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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
May 15, 2018

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MPs warn Grenfell is the Government’s ‘biggest challenge’

MPs have warned Grenfell Tower is the biggest challenge the Government faces, as thousands of protestors marched on Parliament.

A Westminster Hall debate was held yesterday, after more than 156,000 people signed a petition calling for more panel members to be appointed to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Last week, the prime minister Theresa May announced she wanted to add two more panel members for the second phase of the inquiry’s work.

A 72-second silence was held in Westminster Hall before the debate started to remember the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

During the debate, Grenfell United and other campaigning groups held a rally in Parliament, demanding action.

Speaking in Westminster Hall, the Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad said it has been “11 long and very painful months for all those affected” and added a fourth food bank is about to open to serve the immediate Grenfell area.

“I find that shocking and unacceptable,” said Ms Dent Coad. “How can the Government stand by and wag their fingers while Kensington and Chelsea Council is so clearly failing in its statutory duties?”

While Tottenham MP David Lammy said that almost one year on from the disaster, and “despite all the promises that have been made”, 72 Grenfell households are still living in hotel rooms, a further 64 are still in temporary accommodation, and only one third have been housed.

“The inquiry is not for the Government, and it is not for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is for the victims,” said Mr Lammy.

“It is for the people who saw the burning, saw people jumping to their deaths, and still have to look at that tower every day. It is for the people who are still living in hotel rooms, 11 months on,” he added.


Conservative MP Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs that Grenfell is “the biggest challenge” that the Government faces.

“Grenfell asks us questions about who we are as Conservatives, what our values are, and our ability to connect with people from the wider community and with new immigrants,” said Mr Kwarteng.

“We can make lots of speeches—although I do not question our motives or emotional response—but I warn my fellow Conservative MPs that this is a big question about our own motivations and values. The eyes of the world and certainly of people in London are watching us carefully.”

Croydon MP, Steve Reed questioned the “money-go-round” that is operating in the fire safety sector.

“The BRE makes considerable revenue from running fire safety tests for cladding manufacturers, which are able to design their own tests and keep rerunning them, slightly differently, if they fail, until they get the result they desire.

“They are then able to keep the detail of those multiple tests, and even the fact that they have taken place, secret on grounds of commercial confidentiality. That simply cannot be right.”

Speaking on behalf of the Government, the Police and Fire Service Minister, Nick Hurd, said the number of households in emergency accommodation who have still not accepted offers is down to nine.

“That is nine households too many and nine households that I am personally committed to trying to sit down with and meet personally, to understand how they are feeling, but it would be wrong to say that no progress has been made or that no action has been taken,” said Mr Hurd.

“We are not going away on Grenfell,” added Mr Hurd. “We must deliver truth, justice and accountability.”

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