Grenfell Tower and Fire Safety: Update - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:12 pm on 20th July 2017.

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Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 2:12 pm, 20th July 2017

My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Shipley, for their contributions. I will try to deal with the various points they made. I thank them very much for echoing the thanks to our dedicated public servants across the piece for all they have done and the support that we continue to give them. The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, mentioned the fire brigade in particular, and I am happy to say how important its work is and how much we as a Government respect and value what it does. I am grateful to both noble Lords for the continuing support, because this issue unites us and does not divide us.

I will try to deal with some of the points that were raised. First, the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, spoke about the quality of accommodation and the issue of rehoming. We have to respect the trauma that these families have been through, which often makes it difficult for them to make a decision, even over a period of weeks, about their accommodation. In many cases they are not certain where they want to settle and we respect that. We have made offers of temporary accommodation to all families. Some have taken those offers up and some have not, but from what I can see I am certainly satisfied that the accommodation has been of an outstanding quality in all cases.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, spoke about the task force and the work of gold command being vital—I absolutely agree with that—and the importance of the council winning back trust. I thank him for what he said about how the leader of the council, Elizabeth Campbell, is trying to win back trust. She is reaching out genuinely to all people who have been victims and to the opposition parties. That is certainly the approach that the Government want and support. The noble Lord talked about outstanding samples that needed testing. The number is actually seven; perhaps the noble Lord’s figure is slightly out of date. It has come tumbling down over the last 48 hours, so seven tower blocks—