site and what kind of memorial they wish to have. I am sure we can provide the hon. Gentleman with more information on that if he wishes.

Some Members raised issues around electrical safety compliance. Obviously progress has been made as far on the duty of landlords, in both the private and the social sector, to ensure compliance, particularly where small electrical goods are concerned. I am informed that the Consumers Minister—my hon. Friend Kelly Tolhurst—has commissioned the Office for Product Safety and Standards to develop options for increasing the rate of product registrations, including potential mandatory registration. A number of workstreams are under way looking to understand the barriers to registration and consumers’ attitudes to that registration, which will inform this work in the future.

Ms Buck and my hon. Friend Nickie Aiken—I know her area well from my time as a councillor and as a London Assembly member—raised the issue of sprinklers and the complexity of tenure that may stand in the way of the retrofitting of sprinklers in older blocks across the city. That is obviously a difficult and complex area of legality, not least because one would have to cross the barrier of possibly fitting sprinklers against the will of a property owner where they are in a collective block and therefore have collective safety, but I know colleagues in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will be dealing with the issue.

Finally, in her excellent speech, following on from her equally brilliant maiden speech in which she raised this subject, my hon. Friend Felicity Buchan mentioned a couple of issues. First, she said that she had met the new commissioner of the LFB, whom I have also met recently. He impressed me with his ambition and his willingness to embrace the issues for the London Fire Brigade that have been raised both by the inspectorate and by the inquiry. He does seem committed to real change in that organisation, which was very encouraging to see.

Along with Ms Abbott, my hon. Friend raised the issue of a member of the inquiry panel. The Home Office is obviously a core participant in the inquiry, so it would not be right for me to comment either way, but I can reassure both of them that the Cabinet Office is aware of this issue and is giving it some thought.

There is nothing that we can do to turn back the clock on this tragedy, and there are no words of condolence or sympathy that will bring back those who lost their lives or offer comfort to those whose lives have been irrevocably changed by this tragedy. All we can do is learn the lessons of this terrible event and work tirelessly to ensure that a disaster on this scale can never happen again.

It is incumbent on all of us—the Government, the emergency services, those responsible for managing high rise residential buildings and the construction industry—to work together to bring real change. I am confident that the inquiry’s detailed analysis of the evidence seen in phase 1 will continue to phase 2, and that the panel will uncover the full truth of what happened on that terrible, dark night.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s Phase 1 Report.