I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement that there are to be two additional members of the Grenfell Tower panel, with relevant qualifications to ensure that we have a thorough and effective inquiry into what happened. Mrs May has listened and acted following a 156,000 signature petition, including some from my constituency, calling on her to appoint the two new members to sit alongside the Chairman for the second stage of the Grenfell Tower inquiry, which should start in December.
Apologies are not enough. Grenfell was a complete failure of our system on the most horrific scale, with the most horrific consequences. 72 people needlessly lost their lives and hundreds more lives are ruined because of what happened at Grenfell. It is entirely unacceptable that this could happen in this day and age. It is our 9/11 but it is entirely self-inflicted.
I have met many members of Grenfell United and local residents over the past eleven months. During a Westminster Hall debate I paid tribute to their determination, their composure and their steadfast approach to getting answers and finding solutions, although I would understand if they felt that they had no trust in a system which has let them down so badly.
There are other big questions that need answering. However, the important point is that this tragedy must never happen again. I am a member of the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee, which has looked into the Grenfell tragedy. We are very concerned that Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report seems to imply that there will be an outcomes or risks-based approach, rather than a simple prescriptive approach to completely ban combustible insulation and cladding. I do not believe that Parliament would ever countenance anything other than an outright ban.
We need confidence in the inquiry and the Prime Minister has made the right decision by appointing two additional members to the panel. We must continue to support and rehouse those affected. Meanwhile, I shall continue to work with the HCLG committee to ensure that regulations are as clear and risk-free as possible to make sure that this never happens again.