Grenfell Tower - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:35 pm on 22nd June 2017.

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Photo of Lord Adebowale Lord Adebowale Crossbench 2:35 pm, 22nd June 2017

Having listened to the Statement and the comments from the House, I cannot help thinking, as a former housing officer, that this dreadful tragedy is a terrible episode in a systemic failure. I recognise that the Government are making every effort to respond to the tragedy—albeit too late—but I wonder whether the Minister might respond to the systemic issues. There is evidence that a letter was sent to the Housing Minister by the APPG—which consists of experts who know about fire safety in buildings—asking for the regulations to be updated. That advice and request should have been responded to some time ago and it would be a shame if a public inquiry stopped it being responded to now. Equally, the concerns that the Grenfell Tower residents sent to their landlord appear to have been ignored, and it would be a shame if a public inquiry stopped those concerns too being responded to immediately. Similarly, the comments from the noble Lord, Lord Bird, about ethnic cleansing cannot be ignored. I cannot help but notice that the skin colour of a number of the people affected by the tragedy happens to be nearer the shade of my skin than that of others. If we are to respond to the systemic issues of this tragedy as well as the episodic ones, we have to look at the allocations policy in local government housing, at the design of social housing and at the paucity of policy leadership in this area. Perhaps the Minister would care to respond to that.