Grenfell Tower inquiry ignoring systemic problems in 'betrayal' of victims, warn MPs

‘The decision to duck these important issues and fail to learn the broader lessons of Grenfell represents a grave injustice to those who died’

Lucy Pasha-Robinson@lucypasha
Wednesday 16 August 2017 11:15
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Labour’s Housing Minister John Healey said it was 'deeply unsatisfactory' that housing policy failings were being excluded
Labour’s Housing Minister John Healey said it was 'deeply unsatisfactory' that housing policy failings were being excluded

The public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster is facing fresh criticism after the Government announced it would not consider broader questions around social housing.

Downing Street set out the terms of reference of the probe led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, which will include scrutiny of building regulations and the actions of Kensington council (RBKC) both before and after the blaze that killed at least 80 people.

But the inquiry will fall short of considering the wider questions raised by the fire, including the impact of Britain’s social housing shortage.

The terms will instead evaluate the cause and spread of the fire, the design and refurbishment of the tower, building regulations, compliance, RBKC and the emergency service response to the fire.

Theresa May said while broader questions would not form part of the inquiry, she was “determined” they would not be left unanswered.

“The terms of reference set out by Sir Martin address crucial issues such as the cause of the fire and the adequacy of building and fire regulations which will allow the inquiry to get to the truth of what happened and learn the lessons to stop a similar catastrophe happening in the future,” she said.

“We are taking action with the Housing Minister (Alok Sharma) meeting social housing tenants to discuss the challenges they face and we will be setting out further proposals in due course.”

But Labour’s shadow Housing Minister John Healey said it was “deeply unsatisfactory” that housing policy failings were being excluded from Sir Martin’s remit.

Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad accused the Government of commissioning a “technical assessment” without getting to the “heart of the problem”.

“It is a complete betrayal of everything we were promised. Clearly, the Government are running scared,” she said.

Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy, whose friend Khadija Saye died in the fire, said the decision was a “grave injustice” to those who died.

“I am deeply disappointed that the narrow terms of reference ignore issue of the provision and management of social housing in the UK,” he said.

“The decision to duck these important issues and fail to learn the broader lessons of Grenfell represents a grave injustice to those who died.”

Radical Housing Network – an activist collective that includes the Grenfell Action Group – said the Government had missed an opportunity to answer wider questions.

“This is yet another refusal by the Government to confront the enormity of Grenfell, and the indictment of our housing system which it represents,” a spokesperson said.

“Investigators should be looking at the social policies which allowed such a tragedy in 21st-century Britain, and the way these have created a housing system in which some people matter more than others.”

Sir Martin had previously warned the scope of the investigation was unlikely to be broad enough to satisfy all survivors.

The 70-year-old’s appointment in June proved controversial after it emerged he once ruled in favour of Westminster council to rehouse a homeless mother-of-five 50 miles away in Milton Keynes.

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