Grenfell Tower fire: Jeremy Corbyn demands emergency funding for sprinklers in all UK tower blocks

'Such minimal fire safety standards cannot be left to a postcode lottery,' Prime Minister is told

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
@Rob_Merrick
Wednesday 21 June 2017 16:02
comments
Corbyn calls for emergency funding to put sprinklers in all tower blocks

Jeremy Corbyn has demanded emergency funding for sprinklers in all tower blocks to prevent a repeat of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Mocking the “thin gruel” of the Queen’s Speech, the Labour leader also focused on the tragedy in West London, calling on ministers to give local authorities the cash to act.

Remembering the “terrifying” scenes, Mr Corbyn noted that Labour-run Croydon Council had pledged to install sprinklers in all its tower blocks of 10 storeys or above, but other town halls have been silent.

“Such minimal fire safety standards cannot be left to a postcode lottery,” he told the Prime Minister, sitting opposite.

“Will the Government make available emergency funds for councils, to both check cladding and to install sprinklers?”

Mr Corbyn also tore into Kensington and Chelsea Council’s failure to protect people living in Grenfell Tower, saying: “When they were raising their desperate concerns they were ignored by a Conservative local authority.”

And he repeated his campaign demand for the Government to end the punishing one per cent public sector pay cap, which is due to run until the end of the decade.

“It’s not good enough to be grateful to our public service workers only at a moment of disaster,” he told the Prime Minister. “They deserve dignity.”

Turning to the Queen’s Speech, Mr Corbyn ridiculed the severely weakened Prime Minister for dumping most of her election manifesto after losing her Commons majority

He pointed to six promised measures which had bitten the dust, including the means-testing of winter fuel payments and ending the “triple lock” on pension increases – to the relief of pensioners.

New grammar schools and the pledge to end universal school meals in infant schools, replacing them with cut-price breakfasts, were also missing, Mr Corbyn noted.

“A threadbare legislative programme from a Government that has lost its majority and apparently run out of ideas altogether, “ he said.

“This would be a thin legislative programme even if it was for one year but for two years it is woefully inadequate.”

Noting that the Prime Minister was also backing away from bringing back “the barbaric practice of fox hunting”, Mr Corbyn added: “The good news may even extend to our furry friends.”

Mr Corbyn also mocked the Prime Minister’s warning, at the beginning of the election campaign, that “if I lose just six seats I will lose this election”.

“When it came to it, she lost more than four times that many seats to Labour,” he pointed out.

“From Cardiff to Canterbury, from Stockton to Kensington, people chose hope over fear. And they sent an unequivocal message: that austerity must be brought to an end.”

Mr Corbyn added: “We are a government in waiting with a policy programme that enthused and engaged millions of people.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments