12/07/2017 House of Commons

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Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons, including a general debate on the Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry.

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statement... Abby honourable gentleman for Ealing North has


forged new alliance with a member of the SNP. I do not know who should be


more afraid! The statement the Secretary of State for International


Development, Secretary Priti Patel. Thank you. With permission, I would


like to update the house or my departments continued support for


the people of Mosul. The Prime Minister of Iraq called for the


Mosul to be liberated after the city fell to Daesh. This comes after a


manageable oppression by Daesh. Fear of execution, abductions, forced


marriages, destruction of the city, it comes after nine months of heavy


fighting for the Iraqi security forces who faced brutal Daesh


tactics including the use of human shields and suicide bombers. My


honourable friend will provide the house with a more detailed update


tomorrow on the ongoing military campaign in Iraq and Syria and the


UK role in the effort. The declaration that Mosul is free again


is a great victory for the people of Iraq and a great stride forward for


global security. I'm sure that the house will help me commend the


extraordinary bravery of the Iraq forces to put the protection of


civilians at the heart of their military campaign acting to reduce


civilian casualties where they could and risking their lives to evacuate


civilians avoiding the bullets of the Daesh fighters. We should


recognise the professionalism, their sacrifice and they have been backed


up by the international coalition forces including the IRS who have


taken all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of


air strikes to reduce the risk of civilian lives.


We should also write -- we should also recognise the bravery of the


people of Mosul, the people who have been out -- the children who have


been out of school and who are now back in the classroom. Doctors are


giving life-saving treatment once again to their fellow citizens,


volunteers are clearing the rubble from the streets and public


buildings. We must, though, be realistic about the challenges


ahead. Almost 50,000 homes have been destroyed, although 200,000 people


have returned to their homes in eastern Mosul, over 7000 people are


still displaced. Explosive remnants of this war would be a problem for


many months to come. After winning the battle for Mosul, it is


important to win the peace, and now begins that painstaking task of


rebuilding and reconciling, so that communities can live peacefully


alongside one another once more, and citizens can start to rebuild their


lives. As a global humanitarian leader, the United Kingdom has been


at the forefront of the efforts to support the humanitarian response,


and will continue to stand alongside the people of Iraq in the months


ahead. From the start of the Mosul operations, the UK has provided


shelter, military and -- medical care and food to those who have lost


their homes through the fighting or who have been forced to flee. The


UK's the largest donor to the Iraq humanitarian fund, and we are


providing practical, life-saving support including water in camps for


over 166,000 displaced people, cash assistance to over 50,000 vulnerable


people, and life-saving health care including a trauma hospital to treat


the victims of the fight against Daesh. Today, Mr Speaker, I can


confirm that the UK will provide ?40 million of humanitarian funding this


year, taking our total commitment just in Iraq to ?209 million since


2014. This funding will help to ensure that the displaced


communities, the displaced people, will receive the much needed


shelter, food and medical support, and will provide protection for the


most vulnerable. ?80 million of this funding has already been allocated


to partners who are working hard to deliver assistance around Mosul. The


United Nations has also said funding requirements for Iraq in 2017, at


$984 million. The UK is stepping up, and I continue to call upon my


colleagues in the international development community, the donors,


to follow Britain's lead. They are stashed community must continue to


support the people of Mosul and Iraq. As people return home, they


will need support to rebuild their lives. Humanitarian partners are


helping to re-establish basic services including carrying out food


distribution in areas where markets are not yet functioning, and provide


cash assistance so that vulnerable people can buy what they most need.


And in East Mosul, DFID's humanitarian funding, and Unicef,


has already helped to reopen health facilities and provide clean water


in the liberated areas, which is essential for people to be able to


return home. DFID will also provide ?6 million this year for the


stabilisation efforts, helping to restore basic services and


infrastructure in the liberated areas including in Mosul, and


through UN DUP, funding has already helped to rehabilitate the water


plant in eastern Mosul, and over 750 schools have already reopened, and


about 300,000 children to sit exams. Our funding will also support local


reconciliation, helping displaced people to reintegrate back into


their communities when they return home. Across Iraq, over 1 million


people have returned to their homes, in areas where UK funded


stabilisation projects are working. But ultimately, Mr Speaker, to win


peace in Iraq, the Government will need to unite all Iraqis against


extremism. And address the grievances that led to Daesh's rise,


and persuade all Iraqi communities that they have a fair stake in their


nation's future. The UK will continue to be steadfast in their


support to the Government of Iraq's efforts to drive forward reform,


reconciliation and stabilisation. In conclusion, this week's victory


against Daesh in Mosul marks an important moment in the campaign to


defeat this terror group, and the poisonous ideology, and we will join


our Iraqi friends in celebrating the liberalisation of this historic


city. The UK will continue to provide humanitarian and


stabilisation assistance, and also to support the Government of Iraq's


efforts to build is -- stable, secure and more prosperous Iraq. I


welcome the Secretary of State's statement, and are particularly


welcomed the news of Mosul's liberation after three years. It is


important to defeat Daesh's violent ideology. I would like to pay


tribute to the Iraqi security forces and to the people of Mosul, who has


shown remarkable courage in the face of Daesh's continued oppression. I


would like to also pay particular tribute to the role of the UK


Government in its important work to provide critical aid and emergency


support. The UK's continued role here in the coming days and weeks,


and the secured -- significant funding commitments announced by the


Secretary of State, will save lives and help rebuild Mosul. And I


welcome them. This commitment also represents the important role UK aid


plays not only in standing alongside the people of Iraq, but also in


contributing to long-term peace and stability. I would like now to ask


the Secretary of State a series of questions about her announcement.


First, it is clear that although there is cause for real celebration


in the liberalisation of Mosul, Amnesty International have


identified countless human rights violations on all sides. Both by


Daesh and possibly by the Iraqi forces. These include the use of


civilians as human shields by Daesh fighters, and violation against


children's rights. Amnesty have called for a thorough investigation


of all human rights violations, and possible war crimes carried out


through the liberalisation of Mosul. While the UN human rights chief has


called for a strong culture of accountability now that the city has


been liberated, that the Secretary of State support these calls, and


can she tell us how we can help? Secondly, Mr Speaker, while I


welcome the UK Government's aid response, the false displacement of


numerous refugees in and around Mosul as a result of the past two


years of Daesh occupation requires widespread action, not only on the


building but also on the resettlement of all those displaced.


When can the Government update us on how we can help those who have been


displaced? I would like to end by saying I thank the Secretary of


State again, and I welcome the statement to the House. I thank the


honourable lady for her generous comments and her support with


regards to what has now been achieved in Mosul in particular, and


I agreed that we should all of this moment pay tribute to all the forces


involved in this but also the people who have suffered content --


considerably at the hands of Daesh. The honourable lady's right to point


to the report today, to Amnesty's report, alleging that Iraqi forces


and the human rights violations and concerns. And of course I think it


is important to stress that the security forces and the Coalition


have made every effort during efforts aspect operations to protect


civilians. There is no doubt that now that we are hearing from -- of


alleged violations, quite rightly the state to be thoroughly


investigated, and those found responsible must be held to account.


We also welcome the previous statement and encourage reporting on


the outcome is to follow. The honourable lady raised the issue of


displacement of people. Hundreds of thousands of people have been


affected by what has happened in Mosul and Iraq more broadly. The


focus now has to be on the resettlement, and the reunification


of the country as a whole. The honourable lady will have heard me


speak briefly of the efforts on stabilisation, and that has to be


the focus right now. And UK aid, my department in particular, are


working with my honourable friend, the Secretary of State for defence,


and others across Government and the international community, yes, to


provide support on UN stabilisation efforts in Iraq, securing liberated


areas, securing areas of explosives and making them habitable over


again, but importantly providing the basics, putting in water, power,


clinics and schools, and ensuring that since we know that since 2015


1.8 million people have been displaced in Iraq, and have returned


to their homes were possible, that we focus on the resettlement and the


stabilisation and how we can bring back the prosperity and


stabilisation back to Mosul and the outlying areas in Iraq as well.


Mosul was home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the region,


but religious minorities suffered dreadfully at the heart -- at the


hands of IS. What can DFID do to ensure that such my sorrow that


minorities are able to return to the place of their origins? -- to ensure


that minorities are able to return. I thank the honourable lady for


raising this issue. We now what has happened in the past, particularly


for Christian communities and others, has been a pollen, and we


are now focused on, yes, stabilisation, but ensuring that


Iraq as a whole can be rebuilt on the unified. -- has been abhorrent.


So that all communities can feel they can contribute to a new Iraq,


posted the conflict. We very much welcome the military defeat of DFID


-- Daesh. But in order for the victory to be complete, it is


imperative to address the humanitarian needs of the people in


the city and the surrounding region. Amnesty International have described


the horrors that the people in Mosul have witnessed, and the disregard


for human life by all parties in this conflict. Entire families have


been wiped out. The people of Mosul defends -- deserve to know there


will be justice in reparation, so the harrowing impact of this


operation is fully addressed. UK Government must finally learn the


lessons from Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. It cannot be allowed to


happen in Mosul as it has done in many places before, but the cost and


impact of UK military action towards the relief and reconstruction


efforts to follow. How is the Government working with civil


society on the ground to alleviate the suffering in refugee camps,


which lacks sufficient food, water and electricity to survive the


scorching desert heat 's? And brother Government support


specifically the creation of an independent Commission, as


recommended by Amnesty International, to investigate the


killings by civilians -- the killings of civilians by all sides


in this conflict, as well as air strikes carried out by the UK? I


would like to say again the comments I made to the honourable lady


earlier with regards to the Amnesty International report. Yet read the


comments I made up of the violations that may have taken place, and the


need to have investigations. It is right and proper that all attention


is given to them, and that the -- and that people are brought to


justice. But I think we must also recognise there have been horrific


attacks across the whole of Iraq, because of pointless ideology of --


the poisonous ideology of Daesh. The conduct of Daesh on the atrocities


that have taken place but slightly unforgivable and they will sky


generations to come. -- are totally unforgivable. When many people have


worked to liberate Mosul, in particular Coalition forces and the


Iraqi security forces, our priority is absolutely through UK aid to


ensure that we continue in the humanitarian support that we provide


to those who have been displaced, to support the stabilisation efforts,


and of course that is the focus of much of the British Government, but


all our partners internationally, including the UN, and we will


continue to stand up for those who have been displaced, and importantly


no work to bring peace and stability to Iraq. -- and importantly no work.


I welcome the tone and the extra spot these people in Mosul. With the


experience of others to be followed in Mosul, detectives of Daesh would


be that every public place will be be be trapped with minds and it will


take many years to clear that. Well she committed the Government to do


all she can to help with the technical matter of removing


explosives. It is not the scorching heat that we worry about today, it


is the co-author of the Mosul winter we worry about coming in 34 months'


time, in which Tammy need to find decent accommodation. My honourable


friend is right and I referred in my statement to the fact that we will


spend a great deal of time and resources in rebuilding Mosul but


also Iraq as a hole through the stabilisation approach that we will


put forward. But there is no doubt in terms of the fact that we will


have to invest to reclaim land, the mine huge phrase of the country and


then we announced a substantial commitment to our de-mining assets


in countries that have been unstable through conflict. It is also


registered a that as we move into the latter part of the year that the


weather conditions will change, they will become harsher and we were all


within the international committee have to step up our efforts and


focus our resources on those that will be in need during the harsh


winter that will follow. We will need to rebuild put houses in and


build infrastructure sooner rather than later. I welcome the Secretary


of State's statement and the additional humanitarian assistance


that she has announced and what she has said about the mining. Many


people in Mosul when they return will be deeply traumatised what will


the Government be doing to ensure the mental health care is supported


when they do return? I thank the honourable gentleman for his


question. He is right you think about the trauma of the


psychological trauma, physical trauma as well of course in


recovering and rebuilding after what has happened across Iraq and in


Mosul in particular. I spoke about the fact we will need to


rehabilitate the country at every single level and the destruction


side, schools, but also health centres as well and working with our


colleagues and counterparts internationally within the health


community as well, to ensure the medical assistance and support and


expertise of those that can provide the help to those people that will


need the kind of support we have just touched on is absolutely vital.


The people in the area that wish to return to Mosul have been


traumatised as we heard from many of the many people speaking to day. The


ones who stayed in the area want to go home, but there are very few


homes to go home too. Could my honourable friend explain what we


are doing in this country to help the infrastructure and put a roof


over people's heads, but is she also encouraging other countries to


support the people of the area at the same time? I thank my honourable


friend for her question and she is right to point to the immediate need


that is required for the people, the dispose people, over 1.8 million


people who have returned to their homes and we are working with the


Iraqi Government on stabilisation and also in areas where the U and


stability programme is working. We are working in conjunction with them


to provide the necessary and important infrastructure, power


networks, schools, but also homes because of the level of destruction


that has taken place, which is incomprehensible to us here. The


vast swathes of land and homes that were deliberately destroyed by Daesh


it is our response by to work with our partners to rebuild and rehouse


the many millions who have been displaced. I very much welcome the


Secretary of State's statement. Tens of thousands of children have been


without education in Mosul for many years so it is good you news that


750 schools have reopened, but what work is being done to help schools


be able to tackle the very particular sensitive challenge of


helping older children, teenagers and young adults to plug the gap,


the significant gap in their education and prevent a lost


generation? My honourable friend is right to speak about the lost


generation and this is an issue the whole region in terms of Syria,


Iraq, the level of displacement we have seen of children has been


horrific, and the number of children that have lost their education, been


out of school for several years because of the level of conflict


that has taken place, she will know that the United Kingdom is an


enormous supporter, big funder of the education cannot wait programme


which suckers on this on areas of conflict and on host communities as


well. Jordan and Lebanon in one example in the Syrian region where


we are providing resources to bring a double shift system of education.


Mentioning all the children, it is important but through the funding


and the partners that we work with that they are providing education


and they are. But it is more than education but also technical and


vocational training opportunities through the funding that we are


giving to those governments in particular. A competition amongst


others in colleagues in cream suits! Obviously a man of taste! Can the


Government has previously acknowledged that the cutting of the


food coupon in the Syrian refugee camps light to the mass exodus


thereafter. Acknowledging the proud track record in human tearing aid,


will the honourable friend make it clear to the house that the


international community must step up to the plate when it comes to the


funding of any temporary arrangements with regards to the


displaced people and we've learned those lessons? My honourable friend


is right to raise this issue and one of the things in terms of lessons


learned and being learned is about the increment a share in the lot of


the programming of those in crisis and its humanitarian situations when


it comes to food provision, water and other essentials as well. We


have through the wake taking place many lessons have been learned and


organisations, partner organisations on the ground delivering services


and provisions are working collectively together in a way in


which she refers to in 2013 they were not working together to bring


the vital aid and food distribution that needed it. Can I congratulate


the Secretary of State for what I thought was a very measured and


comprehensive statement on the situation. I have a friend in


Baghdad who was an MP in Mosul. She was also the Culture Secretary. And


so, for her, the devastation of a historically very important city


will have been pretty awful. I'm glad to say that the Secretary of


State is focusing on the humanitarian needs right away


because as honourable members have said, the dramatisation,


particularly of children in the area needs to be looked at right away.


Can I just mention, you talked about the importance of peace. We all want


to see peace in the region, I congratulate the Prime Minister of


Iraq for hopefully getting rid of Daesh from a Mosul. But then, in


Kurdistan, which is in the bottom part of the country -- an important


part, would you agree to is important that the Parliament of


Kurdistan, which has not met for a radio, should meet as soon as


possible? I thank the honourable lady for her remarks and her


thoughtful observations as well in terms of how we need to work


together to bring peace and stability to Iraq, but also to the


region. This is not one thing that one country can do on it so and this


is where the international community can provide guidance, support and


assistance and in particular help with getting the democracy


functioning again, which would be the ultimate symbol of beating Daesh


and the poisonous ideology that they have been propagating across the


region. She is right to highlight the fact that stabilisation, peace


and democracy in the functioning democracy should return again. This


is of course a long-term objective, one that we know will be difficult


because of the level of conflict and instability, but also the level of


destruction and displacement that we had seen. Our focus is the immediate


focus and that is putting people first, children first and rebuilding


the country in the best way that we can through the international


coalition. I do not want the honourable gentleman to feel left


out! Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I have proudly stood on the


manifesto in all of my elections of supporting the international aid and


many criticise that, but would honourable lady agree with me that


it is not just morally right that we can invest in the country of Iraq


because the situation with Daesh in Mosul, that was through the


residents being worried about divisions in the Baghdad Government


and it is investment through this country that we make sure that we


can prevent this happens again. I thank my honourable friend for his


question. Again, for we stating the importance of UK aid and our


commitment to the world's poorest. I think through the work we have been


undertaking through humanitarian support, urgent support which has


been there for a number of years now, but looking ahead to the


stabilisation that we will work to achieve, collectively within the


international development community, we can see UK agent just make a


difference of the people but also bring peace and stability in a way


we would all expect our aid budget but our influence globally through


our aid Brigid to bring to a country such as Iraq. Following the comments


of the Scottish Nationalists spokesman, is not the difference


between the British and coalition forces and Daesh is we go out of our


way to minimise civilian casualties and temperament is exactly the


moment. One of our colleagues is being threatened for her favourite


in her action against Daesh to we not need to send out from a message


in this house that he was out right to take the decisions we did, to


take military actions against Daesh one of those in Iraq and in Syria?


The honourable gentleman is absolutely right that we not only


did the right thing but we will continue to do the right thing,


standing up to these poisonous ideologies and the conduct of these


awful groups around the world. But also the fighters, the people who


fought Daesh as well, and he is right in his comments. Sexual


violence is one of the consistent horrors of war both conventional and


unconventional, it is a deliberate act, a recognisable but repugnant


tactic to shatter the cohesion of people as well as being grotesque


examples of individual human rights abuses. Will the Secretary of State


assures macro that she will look at how DFID will mitigate this vile


form of violence and support the fragile and damaged communities?


Moreover, will she say what how we can deter the oppressors to using


this form of violence in future violence? He mentions the abhorrent


sexual violence against women, girls and particularly the use Ely


community as well. We have called up for those and given any voice to


those being subject to attacks because of Daesh I think in areas of


conflict in particular, it is women and girls who suffer through such


atrocious acts of violence and atrocities and we will continue to


stand up for them through working with our partners, the United


Nations, but also other partners and I think importantly, to answer this


question on what else we will do, we will follow through the prosecutions


of those that are responsible for this, we will hold them to account.


I visited the outskirts of Mosul last October during the conflict and


met counterterrorism personnel. I also visited six camps of refugees


and IDP 's Saudi huge humanitarian operation which I was very impressed


by. I also noted on the radio this morning the deputy commander of


coalition forces said that everything had been done to protect


citizens, but he went on to describe amnesty's report as naive and


reckless. This is in the week that the Saudi Arabia arms sale report


was... Can I say, we are interested in the context of the Amnesty


report, but there is in no need for a verbatim with vegetation of the


contents. Progress has been laminated least slow, but much more


widely, not just that of the gentleman. I'm sure the honourable


gentleman is reaching his end. We need a new democratic settlement in


the province. What is her department doing, and what is our ambassador


doing to make sure we include minorities in that settlement?


The Coalition forces have made an effort -- every effort to protect


civilians, but we're working on stabilisation with all partners to


support and rebuild Mosul. I pay tribute to the Iraqi security forces


and indeed the British Armed Forces for their work. Could the Secretary


of State say what is the situation with another humanitarian threat to


the people of Mosul, which is the Mosul Dam which is an incredibly


dangerous condition and threatens the city of Mosul, being upstream


from it? It is a situation where we are working to put all of it in in


terms of the support that is required in that particular area. We


will continue to do that, and it is an ongoing situation so we are


obviously being very active in the support we can give. Last November I


raised a point of the thousands of women and children who were being


held in slavery by Daesh in Mosul. I asked the Government if they would


seek to provide specialist psychological care once the


liberalisation of Mosul had been complete. Could the Minister tell


me, never Daesh have been driven from the city, what plans the


Government have in place to deal with the specific psychological and


physical needs and the winds of one of the most wickedly abused


communities on this planet? -- the wounds. I refer to the comment I


made earlier on about the support we are providing. Health in terms of


medical but also mental and psychological support, it is


essential after the abhorrent nature of this conflict. Whilst welcoming


the resources the Government are making available for the relief of


the suffering from the conflict, can she ensure that the international


community at no stage is going to lose focus on the politics of the


settlement among Mosul, make sure we are not going to have the continued


institutionalised marginalisation of the complex number of communities


around Mosul, and they all have a stake in the future. My friend is


right to speak about the political stabilisation, and inclusivity as


well in terms of the rebuilding that needs to happen. And we will


continue to work with the Prime Minister and the Government as well


in Iraq to ensure this happens. The tributes the Secretary of State have


made my right, and the ambition is commendable. But the question is how


is this going to be achieved? People talk facile me about learning the


lessons from Iraq, but is it not an example of the correct -- collective


failure to reach construct but culture that -- reconstruct that


culture that many Sunni families sought to seek Daesh as they were


dumped rather than the marauding killers they were? What role with


the UK Government play? We will play our part in every single way that is


necessary, because there are no easy solutions to rebuilding a country,


and also making a country of relational and functional again


after such an abhorrent and appalling conflict. So we will


continue to support the Iraqi Government, obviously in the


response that is required but also in that inclusivity, getting the


politics and security right and getting the stabilisation right.


Does my right honourable friend agree that reconstruction depends


crucially on removing the mines and booby traps? And is she satisfied


that there are adequate capacity there and enough money allocated to


deal with this task speedily, and is there any timetable? Well, again,


this is a vital area in terms of clearing the mines and the IUDs, and


the support we will provide, so first of all the British Government


has provided specific support, and we will be working through the


various funds in Government but also supporting the mine action service


as well on this, but this is not an easy task at all because of what has


happened. The level of destruction in Iraq has been atrocious, so yes,


I work is cut out but we will give all the necessary support to ensure


that mines are cleared and land is returned back to the use in needs to


receive. The liberalisation of Mosul is undoubtedly a very significant


step in the defeat of this evil terror. But does the Secretary of


State agree that it is just as important now that we make sure that


the rebuilding of communities and the deradicalisation of this


communities is just as important in that defeat? It is absolutely right,


deradicalisation has to be a future of the stabilisation approach, and


the rebuilding, but also bringing back together those communities that


have become so divided and fractions. Once again, Britain will


lead the way on this and provide all the necessary support to the Iraqi


Government in doing our bit to bring that stability and peace to the


country. The atrocities of Daesh have failed to deliver a so-called


caliphate. My right honourable friend rightly recognises the role


of the Iraqi forces, but can she also recognise the role of the


female fighters and share what work has been done to ensure their work


despite their voices heard during the construction? First of all, the


point of reconstruction has been a hard fought battle. All -- the


stabilisation will have to take place, but the focus has to be on


bringing together the minority groups of all communities that have


been divided through this atrocious conflict. May I join the right


honourable lady in paying tribute to our brave servicemen and women and


also welcomed the announcement in her statement and UK humanitarian


aid, but can I price on what specific funding will be offered to


women and girls who have been subject to the most unimaginable


sexual violence and heart -- hands of Daesh? We will be providing


humanitarian support required, but also, four to 6000 vulnerable and


displaced people, many women and girls, -- 40 6000. They will also


receive support from the money we are announcing today. -- 40 6000.


You accrue the liberalisation of Mosul is a vindication for both


sides of this House, to give our allies the support they needed, but


which in their agree that one of the most vital things is getting them


back to work, and most -- what specific work for her department be


doing to bring Mosul's economy back to life?


Are great opportunity now is in rebuilding the country, putting


infrastructure in place, but also working collectively with many of


our party -- partners but also the companies that will do -- go in


there. That is a major feature of the stabilisation and rebuilding


work that DFID is leading on, with our colleagues across Government but


also working it's nationally with our counterparts. Point of order.


ICQ guide is to find out whether you have had any notice from the


Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on an appendix statement on


the HMRC building programme. His department had to play MIDI over its


decision to move over 1000 jobs from my constituents is to Edinburgh,


despite the fact there was a report damning the future building


programme just before the election, and as things stand, questions are


being made about inappropriate use of funds during powder, until we


have those answers, the public and my constituents can not have


confidence in this Parliament and its processes. I thank the


honourable lady for her point of order. In short I have received no


indication from the Secretary of State for work and pensions of an


intention to come to this -- the House to make an oral statement, I


think something has been announced either in the form of a written


statement or some media communication, but something out


with what I would call oral discourse. That said, the honourable


lady in her relatively short time in the House has become an adroit


deployer of the various mechanisms available to her to pursue the


interests of her constituents. There are some days to go before the House


rises for the summer recess, and if she judges there is an urgency


attached to this matter, I'm sure she will have records to the


appropriate mechanism and I will look out for it. What's more, I


rather imagine the honourable lady will be in her seat, they picked up


and down from it, and business questions tomorrow. -- and leaping


up and down. Speaker-macro, many people including myself will be


disappointed to read in today's paper that the Prime Minister has


postponed the publication of a report that she ordered, to audit


and examine how people of different backgrounds are treated by public


services as part of her mission to tackle burning injustices. The


reason for this delay is record -- reportedly because it is explosive


and pretty bad. Given the genuine and growing concern of this issue,


is it in order for the Prime Minister to postpone publication


because she does not like the findings, and it would look bad for


her Government? And is there a way Parliament can have sight of this


report that the Prime Minister is trying to hide? The short answer to


the honourable lady is that nothing disorderly has taken place. The


timing of Government statements and indeed the release of Government


reports are matters for Government ministers rather than for the chair.


If however there is a completed report, and the honourable lady and


others are keen to know its contents and are not care -- labour is -- I'm


not clear that is no compelling reason it should not be published


sooner rather than later, it is open to the honourable lady before summer


recess to cajole or entice an appropriate Minister to come to the


House. I cannot commit that that will happen, but I have this keen


sense that the honourable lady will be returning to the issue, and


probably seeking some sort of adjudication from me in the days


ahead. Point of order, Debbie Abrahams. Parred during Prime


Minister's Questions, the first secretary claimed that people with


mental health conditions are more likely to be supported by personal


independence payment than by disability living allowance. The


mental health charity mind has made it clear that 55% of people with


mental health conditions transferring from DLA have no award


or a reduced award. I would be grateful if you could advise me on


how we can have the record corrected.


I think it is fair to say that the honourable lady has found her own


salvation. In that she has put her fought on the record in


characteristically robust but also, thankfully, pithy form. -- her


thought. And it will now form part of the official report. And I am


well aware, and I would be failing in my duty if I were not well aware,


but the honourable lady has very strong views on this matter. And


that those mad -- views differ markedly from those of the first


Secretary of State. I think it is fair to say this is probably a


matter for debate, but we should leave it there, albeit only for


today. If there are no further points of order, we come now to the


general debate on the ground full tower fire inquiry. -- Grenfell


Tower fire inquiry. I am looking to the first Secretary of State. I


begin by expressing my deepest sympathy to all those who lost


family members and other loved ones in this terrible tragedy, their


suffering's beyond imagining. Our thoughts also go out to those who


lost their homes and possessions. Since that terrible event on the


14th of June, one month ago, we have all been deeply affected by this


unprecedented tragedy, and words feel inadequate. I would like to pay


tribute to the men and women of our emergency services, many of whom


risked life and limb in their efforts to tackle the fire, and


showed extraordinary courage in their determination to save lives,


and also equally importantly to the many volunteers and charities who


have given their time and much, much more to help the bereaved and those


who have lost their homes. They return to the purpose of the debate.


The chair of the Grenfell Tower inquiry is currently consulting over


the scope of the inquiry's terms of reference. To this debate -- this


debate provides an opportunity for Parliament to provide its views


about an inquiry before these terms are set. It is most important the


chair listens to the views of those most affected by the tragedy, and


takes account of those views when considering the scope of his


enquiries' terms of reference. But I am sure some autumn will want to


reflect on the views expressed in this House today, and of course we


should all be conscious that the survivors of the terrible tragedy


will also be listening to what is said in this House today. And


grateful to my honourable friend forgiving way so early on, but does


he agree that it is important to have an interim report, because if


there are recommendations which affect crucial health issues with


high-rise blocks, then that needs to be attended to as soon as possible.


My honourable friend is correct and he may be aware that there is an


intention to produce an interim report as soon as possible because I


am conscious that one of the great wishes of many of the survivors and


the groups representing them is of a quicker resolution as possible and


in answer to as many as the questions as possible. I thank the


first trip to forgiving way. On the scope of the report, I'm sure there


will be many reports through the debate and I do not want to widen it


too far, but can he assures macro that the scope will look at private


blocks and not just be confined to social housing, because in my


experience as a city centre MP, it is often more difficult for


residents to have their voice heard when you have opaque ownership and


managing agents who are not responsive to residents in private


blocks rather than the social box? The honourable lady makes a good


point. I cannot guarantee what the terms of reference would be because


that is a matter for Sir Martin, but one of the purposes of this debate


is for views like that precisely to be expressed on the issue of private


blocks, I am happy to assure her and the house that the testing regime


for the safety of blocks does extend to private blocks as well. Would you


say what has happened to the independent task force by his


colleague, if it has not yet been convened, if we do not know the


members are what they are doing, would he reconsider sending in


Commissioners, particularly given what we heard this morning that the


person that task of force are reporting to, who despite being a


councillor for 11 years has not been inside a tower block despite being a


canned net years for five years has not been seen fit to go to any of


the tower blocks in her borough? I can reassure the honourable


gentleman that the task force will be reporting to my honourable friend


the Secretary of State and not to Kensington Council, so I hope that


provides him with reassurances. It is an independent body reporting to


the Secretary of State. Could the Secretary of State clarify for us


that the costs struck back task force has any authority whatsoever


or is it advisory? It is an advisory not an executive panel reporting to


the Secretary of State which I think is the proper way to proceed. In his


statement announcing the Inquirer, the Prime Minister that's can I make


some progress's? We're saying the task force has no authority and the


authority remains with the council, so that is a distinction between the


task force powers and the powers that would be available to a


Commissioner if a commission was appointed? The task force will be


overseeing what the council does, but as I have said to his honourable


friends, it will be reporting to the secretary of state who can then


decide the appropriate way to recede, so it is independent of the


council, it is not reporting to the council and it will oversee what the


council is doing. The Prime Minister identified the immediate priority


when she announced the inquiry. Establishing the facts of what


happened at Grenfell Tower in order to take the necessary action to


prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. In Carrie will fill


that and report in two phases with an interim report being published as


soon as possible. Beyond that, it is important that all the wider lessons


from this catastrophe and the inspections of other buildings


around the country that followed it are identified and learnt. The


Samaritan has said, and I quote, I shall make it clear that I want to


consider a broad range of evidence including on the role of relevant


public authorities and contractors to help me answer the important


questions. I give way to the honourable lady. I'm grateful to the


Housing minister on answering my written question. I find it


extraordinary there is no central management or any records kept of


housing contracts within the housing department. There is no situation


where there is no accountability and trams currency. And the degree to


which housing contracts are then contacted to other private


providers. In view of this, with the Government advise whether there are


plans to revisit this? There are a large range of issues on which the


inquiry may well wish to make augmentation to the Government and


the Honourable lady has put that thought on the records now and as I


have said previously as Sir Martin will wish to take note of the views


expressed during this debate. I am grateful to my honourable friend. On


the wider point, he will appreciate that many of the survivors suffered


from carbon monoxide poisoning. This is known as the silent killer and


will he ensure that among the other lessons learned the planned and


proposed review of carbon monoxide alarms does actually go ahead in


October of this year? My honourable friend makes an extremely good point


of the wider point about the range of lessons that need to be learned


from this terrible tragedy and has he will know, there is an expert


panel that will be helping the inquiry that will have a range of


Cesc skills and expertise in areas and he has given rise to an


important issue which is not just Government but the inquiry itself


will want to look at. As the inquiry... I am brittle to the


Minister for giving way. He is right that no stone should be left


unturned in in covering the truth behind the horror that was the


Grenfell Tower fire, but when we talk about wider lessons and action


in the meantime, can I ask this question? Birmingham has 231 tower


blocks, the City Council has rightly decided that it will retrofit


sprinklers in all of those blocks. That will cost ?31 million and the


council has suffered ?700 million of cuts to their budget. Will the


Government unequivocally commit to funding all necessary safety


measures pending the outcome of the inquiry? The safety measures that


are recommended by the Fire Service, the honourable friend of Secretary


of State of communities has said will be met by the Government, so


those are the necessary measures that the Fire Service recommends all


stop the inquiry is designed to ascertain the causes of the


tragedy... For clarity, I believe that the Minister has dismayed a


very important statement. Is he saying that the necessary safety


measures to protect what are 10,000 households in 231 blocks will be


funded by the Government? For clarity, let me look at, let me go


through this, that if the Fire Service recommends that something


needs to be done for safety reasons, and if the local authorities will be


the first Pope 's call to pay for that I'm sure they will want to


follow the Fire Service's recommendation in this, if the local


authority can show it cannot afford it, then central Government will


step in. That is a matter for local authorities and the Fire Service in


the first instance which is clearly be sensible way to proceed. The


inquiry will clearly need to examine all other than circumstances. I


think there have been very generous in giving way. I really need to make


some progress. The inquiry will need to examine all relevant


circumstances leading up to is an surrounding the fire at Grenfell


Tower. It spread to the whole of the building and its effect on


residents. That means looking at circumstances well beyond the design


and construction and modification of the building itself will stop it


will mean looking at the relevant public authorities and contractors


and the broader implications of the fire for the adequacy and


enforcement of regulations. It means looking at the handling of concerns


previously expressed by local residents. Sir Martin is highly


respected. Can I make some progress? And countries there are many who


want to contribute and I have been extremely generous in giving way. I


think the House will benefit from progress. Sir Martin is highly


respected and as a recently retired Court of Appeal judge he brings many


years of judicial experience. Sir Martin and the Government agree that


for this inquiry, consulting on the terms of reference is an important


way of involving those affected by the tragedy. It is clearly right


that those affected by this terrible tragedy and others with an interest


I given the opportunity to shape the terms of reference which will in


turn give direction and focus to the inquiry. Sir Martin has started a


consultation process and is keen to give as many people as possible the


chance to contribute to the consultation. You will consider all


suggestions given to him when drawing up the terms of reference.


He will then make a recommendation to the PM who is responsible for


setting out the terms of reference. I will give way again, but I wish to


finish this section if I may one. Sir Martin said, and I will quote


him at lines because I think this is at the heart of many of the issues


that have arisen. He said I am determined to establish the causes


of the tragedy and ensure the appropriate lessons are learned. To


do this, the inquiry will need to look at all relevant


circumstances... To understand the causes and prevent the tragedy


happening again. To produce a report as quickly as possible with clear


recommendations for action, I will listen to people and consider a


broad range of evidence including on the role as contractors in order to


help me answer this. I want to hear from people directly affected by the


fire and others involved to listen to their views on the shape of the


inquiry and the questions we should be seeking to answer. This is


clearly the right approach to take. Sir Martin has set a deadline of


Friday the 28th of July extended by two weeks from the inquiry's


original deadline following discussions between Sir Martin and


survivors of the fire and other residents of the estate which made


clear that those affected need more time to respond to the consultation.


This extension will allow the inquiry to begin its work in August.


I'm sure we all agree the sooner the inquiry can begin, the sooner we


will have the important conclusions of its report. It's important to


point out that the others will be able to feed into the enquiries are


being choir read by writing to the inquiry are e-mailing the contact


address provided on the inquiry website. The terms of reference can


be revised 20 cars of the inquiry which is likely that it reflects on


what it has learned adding interim report stage before it starts phase


two of its work. I thank my honourable friend for giving way and


I am heartened to hear about the inclusive CV of this inquiry. The


book safety must be at the forefront, so would my honourable


friend 's comment on whether he might look at historically and


confirm whether the inquiry will look into the effectiveness of the


fire regulations and the enforcement regime that was enforced in 2005 and


six respectively. My honourable friend raises a valid and important


point. I can assure that the expert panel which covers a range of


expertise is already looking at art and that will feed into the inquiry.


The honourable gentleman wishes me to give way. Following on from the


question from his honourable friend, the building regulations should be


chief review because this country it is usually ten years, it now 11. It


was recommended in 2013 the regulation should be reviewed, the


Government has been saying since 2011 and after that they would be


done by this year. We do not have too wait for a Republican choir two


save the building regulations should be reviewed. When can we expect the


working party to be re-called to show the work is underway now? I


appreciated the honourable gentleman has huge experience and expertise in


this particular area and I can assure him that one of the things


the expert panel is to ring is seeing if there is still advise


needed to be given urgently to the Secretary of State which needs to be


acted on, so that is The Secretary of State is right


there should be this consultation to try to help rebuild trust of the


local community in the inquiry, but should there not be an advisory


panel that has genuine community members, that are diverse and are


from the community, to advise the panel?


The right honourable gentleman may know that there is already, if you


like, something similar to what he is suggested, a group called


Grenfell United, which indeed my right honourable friend the


Secretary of State and the Minister met last night for a long and


extensive meeting, so I can assure him that the views of those most


affected are obviously being fed into Sir Martin directly, but they


are also having direct communication with the Secretary of State as well.


In terms of the potential appointment of panel members, the


priority at this stage is for consultation on the terms of


reference, which once agreed will allow the inquiry to start work. The


chair will also want to consider what expert assistance might be


required, including the process of consultation. But I want to ensure


the House that Government work is already in hand to address issues


highlighted by this terrible tragedy. DC LG on the Cabinet Office


are working together across the piece, and the wider building safety


probe -- programme which are no honourable members on all sides have


been concerned about. They have ripped all councils and housing


associations, calling for checks to social -- social housing. Have


written to. -- they have written to. A request a Government department --


departments and on's men's bodies, to submit samples for testing from


priority building... I thank him for giving way. I would like to ask the


first secretary if he is aware of a lot of the advice has been quite


contradictory. We appeared initially to be informed that certain types of


cladding had to be removed, that then seemed to be changed to a


position where certain types could be safe in fire systems, we also had


a lack of clarity about whether that testing regime was compulsory, and


now we are informed that actually the department was responding to


landlords' concerns. If the Secretary of State aware that this


kind of flip-flopping is to -- causing a lot of confusion and


concern especially to tenants. The expert panel are continuing to


provide the advice. The advice has been consistently followed by the


department, because clearly they have the expertise to do so. So they


may well discover more, and decide that the first is to change, but it


is all done on the basis of experts in fire safety who are independent


of Government... I'm grateful to the first secretary for giving way. As


somebody who grew up in a two bed council block of flats, the


traditional advice was always stay put and await rescue. I wonder how


many souls perished following the traditional advice that tenants


took, and is that advice changing? That is clearly an issue that may


well be addressed by Sir Martin and the public inquiry, that is clearly


the appropriate form for that sort of investigation to be made. Labour


I am grateful to the first secretary. Even as we speak, before


this inquiry has begun, there continue to be new tower blocks


being constricted and developed in my constituency and around the


country. Can the Secretary of State say what you advice has been given


to planning authorities and those who monitor construction standards,


and to the building industry? The expert panel has published new


advice which was published last week, with a memorandum of


understanding about what should be done about new blocks, so that issue


has very directly been addressed over the past month. Returning to


the issues... One more. I thank him for giving way. In relation to the


points that have just been raised, I have constituents, people with


disabilities who live on high flaws in tower blocks who have raised


grave concerns about what they should do in the event of emergency.


-- high floors. Particularly with regard to whether they should be


taking lifts. Would advice of the state should be part of the extended


enquiries? The smack of this nature. That are already rules in place --


obviously there are rules that are in place.


The fire safety advisers are looking at what happened and what should


happen in future, but it will be the local fire safety authorities that


give that advice. And I'm sure all of them will have been looking very


carefully at the advice they have been giving, particularly to people


wheelchairs who clearly will be very understandably concerned at whether


they are getting the right safety advice, so I would advise her to


talk to her local fire safety officials. If I can return to the


actions that have been taken over the past month, the Cabinet Office


has established a cross Government working group, with a technical


subgroup, to ensure that all technical advice is understood and


is being properly applied. Government is ensuring full


engagement and alignment with activity in the devolved


administrations, and -- as I am conscious they will be particularly


concerned about this as well. DCLG has formed an expert advisory panel


made up of fire safety and building experts, to advise Government on any


immediate action required to ensure buildings are safe, and the Cabinet


Office is working with DCLG's expert panel and others to establish a


remediation plan and next steps towards the review of building


regulations that several members have asked for. All of this is


underway outside the inquiry's timetable, so its completion will


not be dependent on completion of the inquiry's report. I note some of


those affected by this terrible event are concerned that an inquest


would be more appropriate than an inquiry, and that the inquiry might


delay ratification of those who died. I can reassure them there will


be an inquest -- identification. The coroner is already investigating the


deaths. Once the identification of each of the deceased has been


completed, I understand the coroner will open inquest into each


individual death and then adjourn proceedings pending the outcome of


other investigations including the inquiry. The coroner will consider


the inquiry's recommendations to determine whether to resume inquest.


Therefore this process will not delay the formal identification of


victims. I should also reassure those who want a criminal


investigation into this terrible tragedy that this is in hand. The


Metropolitan Police announced the investigation on the 16th of June,


it is one of the largest and most complexes investigations ever


undertaken by the Metropolitan Police, with around 250 specialist


investigators currently engaged. I hope are honourable members will be


reassured by the clear statements about the investigation by the


Metropolitan Police. Detective Superintendent Philip McCormack said


that the investigation would identify and investigate any


criminal offence, and given the deaths of so many people, we are


considering manslaughter as well as criminal offences and breaches of


legislation and read -- regulations. A point reinforced by Sir Martin


Hewitt who said, the investigation we are conducting is a criminal


investigation, that quite obviously starting from the potential that


there is something that effectively amounts to the manslaughter of those


people. It is clear this will be a vigorous, detailed investigation.


The police are determined that if wrongdoing has occurred, the


perpetrators will be brought to justice. The Grenfell Tower


inquiry's is of utmost importance. The Government will provide it with


all the resources it needs to carry out its work thoroughly and rapidly.


We must learn the lessons from this tragedy to ensure nothing like it


happens again. Try the question is that this House has considered the


Grenfell Tower fire inquiry. -- the question is. Today is four weeks to


the days since the Grenfell Tower fire, the worst fire and greatest


loss of life in this country at least since the London Blitz. 158


families have lost their homes, many others have lost loved ones. And all


struggling with the horror and the trauma of losing family members, of


their own escape and being left with absolutely nothing. And this is the


time when they feel -- should feel they can look to their council and


their Government for help, as well as to the overwhelming solidarity


and support of their local community. But so many do not, and


so many feel they simply cannot trust those in authority to listen


to them, and to do what they promise. So this is a very strong


message to ministers, to Kensington and Chelsea Council, and to the


chair of the Prime Minister's public inquiry. Madam Deputy Speaker, today


is one week on from the Prime Minister's deadline for everyone


affected to be found a home nearby, yet just four of the 158 families


from Grenfell Tower have moved into a fresh home, and this is only


temporary. Today is 24 days on from the start of the Government's


testing programme when the Prime Minister said, we can test over 100


buildings a day, yet only 224 tests have been done, almost all on one


type of filler in one type of cladding. Today is four years and


four months on since two official coroner 's' reports following other


fatal tower block fires, yet the Government has still failed to act


on their recommendations. And today is almost three weeks since the


Prime Minister said, and I quote, "We simply have not given enough


attention to social housing," and yet, in her speech yesterday crying


out for any ideas for a domestic policy programme, there was no


mention of housing, and no mention of the words "Social housing." This


is the measure of the Government's response to the Grenfell Tower


tragedy. Too slow to act, too slow to grasp the gravity and the


complexity of the problems, one step off the pace at every stage. So let


me spell out the First Minister and his colleagues. This is the pledge


that this party makes, as the official opposition, above all to


the survivors and the relatives of the families from Grenfell Tower. We


will not rest until all those who need help and a new home have it. We


will not rest until all those culpable have been brought fully to


account. And we will not rest until all measures needed to make sure


this can never, ever happen again are fully in place. Now, we welcome


the Prime Minister's public inquiry, we welcome what the First Minister


said this afternoon about this debate, helping to inform the terms


of reference and the way the inquiry will begin ducted. -- will be


conducted. We will make a submission to the Prime Minister on the terms


of reference, and we will recommend an approach like the MacPherson


inquiry, with panel members, appointed with a deep experience in


community relations, to help overcome this serious gulf in trust


that many in the North Kensington community feel. Let me turn to


housing and help the survivors. The pledges the Government have made to


the families and survivors promised no strings financial assistance,


open access to trauma counselling, guaranteed school places, no legal


action on immigration status or subletting, and we housing, are all


welcome and all important. But there is still a big gap between what


ministers are saying to us in this House, and what the residents and


community in North Kensington are saying is happening to them. On


housing, how is it, one week after the Prime Minister's deadline, that


only four families have moved into a fresh home, and 13 others have been


offered somewhere they feel they can say yes to? Who is finding, checking


and offering this temporary accommodation? Who is providing


reassurance needed for the families? Who is in charge?


I thank him for giving way. These people, the rehousing as of the


upmost importance. But to politicise about the figures and to argue, I


don't know where he is getting the figures from, but I was led to


believe that 139 people had received offers of accommodation and many


families have agreed not yet to engage because they are not quite


ready. So he cannot force them to either. I'm not sure be this


statistics are coming from and whether all this scaremongering


about statistics is helping solve the actual problem this government


is getting on with doing. The speech was back in figure three. If I am


wrong but only four of these families after one month have moved


into a permanent home and are no longer in hotels, you can get up and


correct me, but he is not. It is precisely the decisions and policies


of those in power that the Grenfell Tower residents once challenged. And


it is precisely the questions of policy, of ideology, of


responsibility in government that lie at the heart of the deep changes


needed to fix the housing crisis in this country and her own Prime


Minister has recognised that. 159 families have been offered, as


wearable friend said brightly. Some of those have said that they don't


wish yet to make the move into the housing they have been offered.


Everyone will recognise the needs to meet those wishes. I can assure him


and the House that 159 of the families identified have been


offered more than one accommodation. That commitment has been met. Thinks


the Secretary of State might want to set the record entirely straight


when he winds up this debate. I take him at his word for no. Last week,


we were told there were 158 families who lost homes in the Grenfell


Tower, 139 had been offered accommodation by the Prime


Minister's deadline. Last week, only three had moved out. This week,


today, for weeks on, four have moved out and only a further 13 have


actually been given offers that they feel they can accept. Is a huge gap


between what ministers are seeing here and what residents are saying


they are. That is the problem and the question to the secretary and


the Secretary of State, who is sorting this out, who is in charge,


who is responsible for this continuing failure to provide the


homes for people to start again that they need? I'm sure he would accept


a hotel room is now home and temporary accommodation is no place


to try to rebuild shattered life. So the top and the urgent priority must


be for ministers to sign the permanent homes that are needed. Now


we welcome the 68 homes in Kells internal role that now will be


available as social housing for the residents of Grenfell Tower. -- in


Kensington raw. The rest could be done straightforwardly by doing a


deal with local housing associations to make new houses available, by


leasing or buying vacant private properties in the area, and by


funding the council to build or acquire new homes needed. It make


even force Kensington and Chelsea to use some of that reported ?274


million in reserves to take this urgent priority action. I give way.


Most of the residents who have been decanted are in budget hotels, I


know because I've visited a number who were unceremoniously dumped in


my borough without money or change of clothes and have been there four


weeks. None of those people either because they want to be there.


They're there because they haven't been made appropriate offers. Does


he agree with me that we should be offering decent homes to people who


have suffered extraordinary trauma? I entirely agree with my honourable


friend. He speaks from a very special authority as a neighbouring


MP who has spent a great deal of the last four weeks in the North


Kensington community working alongside our honourable friend, the


new member for Kensington, to try to support and give voice to the


concerns of residents and survivors. Let me move on to safety testing. It


is totally unacceptable, for weeks on from the Grenfell Tower fire,


that ministers still don't know and can't see how many of the country's


other tower blocks are unsafe. And the government's testing programme


is too slow, it is too narrow, it is to confuse. This is a testing


programme in chaos. Only 224 tests done when an estimated 530 tower


blocks have the same cladding. A total of 4000 tower blocks across


the country, this means 24 days after the start of this testing


programme, which we were told it could test 100 buildings a day, we


find tests have been done on only half of the highest risk blocks and


fewer than one in 20 of the total number of tower blocks around the


country. Last week, the Secretary of State said there was no backlog in


testing and tests would be processed within a matter of hours. Given the


continuing shortfall in the number of high-rise buildings that have


been subjected testing, but he sure my absolute bafflement that the


government doesn't appear to know where any of this material actually


is? Yes, I share your bafflement. I share it entirely. I also hear


stories of councils and housing associations that want to test their


buildings may not have the same type of cladding and they simply cannot


get the tests. And I noticed again the first secretary's speech and his


update to this House was entirely free of any facts or figures that


can update us on the chaos of this testing programme. I give way. My


honourable friend will be aware that in my constituency the council has


done the testing and as a result has evacuated over 300 people from


estates. Camden Council is spending its own money trying to make sure


these buildings are fit for purpose before residents are placed in it


again. Does he agree that the government should be giving


financial support to Camden Council and other councils after cutting


their budget for years on end? The short answer is yes. The longer


answer is that I pay tribute to the tough decision that Camden Council


had to make in those circumstances. My fear is that other housing


associations and other councils, landlords of high-rise blocks around


the country, will hold back or potentially cut corners because they


know they cannot afford to do the works required either to remove and


replace cladding or to make the inside is safe and fully fire safety


compliant. And they will do so only because they cannot get a straight


answer from this government, a clear commitment, to make sure this


essential work is done. This leaves hundreds of thousands of residents


in tower blocks around the country uncertain still whether or not their


blocks are safe. I say to the ministers opposite, I hope they stay


for this debate. We will hear from a number of colleagues around the


country, concerns about the testing system that it leaves landlords and


residents confused, it is a testing system that is not meeting the needs


of those residents or of those landlords. And we know from the


Lakanal House fire that cladding is not the whole problem. Only one


component of one type of cladding has been tested until very recently.


No tests on cladding systems, on intuition materials, the interaction


between cladding and installation, or on the installation and fire


breaks between force. I say to the Secretary of State, housing


associations across the country cannot get their type of cladding


tested so they cannot reassure the residents there tower blocks are


safe. Councils like Salford have stopped stripping of cladding from


high-rise flats because they have no guidance from government on what to


replace it with. I thank him for giving way. I want to make a comment


on that point in relation to a council I would like to commend for


the speed at which they were able to remove cladding. Also, my concerned


that with the amount of real cladding that might take place


across the country that we don't see those who might be producing the


cladding jacking up pricing and making it even more expensive to


replace. She is right. Oxford council is in the dark. It simply


does not know what the guidance and advice from government will be. If


you take the cladding off, what do they replace it with that they can


be certain as safe? The first secretary made great play of


independent experts quite rightly in his speech. The panel is there to


advise them on urgent lessons and action necessary. This is very


welcome. I hope this panel can help the government get back on track. I


hope it can deal with some of the following concerns which ministers


will hear from colleagues from other parts of the country. What advice


will the government gives to landlords and what reassurance to


residents, if cladding systems past the second round of tests when they


may have failed the narrow first test? If cladding feels, must it be


taken of tower blocks in all circumstances? And will the


government cover cost of taking it down and replacing it? When will


councils and housing associations be able to get other cladding or


intuition tested? How will the government make sure all internal


fire safety works are now being done inside tower blocks meet the highest


safety standards? And will the government wanted an immediate


review into the approved inspectors responsible for building control


checks, who hires them, who pays them, who approves the


qualifications, starting with all those responsible for signing off


the systems being failed by the government's tests? For weeks on,


ministers what must widen their testing programme, reassure all


high-rise tenants that their buildings are safe or commit to fund


the urgent work necessary to make them safe. The clearest warnings


that there were failures came more than format used ago following the


inquest into fatal tower block fires at Lakanal House and in another


circumstance. There were formal letters to ministers with


recommendations to improve fire safety in high-rise buildings.


Some of the recommendations were simply rejected, like making


internal cable supports fire resistant or on-site information


about a tower block available for firefighters arriving to fight a


police. Ministers said they would act on others but simply have not.


What with retrofitting sprinkler systems, the government passed


responsibility on to landlords. One minister even said in 2014, we


believe it is the responsibility of the fire industry rather than


government. And with overhauling building regulations, the government


promised a review, but this did not happen. And now the Housing Minister


has just told me, this work will now need to be informed by any


recommendations the independent enquiry into Grenfell Tower fire


makes. Can I finish this point? Rather than waiting months or years


longer to start this work, ministers must act now, start installing


sprinkler systems in the highest risk high-rise blocks and start the


overhaul of building regulations which can incorporate any findings


from the fire investigations or from the public enquiry. I give way.


Thank you. Does my right honourable friend, has he picked up the same


rumour that I've picked up on the review of the building regulations


that went on in CLT and I've heard it was Paul is because there were


not the civil servants able to lead on that work


because they were taken off that work because of Brexit and work that


needed to be done to look at Brexit? If that is true, how many other


pieces of work that are essential and urgent and safety-related are on


pause in government right now? There is an even greater question


over a leadership which I will come onto any minute. Finally, I want to


return it to the fundamental issues as the PM described them, that were


raised by the Grenfell Tower fire. When a country is decent and as


well-off as ours fails to provide something as basic as a safe home


for all its citizens, then things must change. Too serious to start


with, first on regulation. -- two areas. Surely all sides of the House


will agree on this, all markets, all consumers, all organisations require


regulation. The require regulation to get quality, safety, ensuring


safe practice, yet this is not the mindset of the current Government.


Never again can we have a Government minister challenged on fire safety


measures as one was after the Camberwell fire permit seeing it is


not the Government's responsibility and justifying this with the


Government's approach to regulations won in to add role. If the PM and


her secretary are at serious about change, they should start by


confirming that this approach has ended with the Cameron George


Osborne era Conservative Government. You are making a very important


point. When I was a junior business man, I was asked by people from


number ten in the Cabinet office whether we should get rid of the


fire safety regulations with respect to girls and ladies nightdresses,


related to furniture, I said no, we didn't get rid of them, nor should


we. He is right. We have to change the culture. I am grateful for that


unexpected support from the Liberal Democrat benches. He makes a very


important, specific point that supports the general argument I am


making this afternoon. On social housing, for decades after the


Second World War, there was a national cross-party consensus about


the value of social housing to help meet the housing needs and


families. There was a recognition families. There was a recognition


that in this country since World War II there has only been one year in


which we have built more than 200,000 homes without the public


sector during at least a third of them. Yet this is also the first


Government since World War II that is providing no funding to help


build new social rented housing and this Government has also ended all


funding through the home thinking unity agency programme for decent


homes, which is the investment to bring a social housing up to


scratch. If the first secretary and the Prime Minister were serious


about social housing, they would live cap on councils borrowing to


build and maintain their homes, restore essential Government


investment to help build a new social housing, guarantee first dibs


on new homes for local people and strengthen the hand of councils to


get better deals from big developers for their residents. Finally, Madam


Deputy Speaker, the Prime Minister wants us to contribute rather than


just criticise. You have to ask, has she asked her cabinet to contribute?


What does the Secretary of State have to contribute to solving the


country's housing crisis, to doing more on the social housing? To


reversing the plunging rate of home ownership in this country,


especially for young people? To giving 11 million private


basic consumer rights? Or preventing basic consumer rights? Or preventing


the rapidly rising level of rough sleeping homelessness on our


streets? Where is the plan? Where is the hope, the leadership? If the


Prime Minister wants a domestic policy programme, if she wants to


find common cause and make fundamental changes to Government


policy, then we stand ready to contribute and we offer our Labour


housing manifesto, published last month, as a starter. If the


Government wants our support, for a plan to tackle the country's housing


crisis, it must raise its sites. If ministers want every support, for


their recovery programme host Grenfell, they must raise their


game. Madam Deputy Speaker, can I start by saying that I do agree with


the honourable gentleman Phil Wentworth on one aspect, which is


that I think he is right to say this was an accident which should not


have happened in a country like ours. I do think he is also right to


argue for a national and clear approach that doesn't just


concentrate on one issue but look at all the issues involved. I thought


he uncharacteristically was not prepared to accept, or at least it


seems so, that over the years on both sides of the Has winning


Government, we have made mistakes in this area and I think if you thought


back to 2005 and 2006 when the enforcement regime was weakened and


the building regulations changed, I think he might just think, was that


really tackling the problem on the issue of building houses over the


previous Labour Government having a deplorable record. I don't think


that he can just be holier than thou in his debate in the way that I


thought he was tempted to do. I would like to start by just paying


tribute to the local community, for all it has done at the Westway


Sports Centre. People were generous, warm-hearted, they put their arms


around the victim's families. Our thoughts, correctly, I with the


victims and families. I would like to pay tribute to the communities of


the Westway and Latimer Road who have come out of this very strongly


indeed. It is time that fires which claim lives in high-rise buildings


was a thing of the past. Just an experience from my own constituency,


in February 2005 there was a fire in Stevenage in Harrow court, at


high-rise flat blocks, 17 stories, two firemen lost their lives,


including my constituent Geoff including my constituent Geoff


Warren. And also a member of the public as well. Jeff came from a


family which is very much committed to public service. He was extremely


brave in the fire and saved lives. His loss was felt in my constituency


and by his family, friends and the and by his family, friends and the


Fire Service in Hertfordshire and Warren Whiteley. This incident led


to a fire investigation by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue


Service, a very good one. It has had a lot of experience in dealing with


hazardous materials, it fought the Bruntsfield fire as well as been


done. It is generally a highly respected Fire and Rescue Service.


They made recommendations, one of them was that the UK Fire Service


should explore options for high-rise buildings to have provision of


sprinklers. I felt at the time that this was an important matter. We had


a Westminster Hall debate about Hertfordshire firefighter's safety.


The then Fire Mr Siddique Khan met Jeff's father and fire safety


experts to discuss the case for sprinklers to be retrofitted to all


high-rise blocks and experts in sprinklers went to be meeting to.


This hasn't happened, but Robert Warren, he still feels this is an


important way of helping to ensure that there is fire safety in such


blocks. He contacted me recently to say he hoped this could be back on


the agenda. After 2007, the rules were changed for new buildings, over


30 metres high. Which I required now to be fitted with sprinkler systems.


Some local authorities have gone ahead and retrofitted to some of


their blocks. As was mentioned by the honourable gentleman for


Wentworth. Coroners, on two occasions, have recommended


retrofitting sprinklers. It has not been the general rule. We do need a


something that is clear. The British something that is clear. The


automatic fire sprinkler Association automatic fire sprinkler Association


estimates that the cost of fitting a system in Grenfell Tower would have


been around ?200,000. We need to establish the truth of what happened


in Grenfell Tower and make sure it doesn't happen again. I do hope this


issue of the retrofitting of sprinkler systems can be firmly and


urgently considered, because I do think that it is something which


might be long overdue. In terms of the investigations which have been


ordered, there is a police ordered, there is a


investigation which will look at investigation which will look at


criminal wrongdoing, but I think it is good there is a judicial public


enquiry announced by the Prime Minister and the two types of


investigation have different purposes. The public enquiry


investigates an issue about serious investigates an issue about serious


public concern, scrutinising decisions and events. The enquiries


act of 2005 ensures that witnesses can be compelled and documents


brought forward without any difficulties, something which didn't


happen in other forms of enquiry. They are different to criminal


investigations. The parallel criminal investigation into the fire


by the Metropolitan Police will be informed by the public enquiry. If,


for example, fax and recommendations are made in the public enquiry, if


during the course of the investigation of the enquiry comes


across criminal activity, it will obviously pass that, that is its


duty, to the police. There has been some discussion nationally about the


choice of the chair. I would just say this, people come to our country


to have their legal issues resolved, from all over the world. They come


here because we have independent minded judges who don't mind telling


the Government where it gets off and when it's wrong. We have judges of


the highest quality. There is a transparent system which people


trust. That is why the English legal system has been copied all over the


world and why people respected so highly. Our common law system is


excellent. The choice of the chair for this public enquiry was a senior


judge. I think if you look at something like Hillsborough, were a


senior judge presided, nobody would argue that these judges are not


capable of dealing with a complex case and getting right to the heart


of the issues. The Lord Chancellor asked the Lord Chief Justice or a


recommendation of a judge he would be best suited to the task of


leading a public enquiry of this sort, and he recommended Sir Martin


Moore-Bick. Sir Martin is one of the most respected judges, with


extensive experience of trying complex cases, including the


investigation of disasters. He was vice president of the civil division


of the Court of Appeal, one other very most senior judges, until he


retired in December. He will get to the heart of the issue. Members in


all parts of the Houses are determined there will be justice for


the victims of this tragedy and for their families. I believe the


combination of a judge let enquiry and a police investigation will


achieve this. I think you can judge how well a judge is going to judge


an enquiry about how speedily he gets on with the matter in hand. In


this case, Sir Martin has shown by immediately consulting, he opens the


consultation on the 5th of July, to establish the terms of reference,


but seeking a wide range of views. That bodes very well for the


enquiry. He wants to hear from those directly affected by the fire. He is


having a series of meetings to listen to the families. It is


welcome at the chair has been so open to ideas. He said he wants to


establish the terms of reference as soon as possible, so the enquiry can


begin the process of making sure we know what happened and how to stop


it happening again. I am a strong supporter of the judge let enquiry.


I hope it will be possible to have a relatively early interim report


which will deal with some of these key issues, like sprinkler systems


and cladding, so we have that sort of national clear approach which the


honourable gentleman opposite mentioned. I am a strong supporter


of the enquiry, but I would like to see sprinklers strongly on


agenda. Thank you. The Scottish agenda. Thank you. The Scottish


National Party welcomes the Government announcement of a full


public enquiry into this terrible tragedy. We are very clear as others


have already said no still needs to be left unturned in order to


ascertain not just the immediate cause of the fire but the wider


causes of what happened and what went wrong and to ensure appropriate


lessons are learned and to get justice for those affected. Our


thoughts and sympathies are very much with those who were affected by


this terrible tragedy, it goes without saying we pay tribute to the


bravery and professionalism of the first responders and the emergency


services. I want to address the scope and the


nature of the enquiry. I'm glad to see that the days of enquiries were


establishment whitewashes are over. I don't think our society could put


up with such delays again. We must always be mindful that the history


of enquiries in this country has seen many examples of justice being


delayed or denied altogether. It seems to me this most often happens


when those affected by death in disaster come from amongst the ranks


of those with the least in society. I am thinking of innocent Liverpool


football fans unlawfully killed and then wrongfully blamed as the cause


of their own deaths. Bloody Sunday was also different from the Grenfell


Tower enquiry. A Scottish journalist recently brought some words to my


attention. A man told the BBC, we are not per people, when


working-class people, where leaseholders, homeowners, we pay


tax, we pay council tax, we make the economy turned whilst the rich put


us in hazardous positions. He said, we have been neglected from the get


go and we are neglected still. These words may be uncomfortable for some


to hear, but they cannot and should not be ignored. They come from a


survivor. Underlying this tragedy, I believe there is a stark contrast in


our society between those who have wealth, power and influence, and


those who do not. It seems to me at least unthinkable that those with


power, wealth and influence would have been condemned to live in


accommodation which seems to have been such a death trap. So, I say


that this tragedy raises very real questions about the inequalities in


our society and the inadequate provision of social housing in


cities such as London. And there is a very real issue as to whether the


enquiry is going to be of adequate school not just to address immediate


causes of fire and its immediate spread, but systemic issues


underlying the tragedy. So the terms of reference are vital and it is


vital the participants have confidence in the chair and it is


vital that all participants have adequate funding to ensure


representation. Looking at the terms of reference, the Stephen Lawrence


enquiry is often considered as an exemplar of what an enquiry should


do. They are, the terms of reference were simply matters arising from the


death of Stephen Lawrence. In this case, survivors are concerned about


comments from a judge which suggested the enquiry will be


restricted to looking at issues regarding how the fire started,


rather than general issues. We were told last week that the government


expect the enquiry to be as broad an enquiry as possible. What is not


clear to me is whether this House will be able to scrutinise or have


any input into the final framing of those terms of reference and in my


view away should be found to enable this to happen. Because the Grenfell


fire raises issues which concern all of the public across the UK and our


constituents. I have a constituent who has written to me concerned


about the extent of the death toll. The composition seems to include


those who are sometimes forgotten in our society. Members of the public


are concerned that the fact seems to be a refurbishment budget for this


block was spent with an emphasis on cladding that was pleasing to the


eye rather than fire safe and a suggestion that not enough was spent


on fire safety measures. And the public are concerned about the


adequacy of the response to the fire. People have said, where was


the publicly funded infrastructure dealing with relief? Where was the


plan for the aftermath of this? So we need to make sure the terms of


reference of the enquiry encompass these matters, whilst also making


sure the interim report deals with the immediate fire safety issues. We


should never forget that the decades of failure to investigate properly


what happened at Hillsborough began with the controversial decision by


the coroner in the inquest to close off certain questions from proper


investigation. So I believe we must be very careful here not to close


off certain questions arising from how this fire came about from a


proper investigation. Turning to the chair, the problems with the child


abuse enquiry shall as it is vital to have a chair that has the


confidence of those affected. Concerns of residents must be


respected and listen to. If there is doubt surrounding public confidence,


that cannot be ignored because it will undermine the efficacy of the


enquiry. As the honourable member for... I shall give way. This is a


judge who has dealt with the most complex matters, disasters. For


somebody of that sort of ability, how can she say that is not the


right sort of person to run a judicial enquiry. It is not a


decision for me, I am bringing to the attention of the House the


concerns of members of the public. What is required here is a properly


diverse expert panel to sit along the enquiry judge to advise him on a


variety of issues. I respectfully suggest doubts about


the ability of the judge may be allayed. Whether the benches


opposite like it or not, it is absolutely vital that the people


affected by this disaster have confidence in the ability of the


enquiry to bring about a just result. I will continue to develop


my point. All I and others are asking is that the Minister gives


serious consideration to the demand that in addition to the judge they


should be an expert panel which is properly diverse and is of the


proper expertise to advise on issues regarding housing need and fire and


safety construction. Will she give way? In our country,


people take cases against the government to the courts the whole


time. The judges are very keen to do cases properly. The kickback the


government on numerous times. Is she really saying that this is one of


the most senior judges in our country who is not going to be able


to do an independent job of the highest quality? That is not what I


have said. This is not a litigation, this is a public enquiry. All I am


saying is the government have accepted the requires to be a panel


of advisers. I am making a simple point. The panel of advisers should


be of suitable expertise and diversity to inspire confidence.


Another thing required to ensure justice is done is to make sure that


not only victims but also tenants groups are given public funding for


independent and separate legal representation, sufficient to enable


them to have a voice equal to local government and private management


companies. This is a simple matter of human rights and equality of


arms. When I asked the Prime Minister about this on 22 June, she


said that although the way the enquiry is conducted as a matter for


the chair, she said that legal representation will be funded by the


government and she was not going to set any limits regarding bodies or


individuals for whom funding would be available. Therefore, I welcome


what she said. Although the question of funding and proper representation


is a matter of the enquiry, it can only work well within the


constraints imposed on it by the Treasury. And if the tenants groups


are not represented in this enquiry, then I fear justice will not be seen


to be done. Finally, before I see something about devolved


administrations, I want to turn to the question of recommendations of


the enquiry being properly implemented. I would suggest it is


vital that this House is encouraged to make sure that the


recommendations are implemented promptly because important


recommendations are not always implemented promptly. We have


already heard about the recommendations after the Lakanal


House fire. After a tower block fire in Irvine in 1999, select committee


of this House recommended that all cladding on high-rise dwellings


should be noncombustible. Subsequent to devolution, that report was taken


seriously by Scottish housing authorities and building regulations


in Scotland were duly amended in 2005. All new domestic high-rise


buildings are fitted with noncombustible cladding or a


cladding system that meets stringent fire tests. Since 2005, they are


fitted with sprinklers. The same recommendation be seen as optional


south of the border and it appears now that has had tragic


consequences. It is vital that this House finds a way to make sure that


the enquiries recommendations are properly implemented. Briefly,... I


join the tributes which have been paid to the victims and first


responders. There are many people in Scotland who still live in tower


blocks. As well as the reassurances she has provided, they nevertheless


will be looking to the recommendations that come from this


report. Does she agree there will be lessons to be learned across the UK?


It is important assurances are provided to people who continue to


live in tower blocks? I entirely agree with my honourable friend. I


was pleased that the city of Edinburgh Council had all elected


representatives in to tell us what steps they were taking to ensure


high-rise blocks were safe. Scottish building standards are devolved, as


I have indicated. The Scottish Government has already set up a


ministerial building group to ensure our buildings are up to scratch and


to make sure the Fire and Rescue Service are satisfied with the


standards in local buildings. I'm pleased to say that all 32 local


authorities in Scotland have been able to confirm that none of the


high-rise domestic properties that they own have used the type of


cladding will understanding was used on Grenfell Tower. The Scottish


Government has not been complacent about this and the Scottish Fire and


Rescue Service will continue to carry out additional operational


assurance visits to high-rise buildings. The Scottish Government


will continue to monitor the situation in Scotland, gathering


information from Scottish local authorities and kicking a safety


first approach to this issue, whilst we await information into this fire


in London. It is vital that the way in which this enquiry is setup, the


framing of the terms of reference, the way in which the expert panel


will advise the chair, is chosen, is made up and funding is made


available to all relevant participants. Those things are vital


for justice to be seen to be done and we cannot cut corners on any of


them. There is widespread concern across the United Kingdom about the


whole circumstances surrounding this fire. The public and all of our


constituents, most particularly the people local to this fire, need to


be satisfied that justice is both done and also seem to be done. The


House struggles on occasions like this to get the tone of the debate


right. When members of this place a walk on 14 June, we would all have


been horrified by what we witnessed. And how on earth those residents are


coping with the tragedy I just don't know. I pay an immediate tribute to


the local member of Parliament who has not been here for very long, but


in no time at all has done her very best to local residents.


Congratulations to her and I think the House will come together at


least on that point. There are no words adequate to


describe our feelings on this horror. It started on the fourth


residents were asleep. Within half residents were asleep. Within half


an hour, it was a towering Inferno. And to turn on the TV screens in the


morning and see what happens, it was truly shocking. This was just a


month ago. This House has a huge responsibility in this debate, how


we deal with this matter. I think the tone must be more direct. --


must be moderate. Recently there was an article written by Nick Ross, I


do not know him personally, but he appears on TV as a commentator. He


said no one has the right to monopoly on anger or grief. For 15


years, I have been campaigning to update building regulations in


England to improve fire safety and to have sprinklers fitted routinely


to cancel and other social housing. -- to councils. I cannot recall a


single Government minister or opposition frontbencher who ever


campaigned with us. Three times I have addressed the local Government


Association, pointing out how the risks are disproportionate in a


subsidised housing, it is the... They did absolutely nothing. I come


to my honourable friend the Minister, ministers are mostly here


today and gone tomorrow, but I hope my honourable friend will be around


for a little time. Few would be claimed to be expert in the breeze.


Except for those who know what all, because the art writ by ideology.


Most ministers do listen to their advisers. If there is any group


whose actions allied the catastrophe to happen it was these advisers.


Ministers took the advice. Finally, Mr Ross said in his article,


sprinklers are not invincible, they cannot function if the water supply


fails. But and this is the truth that makes me so angry, no one ever


dies from fire when a home is protected by automatic sprinklers.


That is why in the United States they are spending or installing 40


million a year. Let's not be persuaded that the risk is only in


high-rise towers, there are three to 400 fire deaths a year and most


victims live in a low-rise properties. We need sprinklers in


all social housing, care homes and multi-occupation premises including


schools. Let's not forget our hospitals. There is a terrible


languor after Grenfell, instead of trading political insults we must


put it to good use. Madam Deputy Speaker, we politicians are often


criticised. We take the blame for most things that happen. We have


been criticised for not acting, as far as this particular issue is


concerned. That cannot be said of the All Party Parliamentary Fire


Safety Rescue Group. I am delighted that there are a number of


members present in the House who are very active members of the group,


unfortunately we lost 12 members in the last election. It has been going


for a very long time. I don't know whether colleagues are aware, but we


find out this morning that one newly elected Scottish Conservative member


was a former firefighter and no doubt he will bring his own


expertise. Most of us aren't experts, we have depended since 1986


on two marvellous secretaries, first of Douglas Smith and then in 2013


Ronnie King took over. Time after time, as the honourable member whose


advice chairman of the group said earlier, we ask ministers to look at


the Lacko Nel recommendation about the retrofitting of sprinklers and


we ask for the building regulations to be reviewed after 11 years. My


honourable friend, the minister, who I think will be replying to the


debate, has already met members of the group. And this morning, it was


agreed, I put a number of points to my honourable friend the Minister,


which I hope he will consider. Without prejudice to the public


investigation, the all-party group investigation, the all-party group


wants to respond to the Secretary of State's invitation to submit


measures which can be put in place immediately to keep people safe. I


entirely accept the frustration of opposition members that something


needs to be done now and we don't needs to be done now and we don't


need to wait till the outcome of the public enquiry for that to happen. I


hope my honourable friend the Minister will reflect on that. One


such measure is to commence the long promised review of approved document


be to the building regulations forthwith and in particular to seek


an immediate reinstatement of the provisions as section 20 of the


London building acts in so far as they are required, it is crazy that


we no longer had those regulations. The Minister will face the test, he


will be given advice. Unless it is in the affirmative, I hope the


Minister will make his own decision and will agree with the all-party


Parliamentary group's recommendation. Thank you. My


honourable friend obviously understands these things better than


me. One thing that has really worried me about this tragedy, and I


question it, is if there were sprinklers inside the building and


the building went on fire outside it, would people have survived,


despite the fact that the building outside was a flame? That worries


me. I don't know whether there is an answer. It seems to me, they might


have done. He makes an interesting point. People do not lose their


lives when sprinklers are affected. The second thing,... Does my


honourable friend think, it speaks volumes that in 2007 we said every


building should have a sprinkler system. I will come to your point, I


also want the Minister tree here, it is not his department, it is crazy


that it isn't mandatory for all new school buildings to have sprinklers


fitted. This is something we have got to address as a matter of


urgency. Again, I hope the Minister, if he doesn't get the advice which I


certainly want him to be given, I hope he will make a decision and


recommended that all new school buildings have sprinklers fitted. I


am grateful for his comments with regard to sprinklers systems in


schools, but would he agree it is imperative that the regulations are


changed to cover student accommodation? As I understand it,


tower blocks above 30 metres will maybe fitted with sprinklers. But


height does not qualify for height does not qualify for


sprinklers. That cannot be right. I hope my friend would agree with me.


I certainly do agree. The Minister has heard what has been said, as I


understood every building over 30 metres must have sprinklers fitted.


If the honourable member is right and he was at that meeting this


morning, I hope at some stage when the Minister winds up, a note will


be passed to determine whether the honourable member is right. As far


as I understand, that cannot be the situation. The second point the


committee agreed without prejudice to the public enquiry or the police


criminal investigation, we want to support the recommendation of the


coroners that Southampton are at the leg arising from the Lakanel housing


block, whereby both coroners recommended in a letter to


Secretary of State that the Secretary of State that the


Department for Communities and Local Government encourages providers of


housing in high risk residential buildings containing multiple


domestic premises to consider the retrofitting of sprinklers. I hope


my honourable friend will deal with that. In a letter to the then see LG


Minister, which the committee wrote on the 1st of May 2014, we drew the


Minister's attention to Ronnie King's personal involvement with the


Lakanel house coroners inquest, whereby clarification was given from


the department that the current building regulations allowed the


composite panels under the external wall windows of such tower blocks


not to have any fire resistance. This is absolutely crazy. This


weakness in the regulations remains uncorrected today, despite the


spread of fire which resulted in the deaths of six people. Under the


current regulations, the external walls of tower blocks need only have


a classification... The House would not expect the Minister to be an


expert on all these matters. He has expert on all these matters. He has


got to take advice from somewhere. I hope he understands the frustration


from the all party Parliamentary fire safety committee's


recommendations being ignored. This fire should never have happened. It


should never have happened. If notice had been taken of the


recommendations that were made. As I come to draw my remarks to a


conclusion, Madam Deputy Speaker, the Home Office minister who is not


in this place at the moment, said that we might be looking to system


failure built up over many years, which we now how to address


urgently. Over many years and perhaps against a backdrop which


shows a reduced risk in terms of fire in terms of the number of


incidents and deaths may be as a system some complacency has crept


in. It certainly hasn't crept in as far as the all-party Parliamentary


group is concerned. I don't know anything about the judge who has


been appointed to lead the enquiry. I have heard of the Fire Brigade's


union have talked a lot about the cuts to services and regulation of


the fire safety. I hear you talking a lot about spring close. Would you


agree that those cannot have failed to have an impact and we have


happened on your watch? I am a bit disappointed about how many people


are not on your benches for this debate. It is absolutely crucial and


they should be here. Well, as far as the Fire Brigade's union is


concerned, I know the general secretary and I am meeting him


shortly to find out in further detail precisely what his criticisms


are. I can assure the honourable member at the all-party


Parliamentary fire safety group will raise any issues which the Fire


Brigade's union mentions to us. As far as attendance on these benches


are concerned, in time the honourable lady will have a view on


attendance in this House. Going back a long time, all the benches were


packed. I can only say that I regret that on this occasion, given that


the general public can see this on the Parliamentary Channel, it is


always disappointing when the chamber isn't packed. I am afraid


over recent years that has been the trend. I am grateful to the


honourable member. Have a further honourable member. Have a further


house to my entry in a register of interest. On the Fire Brigade union,


should they have participant status in the enquiry? The Minister will


have heard what the honourable lady has said. I cannot believe there


will not be very close involvement. I don't want to trip myself up if


there has already been a discussion on the matter. But I certainly can't


see why there can't be real participation in the enquiry,


responds will take that particular responds will take that particular


point up. Finally, Madam Deputy Speaker, if I say to my honourable


friend the Minister that these are three points I really wish to


highlight. Building regulations no longer include a requirement for one


hour fire resistance for outside walls, as was required under the


London building acts. That has got to be corrected. Firefighters were


horrified in the way this particular disaster took place. The second


point is the testing of cladding. It costs ?10,000 to five test a 30


metre clouded wall. Most testing is done on the desktop, which doesn't


take into account materials used underneath or between the cladding,


such as wood. I hope my honourable friend will look at that point.


Finally, the retrofitting of the past year in 100% of cases for


sprinklers have activated the have controlled or extinguish the fire. I


welcome the fact that there is to be a public enquiry and I say again to


my honourable friend the Minister, do please note not only listen to


the recommendations We have plenty of time for this


debate. And there are a lot of people who wish to take part. I


should also take the -- tell the House that I have notification of


several new members who would like to make their maiden speeches. I


would like to be able to manage without a formal time limit,


especially for the benefit of those making maiden speeches, it is better


not to have a time limit. We can manage this of people show restraint


and thought for fellow members and speak for around nine minutes. That


means calculate ten minutes and stop a bit early. It is amazing how


difficult people find arithmetic once the run their feet. Everyone


will have an opportunity to speak without a formal time limit. I know


I can rely on Mr Clive Betts to do this perfectly. Thank you. This is


the most appalling tragedy and I'm sure our hearts go out to everyone


who lost their lives. And everyone who has been traumatised by this


appalling event and are now homeless. The only good that can


come out of this is if we learn lessons from this quickly and make


sure it never happens again. I want to address the issue of funding. I


was worried by the first Secretary's conditions he put on the funding


that might be available. He said the government would fund any necessary


safety work that was deemed necessary by the local authority.


You then withdrew on that statement and said the government would fund


it were the local authority could not afford it. That is an important


condition. Will he explain precisely what that means, what the criteria


are which will lead to government funding and whether local


authorities will be asked to find themselves. We have to see this in


the context of a local authority finances as a whole. This work to


social housing will come out of the general revenue account. Funding for


social housing was cut by 60% in 2010. There is not a penny of


government money for either new social housing or four remedial work


in social housing in the current spending round. Local authorities


have been asked to find it all themselves. I thank him for giving


way. On that point, is it his understanding that any works pay for


at a local level will be paid for by tenants out of their rents? Does he


also agree that the maintenance budgets for local authority housing


have already been cut by 20% since 2010? Absolutely. That is the point


I was going to come onto. The housing revenue account of courses


funded for rent and in 2015 budget, the government decided rent would


not rise by CBI plus 1% but would fall by 1% each year. It is


estimated that will have a massive effect of many billions of pounds.


Of course, they can borrow money, councils can borrow money, but that


borrowing is capped by the government as well. So the


government caps the rents and the government caps borrowing. To local


authorities go to find the money to show they can afford to do this


work? All they can do is to cut other planned expenditure on the


maintenance of other social housing. Solving one problem will simply lead


to other problems unless government is prepared to find the money.


Simple as that. I hope the Minister will reflect seriously on this.


Local authorities should not be having to show they can either not


build a few social houses they were going to build and not going to cut


back on maintenance programmes to prove they can afford to provide


extra money to do the necessary work on tower blocks, but the government


will come forward and say that all necessary work approved by them for


extra work on tower blocks will be eligible for government money. That


will solve an awful lot of concerns and difficulties in this debate. We


simply have got to start viewing social housing differently. There is


a tendency in the last few years to see social housing is proposing for


poor people. And therefore anything will do for the people who live


there are. And I have to say to ministers that is a bit reflected by


the EPA to ski scheme which fortunately the government has now


made voluntary for social housing landlords. In other words, those who


can afford it should not be in social housing, I disagree, it is


therefore those who need it. Secondly, the proposal to have the


sale of high-value council assets. If council housing is good and


decent, it shouldn't be council housing any longer. That is wrong as


well. It seems to have been put on the back burner, this proposal, to


find the right to buy for housing association tenants. Were going to


have good quality social housing and it will remain as social housing for


those who need it. That is something else the government can do. I come


then to regulation. He is making a very good case. Can I add one more


point, which is to say that where social housing is going to be used


for tenants decanted in the case of Grenfell Tower or other examples,


other types of housing is going to be used, that needs to be in place


as well? Otherwise, we are again looking at a net loss of social


housing. I think he makes an extremely powerful point. Government


should be funding the replacement of social housing is well. In terms of


regulation, we need an immediate review of fire regulations. That has


been called for. I hope who has ever elected chair will take a lead with


the new members elected. At times, it was like drawing teeth, getting


ministers to agree to new regulations. I draw attention to the


20 13th select committee hearing when the fire adviser came to us and


was questioned very strongly with the Minister about the retrofitting


of sprinklers. The Minister then said no and one of the reasons was


that you could not have a new regulation unless two old


regulations were taken off the statutes. What a nonsensical


position. Regulations are either necessary or not. If regulations are


necessary to keep people safe, they should be implemented without having


to wait for two others to be cancelled. I am pleased my own


authority in Sheffield has decided to retrofit sprinklers to all its


tower blocks. Coming onto the issue of test for cladding, I know


colleagues have made this point, it shouldn't just be the cladding


tested in isolation, it has to be the insulation, fire stops, fire


doors and everything else about the fire safety systems in a tower


block. Sheffield has only found one instance where cladding has feel. If


Fire Service has said that because of everything else in that block


they believe the systems are safe for people to live there. I think


Sheffield Council has done very well. They have had meetings with


tenants. They have said if anyone wants to move temporarily, they can


do, they have put a 24 hour far what in the block, but in the end the


fire authority believes it is safe because of the cladding working with


the installation, the fire stops and everything else. Some ministers will


now look hopefully at extending the tests and encouraging local


authorities to extend the tests beyond cladding to the whole issue


of fire prevention in blocks. Finally, regarding Kensington and


Chelsea, will the Minister explained to us why it is a task force and not


commissioners? As a local list, commissioners should only be used in


an extreme situation. But this is an extreme failure. After the Ariana


Grande incident in Manchester, there was a first class response. What


does the member think of the response after this incident? The


government has admitted itself the response was not adequate. But why


not commissioners? The task force will report to the Secretary of


State but will not have executive powers. This is a recipe for another


disaster. When you have mixed lines of accountability and no one is sure


who is in power, that is exactly when things go wrong because no one


is sure who is responsible, everyone is into everyone else, and when


something happens everyone blames everyone else. Please learn lessons.


Can we have an explanation about why commissioners have not been put in


in this case? Now we have confusion rather than clarity. I would like to


assure the honourable gentleman that I am following that if he wins the


select committee chairmanship by one vote, that will have been mine.


You're very welcome to it. On a more serious note, before I begin, I


would like to declare an interest. As set out in the register of


members interests, I am a director of a subsidiary of Hampshire Fire


authority. It is created to help fund the gap by the shrinking grant


for the Fire and Rescue Service. The directors are not remunerated. On 6


April, a fire broke out in Southampton. I attended as chairman


of the Hampshire Fire authority as crews battled to bring the fire


under control. 100 people were arrested that night but it came at a


great cost. Two firefighters who entered the tower block died after


becoming tangled in falling electricity cables. They lost their


lives while trying to save others. Alan Bannon and Jim Shearer is


demonstrated the very best of emergency services and are very much


missed by everyone who knew them. That fire happened in 2010. The


inquest included in 2012. The coroner issued his letter in April


2013. In the letter, the coroner recommended that social housing


providers should be encouraged to consider the retrofitting of


sprinklers in all existing high-rise buildings in excess of 30 metres in


height. Particularly those identified by Fire And Rescue


Services as having complex designs that make firefighting more


hazardous and or more difficult. After the coroner made his


recommendations, Southampton City Council committee to retrofit


sprinklers in three high-rise tower blocks. However, as weeks and months


passed, there was no move to actually carry out the work. I have


to cancel over and over again and was always given assurances report


was about to be written or funds were being made available but


nothing actually happened. Months and years pass and then finally in


February 2015 Southampton City Council approve the Cabinet report


which said it will commit ?100 million of housing revenue money to


retrofit three blocks. Surely towers were the fire was, and two others,


one of which is in my constituency. Two and a half years after


allocating the funds, those sprinklers are still not installed.


Coincidentally, the Labour Cabinet member with responsibility for


housing in Southampton has assured me it is a coincidence, the is


Brinkley 's which were promised would be installed on some of the


most vulnerable blocks over two years ago will soon be fitted. Or at


least that's what I have been told. The Leader of the Opposition will be


visiting Southampton on Saturday. I hope that while he is there he will


ask the leader of the Labour-controlled council, who was


also the Labour candidate in the last general election, why he has


not acted on the corner's recommendations and carried out the


retrofit of sprinklers in the city's high-rise flats. I hope that on his


visit he will explain to the residents of those terrors why he


and his Shadow Chancellor has sought to politicise the tragedy of


silent when it comes to silent when it comes to


Labour-controlled Southampton failure to act on the corner's


recommendations despite promising those residents they would do so. Mr


Speaker, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am confident or more likely hopeful


that Southampton will, seven years after the terror fire, retrofit


sprinklers to our tower blocks. The reason for repainting these events


is not for political point scoring...


LAUGHTER They may laugh, that is what they


have done from the date this tragic event took place. I am not doing


this for political point scoring in the way that Labour have sought to


do so. I am doing it for a really important reason, when the inquiry


into the Grenfell tragedy has concluded and we know what happened,


how it happened, why it happened, the recommendations from that


inquiry must be accepted. The Government must act on those


recommendations. They must not allow it to drift for a year after year in


the way it has been allowed to do in a Southampton. In the years since


Shirley Towers, there have been dozens of fires in the Southampton's


tower blocks. Is it one of those had turned out like Grenfell or Shirley


Towers, there would be nowhere for the local authority to hide and they


would be no excuses. He might make a more convincing case if you didn't


see it all from one particular vantage point. He says action after


this inquiry, do you not agree action should have been taken before


and explain why Government ministers did not make recommendations in


relation to retrofitting sprinklers relation to retrofitting


after that, despite what the coroner after that, despite what the coroner


said in his letter? As I understand it, and as I said, it was a


recommendation people should encourage the use of sprinklers. The


difference with Southampton and the local committee were committed to


doing it and Southampton did not do it. There implies the difference. As


I said, if one of those fires in those dozens of fires that have


happened in tower blocks since Shirley Towers in Southampton had


turned out like Grenfell or Shirley Towers there would be nowhere to


hide. If the Government fails to act on the findings of the Grenfell


Tower inquiry, we will have nowhere to hide either and the public will


never forgive us. To make her maiden speech... Madam Deputy Speaker,


thank you for this opportunity to address the House and make my maiden


speech today. As a London MP, I am grateful for the chance to speak in


the debate about the tragedy of Grenfell Tower. It is an honour and


a privilege to be elected to represent Lewisham west and pains,


the area that I love. I was raised and went to primary school there,


and I went to secondary school in Penge. I am glad to call it home. If


anybody told me I would go on to become an MP for my area, I would


have laughed. Society never seem to have much aspiration for girls from


my school and we were all too often written off. But I am here and my


sister, the honourable member for Leeds West is here, so as my former


English teacher said during the general election campaign, my school


now has almost as many a long lie in this place as Eton.


LAUGHTER -- alum now. Our constituency is a


collection of the strong south-east London communities around Forest


Hills, Bellingham and signum within Lewisham. Since 2010, it has taken


in the bustle of Penge high Street, the suburban calm of lock ayes and


the splendour of Crystal Palace Park, including its legendary


dinosaurs. IMB 12 member to serve. I have a Lewisham Western Penge... I


feel privileged to be the first woman to represent my constituency,


99 years after it was created, the same year as the representation of


the people act and the first election in which women could vote.


My predecessor represented the constituency for 25 years and has


devoted more than 40 years of his life to public service. Both in this


House and an Lewisham Council. A lifelong resident of S E 23, Jim


stood up for our local services and good jobs and he represented his


constituents with conviction on national issues. He held a range of


positions both in Government and opposition. And used his position to


further causes that were important to him. Especially his love of


animals and their welfare, even his general election literature from


2015 included a picture of him shaking hands with a giant cat.


LAUGHTER Previously a bellwether seat, Jim


and those who helped run the local party have helped turn Lewisham


Western Penge into a strong Labour seat whilst never taking anything


for granted. It is in part thanks to them and their hard work but I am


able to stand here now as their representatives in Parliament. Jim


has been a good friend to me and my family. His support has been


immeasurable and I know he will be greatly missed in this place. Madam


Deputy Speaker, the enormous loss of life at Grenfell Tower and the


preventable tragedy of what happened there has cast a shadow over the


first few weeks of this Parliament. Hearing stories of the events that


night, it was hard to hold back tears, the unimaginable horror of a


mother throwing a baby from a tenth floor window still haunts me. The


inquiry must never happen quickly, transparently and with the full


inclusion of the victims. What seems clear to me is that what happened


there and in the aftermath is symptomatic of a system that is


broken, a system that neglects the poor and from the box, a system


where cost effectiveness seems to have been put before a health and


safety, and a system that I have come into this place to change.


Madam Deputy Speaker, around the time it Jim would have been making


his maiden speech, I was at secondary school in the


constituency. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, we had lessons in hearts,


class sizes of 35 and not enough books to go around. As the daughter


of two teachers, I knew that teachers were undervalued and


underpaid. My parents are here today and I am thankful for the values and


for the support they have given me. It was my experiences growing up


that made me want to stand up and fight to end inequality and to make


sure every child gets the best chance in life, no matter what their


wealth or background. I am saddened to say that all schools in my


constituency are facing funding cuts, and our wonderful boys


comprehensive Forest Hills School is ?1.3 million in deficit. I made a


promise to my constituents that I would fight hard for our schools and


our young people and that's exactly what I'm going to do. Madam Deputy


Speaker, and other issue I want to fight for in this place is defending


workplace rights. Before entering Parliament, I was an employment


rights lawyer for more than a decade, representing working people


day in day out. I know first-hand how many of our employment rights


come from Europe, such as paid holiday, limits on working time and


many of our discrimination laws. I will fight tooth and nail to fight


any compromise of those rights as we negotiate Britain's exit from the


EU. But we need to go further than that and create a secure workplace


and decent wages by banning few hours contracts and raising the


national minimum wage. I was at a food bank in my constituency on


Friday and it is an absolute travesty that people are having to


make a choice whether to feed their children or feed themselves. An


issue close to my heart is maternity discrimination. After the birth of


my son, I said to be business to provide pregnancy the and flexible


working advice to mums and families. I want to work to ensure all jobs


are flexible by default and that all parents can take parental leave


without fear of discrimination or of the loss of their job. I believe


that a first-rate education, excellent health care, decent


housing and proper employment rights are essential to the prosperity of


us all. Rather than condemn our constituents to a race to the


bottom, we must offer them hope and ensure that our country is able to


thrive, advance in progress whilst no one is left behind. Thank you


very much. Thank you. May I begin by congratulating the honourable lady


for an Lewisham West and Penge for such a powerful and articulate a


maiden speech. It is clear she will be a forceful and effective advocate


for her constituency, her sister can be proud, purse late-night


appearance can be proud and her constituents watching on TV can be


proud. I congratulate her. I wanted to say a few words today about the


public inquiry into this dreadful tragedy. At the risk of stating the


obvious, it is vitally important of course it is carried out with


absolute impartiality, without fear absolute impartiality, without fear


or favour and motivated by a dogged determination to get to the truth


for ever it may like and how convenient or inconvenient that may


be. It is precisely because of those fundamental principles that I think


Sir Martin Moore-Bick is the right man for the job, notwithstanding


some of the Commons that may have been made. Let me be clear, I don't


know Sir Martin, I have never met him. But I do know the Court of


Appeal where he served with great distinction and I have appeared


there as an advocate on more occasions than I care to remember. I


can say with my hand on my heart, it is the jewel of the British


constitution. There are some of the most brilliant brains in the country


perhaps more importantly, is allied perhaps more importantly, is allied


with absolute and ferocious independence. I am sorry to say


"aye" have lost in the Court of Appeal for more times than I have


one, but it is the most powerful tribute I can pay to the Court of


Appeal that I have left understanding the reasons and


acknowledging the fairness and integrity they have brought to the


process. That's why I want to address what appears to be a


troubling insinuation that might be being made, that as an educated man


with a title, that he is somehow in eligible. Let me be clear, in every


system of law you don't get to that position by being nice to be


Government. You get to that position were often than not by being a


nuisance, by holding the Government nuisance, by holding the Government


back when it overreaches itself and holding them fiercely to account.


The legal culture in this country is that the greatest accolade you can


pay to a judge is that he or she is fairer. The Court of Appeal has that


in spades, Sir Martin has that in spades. We owe it to the victims to


let him get on with the job. Thank you. Can I begin by paying tribute


to my honourable friend the member for Lewisham West and Penge. She


made an eloquent speech. She is clearly going to fill the shoes of


her predecessor very eloquently. He was one of the more outstanding


members on the backbenches here. I remember him for many reasons, not


all for his Parliamentary approach to debate. He was a forthright


advocate on behalf of his constituents. I can remember when he


was my weapon, I remember him with a great deal of affection then as


well. We finished on good terms. Madam Deputy Speaker, this is an


absolute tragedy. I want to associate myself with all the


comments made by people about the first responders and emergency


services to some of the offices of Kensington and Chelsea Council who


went above and beyond the call of duty to try and respond to the needs


of local people. That is sometimes overlooked. There were individuals


who did an enormous amount of work which we need to recognise. Of


course, the people who were affected by the tragedy.


This exposed a complete failure from government right the way through to


local government. It exposed that when local authorities reduced the


resources in terms of their manpower and the services they can provide to


a point where there are so thin that they cannot respond in these


circumstances then it is quite clear that we are going too far with


reductions in investment in what is needed to support local communities.


There is more to a council van just a posh town hall. It is what is in


it that really counts. And when prides itself on being able to give


a ?100 council tax rebate in the run-up to local elections then that


council leaves itself with few resources to respond in the


circumstances and it takes what has to be described as a minimalist


approach to backing up those services, and also prides itself


first and foremost on how little it spends, then it is no wonder that


you have no resilience when a tragedy like this happens. And one


of the things that we have to last the enquiry to look into is why it


was, because this is a tragedy that would have overwhelmed most if not


all local authorities, it was a huge demand on local resources that were


made, they would have needed the assistance of other local


authorities to step in and support them. So the question has to be, why


Windows offers of request were coming in in the first 24 hours did


Kensington and Chelsea Council not get back to respond to offers of


help? I know my local authority has not only been dealing with the


concerns that are coming from our local residents were living in tower


blocks and wanting to know that they are safe and having to use their


communications and housing officers and councillors to go and talk to


residents to reassure them to carry out the fire safety checks and


everything else, but at the same time they have also been providing


support to Kensington and Chelsea. It's quite clear that there was


something fundamentally wrong at the heart of Kensington and Chelsea in


the way they responded to those offers of help. Members of the


community spontaneously got themselves together and responded to


the needs of those local people. There are also some lessons we could


have learned along the way. The chair of the fire safety all-party


group has mentioned lessons could have been learnt. It is not just


Lakanal Rebecca Downie weren't lessons. There have been incidents


in other countries when exactly the same type of aluminium cladding has


caused a rapid spread of fire, one that took place in 2014 in Melbourne


in Australia. The photographs of this that or on the internet and


have been recorded in the media are almost identical to the fire that


took place at Grenfell Tower. What is surprising about this is when you


talk to experts in this field, fire safety officers and others, they


were aware of this fire and the knew the significance of this fire and


the lessons that should have been learned about this type of cladding


at that time. And what is remarkable is there doesn't seem to be any


knowledge of this coming from the government or any review of the


materials used for tower blocks at that time because other countries


did take action. They took steps to ban this type of cladding being used


on tower blocks. There are some questions that come from this. One


is this issue of sprinkler systems which I will come to. In the case of


the tower in Melbourne, there was a sprinkler system in place, 500


people were evacuated from that block, no-one died and the reason


they got out safely was because there was a sprinkler in place. In


some parts of the building, the sprinkler system was overcome by


fire, but it was still sufficient to allow people to leave. The question


has to be asked why the government has not been learning lessons. I


would ask the enquiry to look into that. In addition, some countries


have taken steps to limit the number of people who can live at height


within tower blocks of certain designs. I would also ask the


enquiry to look into that. Are the regulations that we need to take to


try to limit the number of people who live in tower blocks at height


because this again was an issue in the Melbourne fire where there were


so many people due to shortage of housing and housing costs, there


were so many people crammed into units in that tower block because


that is something we need to have a fire regulation and I would ask the


enquiry to look into that. I am grateful to him for giving way. When


I met with Sheffield local authority, they expressed concerns


of individuals living in flats above takeaways and other commercial


premises as well. That often share the same kitchen and backroom as


commercial premises and often are overcrowded with illegal immigrants


and overcrowding. It is something we have to look at. In another


situation, the numbers of people in a block could become an issue. We


don't know that wasn't an issue here as well. Another thing the enquiry


must look at is the issue raised by my honourable friend the chair of


the select committee about building control. There are a number of


issues here about enforcement and making regular checks only the work


that is being undertaken during refurbishment. Are fire blocks in


place in between for us? The advice I'm getting from a constituent of


mine who is an expert and has been in the media and speaking on this


issue and has done so for many years, he is saying we are very


relaxed about the enforcement of fire blocks between the floors and


around windows and we need to ensure that there is proper enforcement of


this. Again, I think this is an area that the enquiry should look into.


Also, this issue about being able to appoint your own building control.


This is a responsibility that must be with the local authority. There


must be clear lines of responsibility. We must do away with


this situation be local authorities are really put to the sidelines over


insuring safety standards are of the utmost importance when these schemes


are going head. Does he agree with me that it is also a scandal that


building control does not require any minimum qualifications to enter


into being a building control practitioner? Is this not something


he would agree we need urgent action on? Fightback absolutely. An


incident like this shows that you must have a basic knowledge of fire


safety regulations. There are many other issues that building control


have to cover. Of course you must have a minimum requirement of


qualifications, it goes without saying. I want to come back quickly


to this issue or sprinklers because it makes absolutely no sense that we


have a situation where new blocks built to new building standards over


30 metres high are required to have a sprinkler system installed. Of


older buildings built to an older standard of building control are not


required to retrofit. That is completely and utterly illogical. It


must be no outside of the enquiry and everything else that the


government now accept that we have to fund, and the government has to


fund it, the retrofitting of sprinklers into those blocks of


flats where the recommended by fire safety officers. This fire shows


that that is essential and that should be done. The government


should just move ahead on that and accept that that is something that


we cannot hold back on. On the issue of cladding, we are told there was a


plan to pit fireproof cladding on but it was ?2 per square metre more


expensive than the cheaper version. If that is correct, obviously the


enquiry will have something to say about that. But there are some


questions here. This type of cladding was already on other blocks


were similar fires had taken place. Why was it allowed to be used on


that block? Is it true that the contractors that were actually


erecting the cladding at the time raised concerns about whether they


should actually be put -- putting cladding on a block of that height.


If that is true, action must be taken against the people who made


that decision. I will not give way because I have taken up some time. I


have had the nod from the Speaker. If I don't sit down quite soon I


won't get cold again, so clearly action must be taken on that. One


final question I have the Minister really is about the building


regulation advisory committee. We were told in the report into Lakanal


that the committee would meet to oversee fire regulations but that


did not take place. The Minister said it would be completed by the


end of this year. It has not yet met. And mini digger from the


Minister why that is. Why it is in the face of the report from Lakanal


that that committee did not meet to review those fire regulations


because in my opinion I think that that is the government asleep on the


job. To conclude, I hope the enquiry when it reports will learn the


lessons from this once and for all. Lakanal should have told us the


steps we should have taken to prevent this. Fires that have taken


place since Lakanal in other countries were pointing the way to


the action we should've taken. Once and for all, we have two insure this


type of tragedy never happens again. Would like to extend congratulations


to the new member for Lewisham West. It feels strange to be welcoming you


because I've only just arrived myself. It was a wonderful speech


and I look forward to working with her in future. I greatly enjoyed


giving my own maiden speech. But it gives me no pleasure to speak to the


House about this terrible tragedy. I'm afraid to say it will be one of


those disasters that marks this period in our history and we will


remember for a very long period to come. I think the Prime Minister has


responded to it entirely appropriately by calling for a judge


led enquiry. I was very pleased that the Shadow Secretary of State didn't


question the fundamental basis on which we intend to proceed. Further


to go to the Lord Chief Justice and ask for a very senior judge to be


appointed and proceed with an enquiry which will look into the


immediate causes of the fire but also the wider issues. As my


honourable friend the Member for North East Hertfordshire said


earlier, that actually gives the enquiry the opportunity to report


perhaps in two stages or perhaps in several stages so that local


residents can hear some of the issues that affected them


immediately whilst the enquiry goes on to consider broader questions


which affect communities and councils in many areas across the


country. With reference to wider issues, I would like to see a few


remarks. And I do so sort of declaring an interest in that I was


for a while on the board of a housing association in the West of


England of the Arlington Housing group. The first thing that has


struck me is something that came out of a BBC Newsnight investigation


which suggests that developers may have used desk -based research and


only desk -based research to persuade inspectors that the


cladding concerned was safe to use. If that is the case, then there are


serious questions to answer following the tragedy and we want to


know I'm sure where that has happened elsewhere in the country as


well. I think about tenants feedback. If


the reports that have come to light our that tenants were complaining to


their management organisation about safety in the building and those


calls were not being listened to, again, we need to know why. We need


to know why the DMO was not picking up on that very important feedback


that only someone who lives in the building can give. I'm not saying


that if it had been listened to it could have prevented the fire, but


without feedback you are going to put people in other buildings at


risk. Of that I am sure we can be certain. This brings me onto my next


point, the issue of illegal sub tenants, illegal subletting is. It


is a very delicate and sensitive subject and the Government has been


absolutely right to create an dot-mac and Amazon need to encourage


everyone to seek help and to come forward. To seek amnesty. We're you


have illegal subletting, it really, really discourages people living in


that building to come forward and report their concerns. It breaks the


feedback. We all have to think about ways in which we can ensure that


people living in social housing in this country can come forward and


have their concerns heard. My fourth point relates to something I said in


the house the other day. It has been picked up on by a couple of other


members. What happens in Kensington and Chelsea begs serious questions


about emergency and contingency planning in our local authorities.


Just as some other local authorities have used the cladding which seems


to have been a major contributor towards the spire, other local


authorities may have contingency or a emergency planning that leaves a


reassured by the Secretary of reassured by the Secretary


State's comments that the Cabinet State's comments that the Cabinet


officers are already looking into this. The acumen this work is taken


forward. I would just like to reflect on something that the


said. He said I am glad we appear to said. He said I am glad we appear to


be in agreement that we should have the joint lead inquiry. I was also


very pleased that the Shadow Secretary of State did not criticise


Sir Martin. That is much to be welcomed. He is a highly respected


judge. He has achieved great things in his profession, dealing with


extremely complex areas of law which will reap relevant to this inquiry.


That is an asset to the investigation that is going to take


place. We should all welcome it. His ability to do that work is not


hampered by the colour of his skin and he is not hampered by his social


class. His skills have gotten to where and it is his skills skills we


should back. This inquiry is going to require some very cool headed


thinking. It will not be helped by hot remarks that suggest to victims


and their families they were intentionally killed by people in


Government. It will not be held by remarks that suggest someone's


impartiality is undermined because of their social class. We all have a


duty to get behind this inquiry whilst seeking to debate its


particulars. But to get behind this inquiry and encourage people to live


in the area and other terror blocks to come forward and be part of it.


To make her maiden speech... Thank you. Can I congratulate you on your


election. It is a privilege to make my maiden speech but it is sobering


to do so in a two-day's debate on Grenfell which reminds us all of the


seriousness of our duties as members of this House. I am pleased to


follow my honourable friend the member for Lewisham west who has


also made her maiden speech today. I would like to begin by paying


tribute to my predecessor, the son of a railwayman, he has been true to


campaigner for Barnsley East, on campaigner for Barnsley East, on


issues like immunity for Mrs and brass bands. For all of his


achievements, he has been awarded with that rare accolade of featuring


on the wall of the strangers bar, back to the wall than the floor.


LAUGHTER Music is his passion and know it at


his job as chief executive of UK music. I know family is important to


him and I wish him and joke very well with their new adventure. I


would like to mention his predecessor, who served as leader of


Barnsley Council, MP for Barnsley East and now as the mayor of


Barnsley, a unique achievement. Before entering this place, I was a


teacher. Working in education I saw the profound power of learning and I


have learnt that it is incumbent upon all of us to support the next


generation. I am proud to be the first female MP for Barnsley East. I


would not be here without the help and encouragement of a former female


member, Madam Deputy Speaker, you will remember who sat in the Euro


chair for many years, I am delighted she is here today along with my


parents. I am the daughter of a midwife and a care worker and I owe


them huge thanks for all of their support. For the last four years, I


have been proud to fight for working people as an officer of the GMB


trade union. As a member of this House I will continue that fight for


working people, not least for the many jobs that are more precarious


than ever before. Today's debate reminds us of what we have fought


for over so many years and how the lessons of the past are still as


relevant today. Even now, not all committees are equal and the


protection of human life requires our action in this House. Many


people will know about Barnsley's history and there is so much to be


proud of, but I still have constituents waiting for justice for


what happened to them is at or agreed in 84. We must ensure the


Grenfell victims do not wait as long. In Barnsley East, our heritage


runs along that dot-mac alongside. Our communities were built on heavy


industry, glass, steel and coal. Mining with the way of life for


entire communities, 30,000 people worked down the pits and the impact


of their last is still felt today. Many of my honourable friends will


know my constituency from the film Last Off. It should the character,


grit, humour and solidarity, with honest, decent, hard-working people.


Those who have seen the film will not be able to forget Danny's


powerful speech, where he says nothing matter like people matter.


It is traditional stock of the great history of your constituency any


maiden speech. I am very proud to do so. Nothing matters like people


matter. It is above all the people of finally East to make the


constituency what it is, people like the teaching assistants, her pay


following that her bills rising. She looks after our children, we should


look after her. People like the insecure workouts, she works hard


for her family, we should work just as hard for her. People like the


veteran who served his country yet is now homeless and jobless. He


fought for us, we should fight for him. In a Barnsley Easterby can be


proud of our industry and our history, all of that matters but


none of it matters like people matters. There is a banner in a


Barnsley in Brighton with the words the past we inherit, the future we


build. I have spoken about our past, but the people of bind the Khan east


did not send me here to honour our history. The centimetre to build our


future and that is what I intend to do. Thank you. This is only the


second opportunity I have had to make a speech in this chamber. I am


looking at those making their maiden speeches and thinking, that was only


me last week. But I am also looking at the benches opposite and


thinking, they haven't had the opportunity or the presence of mind


so far to elect a female leader of the party. And yet from the speeches


we have just heard from Lewisham and Barnsley, it cannot be long until


they do that. Because there is an amazing female talent in that party


and I just cannot understand why they just haven't taken over the


party and taken all of the positions on the front bench, with the


greatest of respect to those men who are sat in them at the moment. It is


an honour to follow you both and it is unfortunate, it will only demean


my own performance. Moving on, I feel not only do I need to declare


some interest by referring members to my entry in the register members


interest but I also feel like I am presenting my CV. I am still


currently the chair of the board of a housing association that has


20,000 homes in Warsaw, I am also until the end of this month, I am


still trying to help out, the assistant chief executive of YMCA in


Birmingham and they have 300 units of accommodation for formerly


homeless young people. I am also a member of the chartered Institute


and I am a civil engineer by degree, that is relevant because of the


points appealingly to make. First of all, I have obviously sat in a


number of meetings and chair of the board. That association is currently


on the site or in contract to build approximately 800 properties. Some


of those properties will be shared ownership and it is understood there


is a need for that type of property across the UK. Some of those


properties are the slightly more innovative rent to buy, there will


be opportunities for different ten years of housing than I funded by


this Government and perhaps the thing I am most proud of in terms of


that Government funding is that YMCA will be in receipt of homelessness


funding and that will allow us to modernise a 72 bed hostel we have


need of modernisation. This need of modernisation.


Government is investing in housing Government is investing in housing


of various tenuous. My right honourable friend said that... Did I


get that right? Said the Grenfell tragedy will be one we talk about


for many years to come, it is a significant and tragic event. Next


year will mark the 50th anniversary of the disaster at Ronan point. The


ensuing explosion that was caused by gas leaking from a pipe to her


cooker blew her across the room, but more importantly knocked out some


supporting balls in that flat. She was on the flat fifth from top and


not only did it take out the supporting balls and damage of the


flats above that there was any catastrophic failure for all flats


below, resulting in four people dying. The devastation to that


building. Subsequently tests were building. Subsequently tests were


done, new structural supports were put in and the building was


reoccupied. The consideration with regard to the design criteria went


on for years, many people challenging complex things, affected


by bird the windows are open or not, and eventually the building was


taken down about 18 years later. The point I am trying to make is,


sometimes it is not easy to understand what has gone wrong.


Speaking as somebody who has supervised the construction of these


buildings, designers invariably air on the side of caution. A very


powerful speech and I value his experience in the building sector.


Does he agree that quite often that query terms like limited


combustibility argues it might be combustibility argues it might be


more helpful if there was a more precise standard for fire retardant


C? Niebrugge this is an opportunity for some recommendations on those


lines, where everybody knows exactly what the standard is that needs to


be met. My honourable friend is right, where there is the


opportunity for any interpretation that you have the chance to air on


the side of caution or on the side of cutting costs. That explicit


detail would prevent that opportunity for interpretation. From


my point of view, you will never be able to mitigate all risk. It is


incredibly important we work with our Fire Service to minimise that


risk. I am delighted to say that I am meeting the head of the Fire


Service at YMCA, he inspected our hostel and made recommendations with


regard to the improvements we can make, and we are acting upon them.


This is relevant, because we have Origi discuss the idea of the state


that policy. The concept of that is built on the idea of


compartmentalisation. If all of the fabric of the flat allows to raise


exposure to fire, before it penetrates, then you can reasonably


stay in that flat for a period of time, safe in the knowledge that


somebody should be able to come and rescue you during that period.


He will have seen this in the warm weather, fire doors propped open


ironically with fire extinguishers, rendering the door useless in the


event of a fire. Similarly, we have seen fire doors painted. The smoke


seal strip on the edge of the door, affected by pain. There are. It's


serving its purpose in the event of fire. What I'm saying, we have a


responsibility commit to go back to the big housing providers, and seek


assurance from them individually that they are sticking with the


legislation already in place, and before we go looking towards too


much on new legislation, let's make at least absolutely sure... Thank


you, Madam Deputy Speaker, with the member for Walsall North agreed they


have a responsibility to provide adequate resources to our Fire


Services? Let's deal with staff morale. The pay cap imposed on our


emergency services, like the Fire Service, not helping matters at all.


I am not sure I can totally agree with the latter half of the point. I


think personally the response for the Fire Service for the Grenfell


Tower tragedy was absolutely fantastic. The response to the


Ariana grant a concert was fantastic. The service I have


personally had from the Fire Service has been absolutely fantastic.


Clearly they are managing to deliver a first-class Fire Service based on


the resources they currently have. I would end by saying let's make


absolutely sure we understand fire safety is everybody's


responsibility. We will have a duty to ensure whatever Bill building we


are operating in... I know you are just about to close. Accepting


points about personal responsibility, not painting doors,


fire extinguishers. People must be forgiven for leaving their windows


open on a hot summer night, and the flames engulfing it outside. I could


not agree more. We need to be certain the design criteria we are


applying to these buildings mitigates for that kind of


circumstance. At times of national disaster, poet laureates are called


upon to commemorate and reflect upon events. In North Kensington we have


we have our own Glen Johnsons and Alfred Lord Tennysons. We have Paton


Whisper calling out Grenfell Tower Britain in guttural prose. We have


poets and artists aplenty. The council does not recognise the


talent. The Philistine council would like to spend ?30 million on Opera


for a minority in Holland Park over 20 years. Why is this relevant to


the debate to date? Kensington and Chelsea Council has misspent


government and council taxpayers funds on countless vanity projects


and hand-outs as we have heard. Underfunding essential services like


nurseries, homework clubs, advice centres, skills training, and of


course as tragically demonstrated, council housing. Not to mention


controversial project to hand over Kensington library and youth centre


to private schools at a cost to the council at ?11 million. Without even


consulting the public whose money is being used to fund private


education. ?11 million gift to the private sector, what they cannot


find money for sprinklers, decent cladding and fire alarms. Where is


the accountability? To whom does Britain's favourite council report?


Not to the task force. As has been acknowledge, the council response in


the and days after the fire was shockingly inadequate, possibly


criminally neglectful. We shall see. Have they learned from their


mistakes? They have not. They remove the chief executive, the senior


councillor resigned. Who is replacing them? Where fundamental


changes desperately needed and no change at all. A consolidation of


the leadership that failed. Survivors and volunteers are asking


where is the money so generously donated by the public? Where are the


millions, who is deciding where it should go? Why is the council not


using its one third of the billion reserve, purchasing properties for


those they have failed. Underspending revenue shovelled into


capital reserves for vanity projects should be returned to those who need


it. What is needed is fundamental change. I can see we're not going to


get it without further outside intervention and the support of


people who can be trusted. The longer the current situation


prevails, the worse it will get. I am asking for intervention. I get


daily updates from people on the ground. Where is the wraparound


support for the bereaved and desperate people staying in hotels


as the much trumpeted high-quality temporary accommodation has not been


suitable or not offered little. Why offer a survivor a high-rise flat?


Why offered a disabled woman a home only reachable by stairs and the


left? That happened this week. Why offer a flat in Pimlico, too far to


reach survivors networks? I thank the honourable lady for giving way.


Listening very carefully to the words. First she not accept it


should be the choice of people offering accommodation as to whether


they take it? I thank you for that. They have been offered one choice.


They have had no choice. It is that choice of the hotel. In temporary


accommodation, they have a choice of three or four. After that, they may


be threatened with involuntary homelessness this. They have been


offered one each. Nothing has happened this week. I direct


communication, still nowise accountable. More specifically on


housing, can meet knowledge that racist is to be chaotic daily and


for many, why is the TMO under criminal investigation still in


control of housing? The updates I get from survivors, members of


voluntary groups and others involved in the project talk about a lack of


cultural awareness of some social workers, lack of continuity of care.


The issue of amnesty or no amnesty for those of concern over


immigration. It continues. Communication is very poor. Issues


relating to blocks continue? Are they safe? The confusion from the


TMO, about payment of rent, threatened evictions for those who


have not paid. This may have been dealt with, the legacy is still


there. Does where they stand? It seems not. Some neighbours in blocks


are to scared to return. They say they hate ghosts. As far as we can


ascertain, survivors are given one choice of accommodation. Why only


one? Another turned down a flat with mould, another turned down one


scheduled for demolition. There is an eight centralised list of decent


housing. There seems to be no coordination. Someone offered three


impeccably refurbished flats for the council, only to be told everyone


that housing high-quality homes, which we know it's not true. This


continuing disaster and lack of care and respect survivors is


unacceptable. This comes from the culture at Kensington and Chelsea


Council that needs to be addressed, and soon. The worse it is for the


survivors every day. Will the government continued to let the


council failed survivors in so many ways? This is fated whispers,


Grenfell Tower Britain? I would like to turn to mental health. Many


survivors are still in shock, cannot begin to recover until they bury


their loved ones. Many will have to wait a very long time for that. Many


are fragile indeed, I have huge concerns for mental health. I have


seen people I know still in shock, not on any path to recovery. One I


know was on the phone to her terrified best friend in the tower


for over one hour debating to whether stay in the flat or leave,


then the phone went dead. The surviving friend calls and texts


every day. Even though she knows her friend is dead. Who is looking after


her? Particularly concerned about those who may have mental health


crises. We have had one threatened suicide, one attempted suicide.


There maybe more. Many affected people will need urgent and


intensive treatment some point. The minority party councillors in


Kensington and Chelsea have been asking for increases in places of


safety for people suffering crises. After a series of incidents where


people with mental health issues or 30 mental health housing, had


crises, and ended up in a police cell because there was nowhere else


for them to go. This is why we hear that an entire wall the London


Hospital, locked as there are not enough cash to keep it open,


patients off-loaded into private mental health care facilities at a


cost of nearly ?600 a day. Where is the logic, who is accountable for


this? After four weeks we still witnessing a process which is


reactive, where the Council and government are one step behind. We


need a sensible plan in place. We need to review the closed ward,


allocate funds to staff it. Please can we have a proper strategic plan,


as we go forward for housing and all the other issues, because we are


reacting daily? Looking to the future, a lot of people in groups


are beginning to plan forward, many come to me, many well-meaning. They


want to tell them how they went wrong, have they can better approach


their service. With my background in architecture and planning, I have


many ideas, some which I have been working on for years. I cannot


possibly support, at a time when people feel so distrustful, any Caer


top-down intervention, however experts well-meaning that may be. At


any time, particularly a time like this, good planning starts with


people whose lives will be changed by it. A blank sheet of paper from a


good planning should end with improving the lives of those already


living there. This state programme currently proposed in the council,


and many councils of all political views, not for the benefit of


existing tenants. We need a completely fresh approach.


Overwriting this is a genuine and often misplaced, sometimes insulting


attitude, by those in of powers and influence, belittling people. I have


never believed that, that is why I was elected. You have heard about


our volunteer groups and organisations, they did not spring


up out of nowhere, always underappreciated, undervalued. We


need to learn lessons from them, bring them into the future. What was


so cruelly taken from our Grenfell Tower people must be returned. They


do not wish to be penalised financially forever foreign actor


they were not responsible for. They want their dignity back, somewhere


decent to recover. You cannot bring never ceased back to life. They want


a choice of where to bury their dead. This is not always been


offered. This horrific event must be a game changing. We need a thorough


review of approaches to state development. Funding of social


housing. We need to listen to the people affected and a warnings and


act upon their concerns with the transparency and honesty which has


clearly been missing. Grenfell Tower people do not want your pity. They


do not want charity. They want justice, and they want change. Our


poets and artists will continue to shame us all with their insight and


intelligence. Until we recognise that, and accept collaboration into


the fundamental change that is so desperately needed. Welcome to your


place. Can I say how humbling it is the follow on from my honourable


friend from Kensington, and her powerful words. What a difference it


makes to have a Labour MPs speaking for the voiceless, and those without


power in that constituency after this tragic incident. It is clear to


many of us who find ourselves unable to comprehend the shocking fire,


that so perfectly captures ever deeper national, political and


social crisis. The Grenfell Tower fire is the symbol of the systematic


running down of institutions we all need. Inevitably as a systems begin


to break down from it is the poor and vulnerable first in line to


experience that failure. Madam Deputy Speaker we need high-quality


journalism from a properly funded legal aid system that allows all


very people to have their vital protection by the law. Really


properly paid public sector workers, local government that has the


resources and power to do what is needed, not just act as another


stamp for Westminster. Of course, it is critical we focus


on the detail of what went wrong at Grenfell today but I would like to


make two short point arguing for wider action, the kind of action


that never ends. The institutions with the critical role in preventing


disasters and clearing up the mess when things go wrong do not exist by


accident. If they are run down, then we get to the point where we, the


lawmakers in this place, our daily exposing families and communities to


an acceptable risk. When this happens, as it has four too long, we


are culpable because we have pushed systems and people to the limit. I


stand today with friends on the side of the Haas to say we will fight


hard to end the relentless running down of multiple civic functions. No


longer will they do this in our name. It looks to me as though the


country is with us in our endeavour. Madam Deputy Speaker, it is clear


that both local authorities and the Fire Service have been very heavily


relied upon both before the tragedy of Grenfell and with the aftermath


as it unfolded. So far in Norwich we only have a few buildings of


concern, but that is a small and diminishing army of public sector


and housing association workers doing their job stay in, day out


with both diminishing resources and morale, they have had to deal with


the fallout from Grenfell. Too often these workers have too little


resources and power to regulate the private sector in the public


interest. Of the six blocks currently being tested for from


abroad cladding in Norwich, five are in the private sector. And what is


being done to check privately owned student halls of residence? Can the


Minister address the point that many are now privately owned and manage?


How come the Government and universities ensure they are checked


for flammable cladding and the highest safety standards apply? Can


they confirmed that student halls are classed as other residential


buildings and therefore subject to weaker requirements for sprinklers?


If so, will the Government consider closing the loophole?


On a similar note, parents rely on their children being safe in


schools. We know the Government had planned to change the regulations on


fire safety in schools, removing the expectation that most new school


buildings would be fitted with sprinklers. On the basis that they


do not need to be sprinkler protected to achieve a reasonable


standard of light safety, the words of the Government. Since Grenfell,


ministers have hinted that they will, rightly, be abandoned. Can


they make it clear to the house that will happen?


Schools in Norwich suffered particularly badly from Government


cuts and threatened with the worst settlement in Norfolk under the


proposed funding formula, but we are waiting to find out if and how that


will be implemented. Will any central funding be made available


for essential safety work so they do not face more unfunded costs from


Government? Back to local authorities. They have


been subject to a thousand unnatural shocks in funding and changes to


their ways of working. To name one, the mandatory 1% rent reduction from


the Government, which reduces Norwich City Council's ability to


repair and improve its ageing housing stock by an average of ?7.4


million a year. The reality of that mandatory rent reduction, less


investment in council housing stock, risking council activities like the


daily safety checks carried out on high-rise blocks. In Norwich we are


fortunate to have a Labour run City Council but make sure those safety


checks happen, but my counsel, like many local authorities, comes up


against the physical limits of what it can do with its resources. Kurtz


year after year by this Government. Madam Deputy Speaker, it is not just


local authorities struggling to maintain safe standards. The Fire


Services, the men and women we are so quick to applaud for their


bravery, rightly so, have concerns. Full-time firefighters earn less


than ?30,000 a year. It is welcome to see the 1% cap was not imposed on


their new pay offer. But there is a catch. Firefighters are now


concerned that given there has been no confirmation about how this will


be funded, that the money will come from the service itself. Borrow from


Peter to pay Paul is not improving anybody's safety. This Government


must understand the ongoing funding cuts to institutions and those who


worked so hard for them are critical parts of the Grenfell story.


Reversing them is essential to prevent another tragedy.


To make her maiden speech, Sarah Jones.


Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am pleased to make my maiden speech


in such a very important debate, I congratulate my honourable friends


from Barnsley East, Lewisham and Kensington for their contributions


already. I am deeply proud to have been


elected as the first ever woman MP in Croydon. I want to pay tribute to


my predecessor, Gavin Barwell, who served our town for seven years.


Among the many good things that he did, his work to introduce Lillian's


law following the tragic death of 14-year-old Lillian Groves in 2010


means drivers can be prosecuted if caught exceeding new drug limits.


Since the law was passed there have been over 13,000 convictions.


This was a good thing that Gavin did, Madam Deputy Speaker. He is


also an acclaimed author. His book was, I understand, much red among


members opposite. How To Win A Marginal Seat. I can't wait for the


sequel. I should also record my gratitude to the Prime Minister for


giving me an early replay after my narrow defeat in 2015. I am so glad


I was able to repay the favour by helping her with her own staffing


problems. I want to pay tribute to my honourable friend the member for


Swansea West, who was MP for Croydon Central for several years, and also


the MP for Mole Valley who was once MP for Croydon. And my honourable


friend for Croydon North is here, already a great champion for a time.


I hope two will be better that one on these benches and that we can


truly stand up for Croydon. I am privileged to have worked the


two former members of this House, the late Mo Mowlam when she was a


trailblazing Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, and as a civil servant


Tessa Jowell when she was in charge of delivering the 2012 Olympics. In


completely different ways they were both truly inspirational and I'm


grateful to Tessa for her help during my recent campaign. I am so


proud to be part of a record number of women in this House and to be


part of the women's Parliamentary Labour Party, which makes up 45% of


Labour MPs. Just one more and we will be there. With the growing


number of women and men from ethnic minorities who are getting closer to


looking like the country we represent. I think that is really


significant for our democracy. Madam Deputy Speaker, Croydon is


deeply special to me. I have lived here all my life, generations of my


family were born and have died here. Most recently my father died on the


11th of June this year, three days after the general election. He lived


just long enough to see his daughter fulfil her goal and to be proved


right about my honourable friend the member for Islington North. He is a


big fan of the Leader of the Opposition. It is a good lesson to


us all, listen to your dad! Croydon is exceptional, the greenest and


largest London borough, its diversity is its strength. From the


woodlands of Shirley to the tower blocks in the town centre, from the


strong community of new Addington surrounded by fields to the


Victorian terraces of South Norwood. The name of our town, most agree,


derives from crocus Valley, where during the Roman period crocuses


were grown to make saffron to be sold on the streets of London as


medicine. In the heart of Croydon we are growing crocuses again to make


saffron. Our great theatre the Fairfield Halls is being reborn


through a multi-million pound makeover, art and culture here is at


the cutting edge with artists from around the world literally painting


our town with new artwork. Our technology seen as the


fastest-growing in London and we have the largest number of young


people. We are ambitious for Croydon and I know we will thrive. But there


are two sides to every tale. Seven years of austerity has ripped


through our community. Low pay, the horror that is the implementation of


Universal Credit, cuts to disability benefits, high housing costs,


rocketing homelessness, crippling local government cuts, an increase


in knife crime, cuts to school funding and young people starting


their lives with debt. We are letting people down, Madam Deputy


Speaker, if we do not as a House and acknowledge the reality of the lives


of those we are here to serve. Many in this House are in complete denial


about the scale of the problems we face. We are letting people down


more if we do not have the greatest energy and hunger for change act in


every way we can to make the lives of those we represent better,


richer, more secure. Grenfell Tower show just how extraordinary our


emergency services can respond at a time of great crisis, but it also


shows how badly we get things wrong. On the Saturday after the disaster I


met a Croydon fireman called to fight the Grenfell place just days


earlier. There were tears in both our eyes as he told me about the


terrible things he had seen. He made me promise not to rest until we saw


justice done. Madam Deputy Speaker, today is a House I hope we can


realise that promise. It is clear we fail too many foot too


long, the victims were speaking but we were not listening. We cannot


make the same mistake again. The member for Wentworth internally


suggested setting up an advisory panel to help build confidence and


relationships with local residents and survivors. Shelter has said it


is not fair to expect residents to rely on written submissions only and


the current timeline is too short. This seems sensible. I wonder if we


need to be brave enough to say we do not have all the answers. The whole


point of listening is to listen and to then act. I would like is to be


strong enough to do that with the survivors on the local community. I


am proud that the Labour Croydon Council was the first to commit to


retrofitting high tower blocks with sprinklers -- all our high tower


blocks. I call on the Government to clarify whether they will fund this


and the other changes we need to make and reverse the shocking cuts


to local government we have seen. We cannot afford not to do this.


We must view Grenfell in the wider context of a national housing


crisis. Three figures tell the story. Right now 76,000 families


live in temporary accommodation, the best part of 120,000 children. 20%


of homes do not meet the Government decent homes standard, including


fire safety, and we need to build 75,000 social rented homes a year,


last year we build less than 7000. I spoke to thousands of people on


the doorstep in the election. Of course there was nothing like the


scale of the horrors of Grenfell but there were many experiences leading


people to believe they had no voice. Having a voice is not about speaking


out, it is about knowing you will be listened to and being sure that


action will be taken to make a difference. Nowhere is that more


important than in the response to the Grenfell Tower fire. I said it


was my goal to be MP for Croydon Central, my ambition is not to be


something something, to make a difference to the lives of the


people I represent now. I don't underestimate the scale of that


responsibility. Many young people voted for me, as they did in many


other constituencies. Many voted for the very first time. They had


perhaps never voted before because they felt politicians had nothing to


offer. Now they have put their faith in democracy, in us, for the first


time. We must not fail them. If the election taught as anything it is


that we cannot take anyone for granted. As Croydon's Stormzy put so


well in one of his songs, you're never too big for the blitz. When I


am campaigning again in five years or even sooner, the true


testimony will be that people tell me I listened, I heard what they


said and I did my best to make a difference to their lives. I think


that must be the test for us all on both sides of the House. Thank you.


Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker, it is a particular honour to follow


from three new maiden speeches, all made by three new female members. I


have only made my maiden speech two weeks ago, I am speaking as a very


experienced old-timer. What particularly resonated with me was


what the member for Barnsley East said, people matter. That is very


relevant to our debate today as well. Madam Deputy Speaker, one


month from now this tragedy, it is no less painful for the victims and


their families, no less fear and no less anger for failings of the


political system. The disaster at Grenfell Tower left a huge scar not


just in the local community of Kensington but across Britain. It


has moved people deeply. Whether they have local connections or not.


That has been reflected in the generosity shown by public


donations. It is also exposed deep divisions and inequalities in our


society, which we have ignored for far too long. This disaster should


have been avoided. How is it possible that in a very wealthy Boro


back -- like Kensington and Chelsea, dozens can burn to death in their


own homes? We need to find out from the public inquiry exactly what


happened and what mistakes were made. But reports that unsafe


building materials were used, that they need to cut cost was put above


tenants' safety and concerns raised by the residents were repeatedly


ignored paint a picture that goes much deeper than this disaster, it


goes to the heart of our political system and its failures. Trust


between our local communities and the political system has been


seriously eroded and has to be restored.


Trust is an essential part of a healthy democracy. And a functioning


society. In the work to restore lives affected by Grenfell Tower,


everything is possible to rebuild that trust. That means genuinely


listening to victims, families and the local community. Involving


residents in the communities and decisions affecting their future.


Taking all possible action to put things right. They must include an


urgent increase in social housing provision across our country. This


disaster was a result of a long long-term failure of successive


governments to invest in social housing. Leaving house-building to


the private sector has utterly failed. Led to a housing crisis


driving vast inequality, pushing many families into homelessness


must. This will continue to spiral out of control without action. We


need widespread reform on the systems and structures. An immediate


review of the building regulations to ensure they are up to date and


appropriate, we cannot wait for the results of the public enquiry. We


cannot have a repeat of what happened when a review of regulation


was promised and not delivered. Lessons must be learned and


implemented fast given the fire started in a fridge, there must be


also reform on electrical safety. My colleagues in both houses have been


fighting for the introduction of compulsory electrical safety checks


in rented homes. The government has seen this as an unnecessary


regulation. Now it is surely inexcusable not to make this simple


change that has the potential to save lives. All residents, in


whatever type of housing they are living have a right to live in homes


that are safe, warm, and in clean and green neighbourhoods. Madam


Deputy Speaker, this disaster as exposed huge weaknesses in our


country, and undermined people's trust. We have a responsibility in


rebuilding trust between the public and elected representatives. This


cabin has the power to take the radical steps to fix the system.


They must do that now. To make his maiden speech, Alex Sobel. Thank you


Madam Deputy Speaker. Congratulations on your election. I


am grateful to make my contribution to this honourable House. My


honourable friend for Croydon Central, and the West pens and


Barnsley East. I would like to briefly speak to my own


constituency, Leeds North West. As anyone who has visited, it is a


place that defy expectations. It starts in inner-city Hyde Park,


where we have a vibrant culture music scene, including the legendary


Brunel social club. Only weeks ago my friend the member for Islington


North gave a speech to 5000 people. People climbing trees, standing on


rooftops to feel part of our movement. We move on to Headingley


with its world-renowned sporting pedigree. Legendary stadium and


cricket ground, home to Yorkshire County Cricket club, the most


successful County Championship team. Also a place where I have spent many


happy afternoons is my days as a student. There is a fine literary


tradition, once the home of Tolkien. Now home to many creative figures,


including the award-winning television writer, Kay Mellor. We


have a grade one listed church of John the Baptist, one of the best


and most complete Norman churches in the country. My constituency also


has Yorkshire's International Airport. And partly with the breadth


of events hosting hundreds of events every year, to the cliched and


Victorian fair. Between the market towns lies the beautiful Upland,


where the foundation stones for this very House came from. It provides


the foundation of our Parliamentary democracy. My first visit to this


place was 20 years ago where I came as executive officer of Leeds


University union to lobby Leeds MPs about the retention of student


grants, opposing tuition fees. An issue I intend to pursue in this


Parliament. I met with Harold West, the only other Labour MP to


represent Leeds West, who agreed with me, and showed me the Palace of


Westminster, reflecting his great generosity of spirit. Which he and


his family continue to show me this day. One I wish to replicate now in


this place, having a family of my own. My immediate predecessor said


in this place for 12 years, during that time he became champion for a


number of causes, not least his support for rugby league, chairman


of the all-party Parliamentary Rugby league group. Championing a sport of


great importance to our local area. Craig was a strong advocate for pubs


across the country and local breweries. Serving as chair of the


all-party save the Pub group. Greg Mulholland was a hard-working local


MP. The filling the tensions in his maiden speech to this House. My


honourable friend, claims to be the first Darren in this place. I can


say I'm the first pop Sobell TV in Parliament. My family came to this


country and could not imagine their son would be an MP. It was at


university, my interests are fighting for justice and equality


began. As a student representative for the School are competing at the


University of Leeds. Advocating fellow students, before campaigning


on student funding and against racism, I'm still an elected member


for Leeds City Council. I was the that climate change is not a topic


close to my heart and which are returned shortly. I turned to the


substantive issue of the debate. I would like to echo the words of


honourable friends you have spoken on the devastating event. Issuing my


heart felt condolences to the victims of the Grenfell tower fire.


I pay tribute to the emergency services who responded rapidly and


bravely. To my honourable friend, the member for Kensington, and all


the volunteers who supported families in the aftermath of the


fire. So many lives lost, a tragedy defying description. On the Sunday


following the fire I visited the only tower block in my constituency


ensuring tenants felt safe in their homes. Leeds City Council told me no


aluminium composite cladding were in flats in the city. I hope the


minister will take action to make sure testing is taking on all


cladding in this country working with and compelling bodies to do the


testing. The testing of cladding fully addressed in the enquiry.


Madam Deputy Speaker, I'm sure all members of the House will agree on


the urgent action for safety. I would like to address the use of


cladding is part of our wider aims to reduce carbon emissions and fuel


bills. In my constituency a house sale programme of external wall


cladding, installation, started and installed due to cuts in


eco-funding. Leaving one side of the bread with cladding, the other


without. External wall installation, using mineral wool, resin or other


materials meeting building regulations contributes to eradicate


fuel poverty. Meeting our obligations under the Paris climate


change agreement. We must insure the work is completed alongside other


measures, not just in housing transport, energy and manufacturing


to ensure runaway climate change does not occur. The safety of


citizens is paramount. We must also ensure that standards and inspection


regimes are amongst the best in the world. Can the words of President


Obama, no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than


climate change. This chamber is a stage where the world can hear our


voice. It is incumbent on me to use their voice to ensure that while I


sit on these benches I will speak truth to power and be an advocate


for this one issue which will define the shape of our future more than


any other. Action to combat climate change will give us the best


possible chance to save this planet. It is the only home we have got.


Without ensuring we take every step to a carbon free future we will be


judged as having failed future generations. I'm sure nobody came


into this House to be a failure. There will be many other local and


national issues I will raise in the House concerning market towns,


universities and the sporting and cultural institutions, transport and


technology. Today, I thank you Madam Speaker for making my maiden speech.


I pledge to my constituents and members to be a strong voice in this


House as well as being a powerful advocate for my constituency. It is


a pleasure to see the chair. Delightful to follow the excellent


maiden speech by the honourable member for Leeds North West. Indeed


we have heard three other superb maiden speeches to date for the


members for Croydon Central, and Barnsley. His House is renewing


itself with huge talent, youth, energy and diversity. Across all


sides, and that is something which all members of this House can be


very proud to see. Madam Deputy Speaker, the Grenfell Tower fire was


the worst residential fire in modern history. The worst disaster of any


kind for about 30 years in this country. The truth of the matter is,


fire, residential fire, not an equal opportunities killer. In north-west


London, I know from history in my own constituency and Kensington, we


have had a spate of the worst fires of modern history before Grenfell we


have the fire in which eight people died, 100 made homeless. In 1989


people died in a fire for homeless women in Kilburn. Shortly before


that seven people died in a fire in interconnected property in Maida


Vale. All of the larger scale fires, residential fires had something in


common. They affected the lowest income people. They affected people


in the worst kind of housing. They cannot and should not be prejudging


the results of the Grenfell enquiry, as to how the fire started and


spread so quickly. The conclusions we can drop, it is substandard


housing at risk, it is the poorest people living in substandard


housing. They need to be protected. There is an issue power Madam Deputy


Speaker, a rest now. Does not need to wait until the findings of the


enquiry. Much can be legislated for immediately. Many of the suggestions


we have heard this afternoon, in terms of the issuing of building


regulations. And of guidance. The lessons learned. We can legislate


immediately, redressing power between landlord and tenant. That


can be done by giving statutory powers, hearing their voice in a way


we know tragically the voices of the Grenfell Tower residents were not


hurt. We can strengthen the power and the redressing tenants in both


social and private housing in respect of substandard


accommodation. Reference has been made to legal aid in this context.


It is absolutely right we should been looking at the capacity of


tenants to be able to draw upon the collate to represent their cases as


well as in substandard accommodation. Will the minister be


committing to date to reviewing all the scope for legislation, in terms


of fire safety and building regulations. Also in terms of the


rights of redressing conservation for tenants. None of which is


prejudged by the Grenfell Tower enquiry, all of which progress can


be made immediately. Madam Deputy Speaker, homelessness and housing


needs are not equal opportunities in factors. They affect is


proportionately the poorest people in the country. In the course of the


last week, we have had increasingly harsh judgments on part of the


media, what has happened to Grenfell residents, and how the housing needs


are being met. Their housing needs do not exist in a vacuum. They face


in the context of London seeing rising homelessness crises again.


The number of families accepted as famous as increased by more than


half. Children on a scale not seen for over, since the early part of


the last decade, living their lives in temporary accommodation. I asked


the housing minister before I would like to know the housing minister


can answer this question today, how many of the occupants of Grenfell


Tower have already been through the homelessness system? We know they


were residents actually living in temporary accommodation in that


building already. We know many of the families will have been through


the horrific experience of homelessness already. We know


families and friends and neighbours will have done so. They will be


aware one of the worst experiences of homelessness in the country. We


know it has the worst record in the country, of moving home is how cells


away from the borough. And that families in temporary accommodation


will find the word temporary is not the word we understand it to be. It


means that people will live for many years, sometimes a decade or in


temporary accommodation moving from one home to another. They will do


anything to avoid that experience yet again. Families should not be


expected to move more than once. And have an absolute right to know that


their housing needs will be met swiftly, but also fairly and


decently. Because this does not exist in a


vacuum that housing need should not be met at the expense of other


vulnerable homeless households. It is already the case that in


neighbouring borough the allocations process has slowed and at some cases


stopped, hopefully temporarily, whilst presidents is rightly given


at the moment to Grenfell survivors. But that cannot be allowed to stand


over the medium term. We have to know and have a categorical


assurance from the Minister that families will not in other boroughs


and, indeed, Kensington, who also homeless and in housing need, be


pushed to the back of the queue and have their needs are met because the


council and the Government are not working together to meet the needs


of all of their families. While on the issue of equal


opportunities, we also know the story of investment in local


services is not a fair and equal opportunities one. Urban authorities


have been hardest hit by Government cuts in local authority expenditure


since 2010. On present trends, by the end of the decade, funding for


local Government will have fallen by 70%. That has to be understood in a


context of the measures that local authorities want to take and to


assure their residents that they are taking in respect of fire safety in


the high-rise blocks. It is simply not satisfactory for the Minister in


his opening remarks to tell us that only local authorities demonstrating


they cannot afford to meet high Democrat fire safety works will be


reimbursed, what message does that sound too anxious residents who want


to know their safety is paramount? What clarity can the Minister gave


about what forms of recommendations from the fire Brigade regarding fire


safety will meet the criteria by the Government to fund that? Will the


Minister confirm he understands that any expenditure met by local


authorities will come from tenants and leaseholders and that will


certainly be in competition with the resources needed to fund repairs and


maintenance elsewhere in the system? I have already quoted the figure,


basic repairs and maintenance of social housing was 9.7% lower this


year than last year and 22% lower than it was in 2010. Finally, in


respect of other services as well, we are hearing great work being done


by mental health and health services in the borough, much needed to work


with survivors and local residents. Will they also be fully funded and


reimbursed by central government so that mental health and other


services that Kensington and the surrounding boroughs will not be put


at risk all compromised in any way because of stepping up to the plate


of those crucial public services? And my final point is this, we also


heard from the Minister in his opening remarks that there was a


fundamental lack of clarity about the task force is being sent into


Kensington, what it was going to do and what it duties were going to be.


But it will not be an authority with any executive function whatsoever.


Can the Minister be absolutely clear in saying to us what this means?


What it means is won the gold operation finishes the functions of


servers will be handed back to the already deeply discredited


Kensington and Chelsea Council, where the trust has already totally


collapsed. Does the Minister find that acceptable? I doubt that the


people of Kensington will, so powerfully set out already by my


friend the member for Kensington. I do not think they trust the task


force, I think they want to see the Government demonstrating there will


be a radically different approach to meeting their needs. We have not


heard that yet, the Minister has the chance to put that right later. To


make her maiden speech, Joe Platt. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker for


allowing me to make my maiden speech following my honourable friend the


Westminster North and within this important debate. The tragedy of


Grenfell was felt all over the nation. I am sure I speak for all of


my constituency who send their thoughts and prayers to all those


affected and similarly want a swift and timely response from the


investigation into the events of that terrible night. The community


surrounding Grenfell want answers, if we have learned anything from


past tragedies, the voice of the community must be given paramount


attention. Madam Deputy Speaker, I would firstly like to pay tribute to


the people of Leigh for placing their that trust in me to stand here


is their first female member of Parliament. This is made more


important is the fast approach 100 years of unbroken Labour


representation for the people of Leigh. I would like to thank my


family for all their support. My mother, father, sisters, especially


my two children, the drivers for my political ambition. As a single


mother from a working-class background, wanting what is best for


them is wanting what is best for the future of everyone within our


country. Without them I would not be stood here today. Leigh always


benefited from its strong Labour voices that it elects to this house.


With that in mind I would like to pay tribute to my predecessors,


Harold Boardman, Lawrence Cunliffe and, of course, my most recent


predecessor, Andy Burnham. Andy served this house with commitment


for 16 years. His work on the Hillsborough disaster and more


recently the contaminated blood scandal, his strength and passion


for truth and justice will forever be his legacy. This is something I


can only aspire to emulate. But it was not just this how that benefited


from Andy's work. And he was a formidable constituency MP, forging


great relationships within our communities, fighting tirelessly for


those that did not have a voice and the constantly pushing for


regeneration of the constituency, driving projects like the creation


of Leigh sports Village, the home to the best rugby league team in the


country, Leigh centurions. I am sure this house will want to wish Andy


Burnham every success in his role as Greater Manchester mayor. I am in no


doubt that he will use his position to ensure that devolution is used to


enhance the lives of everyone within Greater Manchester. Madam Deputy


Speaker, Leigh and its people have always had a sense of social


justice. From towns that lie within such as Tildesley, Atherton and the


smaller villages of Mosley Common etc, each with an historic story to


tell. From early focus on agriculture and the controversial


creation of the spinning Jenny, as with most places in the North gave


way to the might of the Industrial Revolution, in particular coal and


cotton, all linked by the canal network. The legacy of Leigh's


industrial past can be seen in the remaining red brick mills and the


iconic mining gear in Astley, which is sadly the last remaining one in


the whole of Lancashire. Fortunately the good people of Leigh want to


keep this alive and I look forward to the Heritage Project linking hole


at Astley via the canal to the great cotton mill of the Leigh spinners.


With most post-industrial areas we have seen years of decline. Our


manufacturing industry garnered not replaced, infrastructure like the


rail taken away and town centres declining. It is a common story


shared by many constituencies. Social mobility is a huge problem


for young people in Leigh, for those unable to get support to go to


college or university. With the lack of post-16 education leaving young


people are only able to access low paid, low skilled jobs. We should


ensure that new industries and skills should be at the forefront of


regeneration in Leigh. Madam Deputy Speaker, I have spent the last six


years elected as a councillor in local government. I have watched


this government's austerity measures chipped away at essential public


services. Cuts to adult social care and children services is nothing but


an attack on the most vulnerable in society. But I have also seen local


authorities and communities fight back. Supporting and empowering the


very people it serves. I am proud to have been part of the innovative way


that services have dealt with such measures, supporting communities by


doing what they have always done in times of crisis, supporting each


other. Just like in the 1980s miners' strike and just as they are


now. From homeless shelters, food banks, countless volunteers that


want to keep our heritage alive. This is what you call a social


movement. Communities working tirelessly to ensure each other are


supported. Today I would like to pay tribute to those that give their


time to do such work. My own experience of education in the 1980s


was not good. Of course, in my school there were many success


stories, but many struggled without adequate support and without being


equipped to face the challenges of the changing economic landscape.


Many left school without qualifications, ambitions and hope.


Today our children and young people face the same challenges, from cuts


to early years, the cuts to early intervention grants and cuts to do


well. We cannot afford to see our children suffer because of ignorance


to the challenges faced by our more deprived communities, and I will do


all I can to ensure that all aspects of our children's lives are


adequately supported. Madam Deputy Speaker, I am proud to stand amongst


Labour colleagues, alongside our men and women and in particular the new


intake. All sporting their individual regional accents. How


refreshing! I am proud of my working class roots and of those that built


the very area I now represent. When we talk about standing on the


shoulders of giants, these are the Giants I wish to tribute myself too.


Let's not forget that there are giants now who are also making


history. I stand side by side with them. Our WASPI women, are miners


fighting for lost pensions, are veterans who is still not receiving


the support they are owed once they leave service. Our disabled and sick


who have been Ajer -- unfairly treated by our systems, and our


public services, the police, fire servers, NHS and schools. These are


the backbone of our communities and what these representatives amidst


continued to stand up for. To conclude, there is no reason for


people in Leigh or anywhere to ensure the insecurities they face


now. It is a choice, H Rose to defend our communities and public


services that I have been sent to fight for on behalf of the people of


Leigh -- a choice to defend our communities. Thank you.


Chris Elmore. I am not sure if this has been planned or not but it is


nice as the regional web for the honourable member of the Leeds to


congratulate her on a wonderful speech, she obviously has big shoes


to fill but it is clear she will be more than able to fill them and she


will be a credit to this house and the people of Leigh.


Thank you for letting me speak in this debate. Can I start by adding


my thanks to the emergency services and their bravery in the Grenfell


Tower fire, and also my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the people


who lost their lives, their families and the people who have lost their


homes. In the brief time I will take to speak I want to focus on an issue


I firmly believe has not received enough attention in the aftermath of


the fire. Since the fire last month the media, we in this house and the


wider public have sought answers for what cause such a disaster. In doing


so, cladding, individuals and the local authority have taken much of


the blame. But in today's debate I rise to highlight the role that


installation could have played in the hope that both this House and


the inquiry will consider the consequences of flammable insulation


rather than inflammable alternatives -- I wish to highlight the role that


installation could have played. Grenfell Tower was insulated with a


foam product which is known as PIR. PIR is flammable. In small-scale


tests the material appears to limit its combustibility, and a genuine


fire conditions it is nothing short of compostable. The second issue is


when it is ignited, PIR releases toxic, deadly fumes, the most


notorious of which is hydrogen cyanide, the toss -- toxic substance


is confirmed as being treated from a number of Grenfell survivors. In the


vast market of insulation there are many alternatives to PIR. The key


point is that installation has been developed which is simply not


combustible. Insulation engineered could have saved lives and Gretel


and many of the previous fires. The two key problems with foam


insulation Mike PIR are completely avoidable stone wall. It is not


compostable solute does not encourage or spread fire.


It does not create the problem of toxic product inhalation.


Instructors are aware of using foam or fibreglass products. They cannot


find the funds to use non-combustible. I am not suggesting


private developers should be legally bound to develop of a particular


type of installation. They are commercial decisions, and those


decisions for those businesses and developers. What I would hope is


that those businesses would put public safety at the heart of


whatever they are constructing in the public sector. In social


housing, there is, and in many members opinions, housing to protect


the most vulnerable. It should be the responsibility of government to


legislate that installation used on social housing is of a


noncombustible nature. Even this week I have placed written questions


to the House and the Department for Communities and Local Government,


asking what they will be doing to test for combustibility. The reply


from ministers if they are doing nothing, offering no testing, they


have no plans to. Today I have written to the conductor of enquiry


to asking what role installation will be playing in his report? The


government have treated it as an afterthought. Thank you Mr Deputy


Speaker. It is almost one month since the horrific tragedy which


took place Grenfell Tower, Kensington. I would like to take


this opportunity to offer my sympathies, along with my colleagues


who have added theirs, to all the individuals, and their which endure


this horrific ordeal, and the loss and uncertainty they have


encountered since. This has had an impact, as colleagues have said, far


beyond Kensington and London itself. In my constituency of Redditch,


there have been outpourings of sympathy, there have been practical


help offered. Residents are rallying around, organising donations of


goods and much-needed items to the victims. I do welcome the actions


that the government and local authority have taken so far,


including emergency funding made available. Andy Reid housing of the


surviving residents. I would call on the Minister today to confirm


everything is indeed being done to help the poor families who have


suffered and lost so much. Taking into account the needs of each


individual family, to make sure they have a home right for them to


rebuild their lives. I welcome the deployment of experienced civil


servants. We recognise this is a complex situation they are dealing


with. Supporting the council in their response. I welcome the


additional 1.5 million to assist on delivering mental health support to


victims. We can only imagine how devastating it must be for people


who are enduring that mental trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder


as they look to rebuild their lives. I welcome the funding to make sure


residents are included in the enquiry. That is my honourable


friend agree with me it is in the interests of the residents of


Grenfell, and their friends and families, and those who died that we


allow Sir Martin to start the enquiry, and get on with the job of


establishing the facts of the case before speculating further. It is


right that enquiry is launched, so we may learn from this terrible


incident, surely it is better to understand the events that led to


disaster and so prevent a similar tragedy from occurring again. We're


doing that in Redditch Borough Council, and I congratulate the


council for looking at an emergency disaster response that they have


reviewed and launched in response to the events. Even though we do not


have tower blocks. We recognise the impact on other public buildings,


including schools and hospitals, and I welcome that. As the Secretary of


State himself recognised, the national and local response was not


good enough in the aftermath. Processes must be rectified to


better support victims in the future. I would like to ask the


Minister to confirm again what steps the Department are taking to review


emergency planning procedures to insure responses in the future are


rapid and effective, giving proper support to victims. I am pleased to


see precautions and checks made by the Department for Communities and


Local Government, alongside the government property unit, to oversee


building regulations, and checks on wider public sector building. I was


deeply shocked and concerned by the incident of Grenfell Tower, leading


me to get assurances from Redditch Borough Council about the safety of


council owned housing. I may colleagues on both sides of the


House are doing the same. I was pleased to learn that all properties


within our borough contain cladding and installation certified and


installed to stringent national recommendations. I finish by calling


on the Secretary of State to consider reviewing building


regulations and fire safety procedures in light of the results


of the Grenfell Tower enquiry. This will help us to ensure current


regulations are up to date. Taking into account all the learning from


this tragedy. And that all efforts are continued to be made around the


country. Giving people living in tower blocks, or spending leisure


time or educational time in public buildings, leisure, community


centres, hospitals, schools, to ensure they are safe. Thank you Mr


Deputy Speaker. I'm glad to be able to contribute to the debate. I want


to start by congratulating my honourable friends making maiden


speeches. A pleasure to hear them. Especially my neighbour in greater


Manchester my honourable friend for I want to offer my deep condolences


to the victims of the Grenfell tragedy. Unimaginable horror for


those affected. When we first learned of it, just after the


general election, it seems to me everyone around the household,


especially ministers were horrified by the scale of what occurred. A


real sense of determination right across the House to act and ensure


nothing like this could happen again in our country. I don't question Mr


Deputy Speaker, ministers' deep sense of responsibility, and they


wish to make things different. The reality already, so quickly, we seem


to have lost the sense of impetus we seem ready be down in the mire of


uncertainty about who is responsible, when we are going to


have clarity about what will keep people safe, playing out amongst


tenants and leaseholders, in my community. We have 14 high-rise


blocks. Eight are owned by social landlords, seven Trafford housing


trust, the remainder are owned by a range of private companies, whose


names are frankly meaningless. I have no idea who owns them. We also


have major housing development going on in my constituency, and more,


when you hide my stocks are being constructive. We have a place for


good high-rise housing. If these new buildings are not being constructive


to the very highest of standards, that we should expect in the light


of Grenfell, and we're not sure what those standards should look like I


would suggest that the developer needs to be paused until we can be


confident about it. One of my social landlords said to me the other day,


when I asked how things felt, he said it is continuing to get worse.


What he meant was continuing and increasing uncertainty as more and


more things become unclear about the actions that need to be taken. I


recognise it is inordinately complex mix of factors to be considered, but


that is no use to landlords and tenants who are trying to make


decisions about how to act in response to concerns about safety. I


urge ministers to do everything they can to give clarity and certainty at


the highest common as soon as possible. First of all in relation


to cladding. We have a small number of blocks in Trafford partially


clad. For the cladding has failed the flammability tests. The


intention is to remove that cladding. That work is not yet


begun. Property owners cannot be sure in removing the cladding they


may not make the buildings even less safe. My honourable friend alluded


to concerns about installation. It is the intention of landlords to


have that installation tested. Can ministers saying now why it is the


case that the testing in installation is not being mandated


and put on the same footing with the same resources as the testing of


cladding? I find it quite inexcusable. Can I ask ministers,


what the results have been whether testing has been carried out?


Secondly in relation to sprinklers, absolutely clear across the House


the view is that sprinklers should be retrofitted. It would be helpful


to understand if ministers have a view, whether it may be appropriate


to install sprinkler systems on the outside of buildings as well is on


the inside. Whether any individual homes or common areas. An indication


of ministers' attitudes to those questions would be helpful.


Similarly with fire escapes, do ministers have view whether planning


legislation could accommodate the possibility that additional external


escapes may be needed in some buildings. Is there advice to be


given on alarm systems, the level of safety checks that landlords should


be carrying out. Advice as to whether people should be staying put


in flats, or leaving in the event of a reported fire. What assessment is


being made as to whether remedial activity may exclude dangers. In


relation to asbestos? Ministers have particular obligations working with


asbestos safety first can we have absolute clarity, I am not clear, I


know that landlords are not clear about the precise nature of the


responsibility of the Fire Service and the landlords. Are the Fire


Service giving advice? Which landlords need to weigh up, how to


interpret or act on. Is the Fire Service advice men that I am not


clear, landlords are not clear. Can they give us clarity? The assurance


we have been getting from ministers is pretty opaque. Here's landlords


and councils are not able to meet the costs, ministers and government


will work with them. That really tells us nothing. We cannot have the


tenants bearing these costs. We cannot expect leaseholders to bear


them. Social landlords and councils will run out of money as they put


the rent and measures in place. Ministers need to say really


clearly, they will underwrite costs as a minimum. The last resort for


funding, not working with landlords, that funding measures will be met by


central government. Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to mention a


couple of other aspects of the risks identified, and the questions


landlords in particular are asking me this first of all in relation to


the removal of cladding, that is happening across greater Manchester


and the country. Happening during summer months when the warmth and


protective effects of the cladding on the standards of decency in those


homes is not a major issue. Come the winter, if we have not replace


cladding with new means of keeping homes warm and dry, we're likely to


see a rise in cold, damp homes. Respiratory illness, and the


problems we see in our constituency surgeries all the time. And of


course, extra costs for householders, going to spend this


winter turning up the heating. Many of those householders are


relatively low incomes. It would be helpful of ministers could indicate


now that where it has not been possible to make those homes warm


and dry again in time for winter there will be held for tenants to


meet heating bills, because they will need that assurance otherwise,


as we know, the poorer stand elderly tenants will simply turn off


heating, as great Peshmerga at great risk to the health and well-being.


My final point, the position of vulnerable tenants, particularly in


sheltered accommodation. We know there are, thankfully not my


constituency but in some parts of greater Manchester, sheltered blocks


which are high-rise. We know that even low rate sheltered housing is,


is one of my social landlords put it to me, basically a tower block


turned on its side. There are many, many vulnerable tenants in large


sheltered housing accommodation. We need the Government to work with


landlords on strategies, particularly to protect vulnerable


tenants, whether in dedicated sheltered accommodation or not. Mai


tai asked ministers to give particular consideration to one I


admit very contentious issue, that data sharing. One of the things I


was told in the immediate aftermath of Grenfell Tower, as my social


landlords began to take action to make the premises safe and offer


assurances to tenants, as they didn't know not only who was in a


free flat but what particular vulnerabilities those tenants might


have. So far as possible information is being shared across social


services, with schools, with NHS commissioners and others, but there


are obviously real difficulties and sensitivities in doing that. Could I


say to ministers, because I know the Government and ministers are


bringing forward a data protection Bill in the course of this


Parliament, that this is an opportunity to think carefully and


constructively about getting a balance that respects individual


privacy and data but allows for appropriate access when that is


important for health, safety and the preservation of life, and I hope


that will be fed in as ministers begin to develop the legislation.


This appalling atrocity has the potential to bring some good out of


it, only if ministers maintain the determination and resolve we saw in


the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. I asked them, for the sake


of those who have died and those who have lost family members, and those


living today in tower blocks or those who will in future, you must


take on that responsibility. Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I


would like to congratulate honourable members who have made


such powerful maiden speeches today, including in particular might south


London constituency neighbours, the honourable members the Lewisham West


and pension and Croydon Central, with whom I look forward for working


on the issues that affect all our constituents in south London. The


Grenfell Tower fire was an unspeakable howler which --


unspeakable horror which became an unimaginable tragedy for many people


who lost parents, sisters, brothers, children, friends, the fabric of


their lives, the basis of verse acuity and community. My thoughts


are with all those affected by such devastating loss and, indeed, over


the past month, it has often been hard to think about anything else.


The fire has had a profound impact on all those directly affected but


also the wider community in Kensington and in London and on the


country as a whole. The first priority must, of course, be help


and support for five-year survivors to access new homes within their


existing communities -- for survivors of the fire to access new


homes within their existing communities which provide the


support they need and help them to rebuild their lives. The consequence


of the Grenfell Tower fire from residents across the country has


been a colossal loss of confidence and trust. Because somewhere along


the line, the systems, regulations, standards, inspections and emergency


procedures put there to keep people safe have failed to do so. There


have been two fires in tower blocks in my constituency since the


Grenfell Tower fire and I was on site on one of those occasions as


the fire broke out. The level of anxiety and fear that residents in


tower blocks fear at the moment cannot be overstated. In working to


ensure that such a tragedy can never happen again, the Government must


focus on how confidence and trust can be rebuilt so that residents of


tower blocks across the country can rest easy again without any shadow


of a doubt that the framework of governance, regulation and


inspection men to keep them safe can do so. I was elected as a councillor


in the London Borough of Southwark and 2010, the year after the Lakanal


House fire, part of a new administration of the Council,


picking up the pieces after the devastating tragedy in which six


people lost their lives. Fire safety was the council's top priority.


Every block was subject to rigorous fire risk assessment, starting with


the tallest blocks and working down, the council spent more than ?60


million in fire safety works. Fire safety is an ongoing responsibility


which must be monitored and assessed constantly, so I do not suggest


there is room for complacency in Southwark or there is not more to


do, but the level of commitment to ensure that the Lakanal could not


happen again was crystal clear. Lakanal House should have been the


wake-up call nudges for a single borough but for the country as a


whole. -- not just for a single borough. The fact it was not lives


in a lack of political will and commitment by Government ideological


recommitted to deregulation at all cost and reducing public


expenditure, and in seven years of deep cuts to local and central


Government and emergency services. The obsession with deregulation is


illustrated in the words of the Housing minister in 2013 who said


following advice from the Lakanal House coroner that the Government


should consider progressing the installation of sprinkler systems


all tower blocks, we believe it is the responsibility of the fire


industry rather than the Government to market fire spread the systems


effectively and to encourage their wider installation. What utter


nonsense. It is the responsibility of Government to keep people safe.


This requires a framework of regulation and funding, not a


private marketing campaign for sprinkler -- for sprinklers. It is


the same ideological driven approach to deregulation which has resulted


in the review of building regulations called for by the


Lakanal House coroner to be left in the long grass football years. There


are multiple problems to address with the regulatory framework. Fire


risk assessments can be undertaken by anyone, there is no requirement


for any minimal level of qualification, expertise or


registration and the requirement for independence. There is no minimum


requirement for the number of building control inspections which


have to be undertaken during construction works, allowing defects


to be built and then covered up in between inspections. The PPG for


excellence in the built environment published a report a year ago which


highlighted this issue. It said that we are concerned that competition


and building control might fuel a race to the bottom and we therefore


recommend a defined minimum number of inspections. There has been no


action from the Government on this issue. Building control inspections


can be self procured from private providers setting up a contractual


relationship between construction contractors building control


inspectors, which lacks independence and can therefore be compromised.


The Government cannot pretend that austerity is not part of the


problem. There has been a huge loss of local authority capacity due to


cuts to council budgets, planning and building control is the second


most severely cut area of expenditure across local authority


services and there has been a huge loss of capacity in DC are cheap and


within the emergency services. So it is clear that even without the


conclusions of a public inquiry, there are actions the Government can


and must take now to rebuild the trust of residents living in tower


blocks, acting on advice already received and information already


known. There must be a complete overhaul of the fire safety


inspection regime, responsibility must be restored to the Fire Service


on a completely independent and statutory footing and cuts to the


Fire Service must be reversed to enable them to fulfil this role.


There must be a complete overhaul of building regulations, as called for


by the Lakanal House coroner four years ago, and its recommendations


must apply to existing buildings, as well as new builds. Residents must


be given a voice. The Government must provide urgent clarity on the


safety of cladding products of all types, not just aluminium composite


cladding and insulation, including advice on safe replacements for


panels which need to be removed and specifications for new buildings


and, importantly, there must be new rights for residents and high-rise


blocks with concerns about fire safety to trigger an independent


inspection, the outcome of which has statutory weight. Finally, the


government must stop playing semantic games around the funding


for fire safety works arising as a consequence of the Grenfell Tower


fire. In response to a written question I submitted last week on


this matter, necessary to ensure the safety of social housing, we will


ensure that a lack of financial roads, where work is necessary to


ensure the safety of social housing, we will ensure that a lack of


financial resources or not? He will make the decision? Grenfell Tower


came out of the blue and the steps to put it right cannot be at the


expense of planned maintenance or major works or the delivery of


urgently needed new homes. The Government must make a firm


commitment to fund fire safety works, sprinkler systems and the


replacement of cladding required in response to grant -- to Grenfell


Tower, and it must make it as a matter of urgency. I call on the


Government to begin addressing the fears that communities across the


country has because of Grenfell Tower, and restoring trust and


confidence in the systems which are there to protect people. The


memories of those who lost their lives must be respected and honoured


by making absolutely certain that such a tragedy can never happen


again. Jim Fitzpatrick. I'm very pleased to follow my honourable


friend from Dulwich and West Norwood for her typically thoughtful


contribution in this important debate. I am pleased to have had the


chance to listen to maiden speeches from colleagues from Leeds North


West, Leigh, Croydon Central, Barnsley East and Lewisham West and


Penge. I was trying to think of the collective noun for a gaggle of


maiden speeches, on this occasion it is a feast, we have had a feast of


maiden speeches. Their constituencies -- their constituents


must be proud already and I know they will work hard to repay


confidence shown in my honourable friend is in the months and years


ahead. The first secretary in his contribution referred to the


guidance and approve documents be, an essential element of the building


regulations. He said the expert panel would advise the Secretary of


State and I wish to ask about this issue. Speaking for Her Majesty's


opposition, I made comment on this aspect of matters relevant to


Grenfell, he said Government can start with the overhaul of building


regulations now up and feed into the public inquiry recommendations


afterwards which, in my view, is the right approach. I raise the terms of


reference for the public inquiry two weeks ago, recorded in Hansard, when


I said it would be very helpful if the minister gave the house any


details of white -- of what might be known about the inquiry. Issues


include the source of the fire, the rapidity of the spread, the


catastrophic failure of the protection features the building


should have contained, the refurbishment of the building and


the materials used, as well as the quality of work and the finish, the


monitoring of building control, the inspection of the completed job, the


designated responsible person and the role of the Fire Services. I


raise the question of the outstanding review of the building


regulations guidance on fire is contained in approve documents be


and the recommendation of an urgent review by the Lakanal House coroner


in 2013. There is no statutory timetable laid down for a periodic


review of the guidance, as I said at the time and I mentioned in my


earlier question to the first secretary when he opened the debate.


In my debate I asked about building regulations, in response, in column


436 the minister said Astor Lakanal House, I quote, the Government took


action on a number of areas following but fire, in particular DC


argy provided funding to enable the local Government Association, in


partnership with the housing sector and relevant authorities, to publish


new fire safety guidance for purpose-built flats and blocks in


2011. But guidance is still current. That raises a key question, if the


guidance is current and failed at Grenfell, one of two things must be


true. Either the guidance is not up to the job needs reviewing, or


alternatively the guidance is adequate but was ignored. I would


suggest this is the fundamental question that should be addressed by


the Independent expert advisory panel is announced by the Secretary


of State which contains a number of distinguished members. And I decided


cancer conned additional members for specific tasks. May I ask the


minister when he responds whether the panel has identified the


guidance and approve documents a of the fire regulations as a priority


piece of work that needs addressing, as its reviewers over Drew, as has


been mentioned a number of times today, last revised in 2006? Is the


Government awaits the outcome of the public inquiry and then starts the


review, give it will then take time for any working party to do its job


properly, the gap between the last revision and an updated approve


documents be will be at least 14 years, probably a lot longer.


Historically the reviews in the UK are usually about ten years apart.


In some countries it is less. Does the Minister agree this is too


lobbed a gap and does he agreed there should be a statutory


responsibility to review the guidelines and a set period of time


rather than just having it as a periodic review? Can I ask again


whether the expert panel has commented on this, if they have not


whether he will ask the question? On July the 3rd in response to the


above questions, the Secretary of State said to me the honourable


gentlemen makes an important point about building regulations and the


guidance on them. There will need to be changes and we need to look


carefully at the causes that affects so many buildings to fail the


guidance test. The expert panel has a wide remit, broadly to recommend


to Government immediately any action it thinks we should take that will


improve public safety, which validates my question is whether the


expert panel has recommended an immediate and urgent review, if the


answer is no, whether the Minister will ask them why they have arrived


at this conclusion. It is not just me raising these


questions. The Association of business architecture ought to make


colleague yesterday. They said the government should carry out the


following, bring forward the review of the document proposed by the


Minister for communities and local government. This follows the inquest


from the 2009 fire at Lakanal House. We think document be must be a clear


reappraisal and must be carried out without uncertainty. They also


raised sprinkler systems, which I also brought up in the debate, as


did other colleagues. The fire safety officer rates with regard to


document be. We also recommend suggesting increased protection for


sprinklers, in line with the current thinking on fire safety. This is one


part of the greater whole. It is not a complete decision. In support of


this, the Association of British insurers rate more directly. A


comprehensive review is urgently needed. The regulations in England


need to build type in and around buildings. We have been calling for


a comprehensive review of the document since 2009. My final source


is the London Fire Brigade itself. In briefing for this, on behalf of


the planning authority, the document has not been reviewed for some time,


which means it has not been kept up with British standards or a low-key


debate for sprinklers or other systems. We have been calling for


this to be reviewed and be regard this as a matter of urgency. So, the


Lakanal House coroner, the British Association of insurers, the Fire


Service. The fire protection Association. All of them agree on


the urgency of a review of document be. It is not the total solution,


but it needs to be done and it needs to be done though. If the work does


not start until after the enquiry, it could be as long as five years


before approval of Document B is approved. They say, we have set up


an expert panel set up to improve fire safety. I would be grateful of


the Minister could address the particular points I have raised,


with regard to Document B. As the advisory panel agreed on an instant


review of it? Do they think it would be appropriate to have an immediate


review of Document B? It has been said today that the majority of


people who die in fires in the pool, the old, the young and the sick. The


Grenfell Tower demonstrated that. We need regulations to protect people


in our buildings. Approved Document B As the cornerstone of what old


building safety is constructed. If we do not have reviewed, we are not


doing our duty here. I do not pretend to have his expertise. But I


thought the Minister will have less and. To ensure that the key element


of safety. I am the member for the neighbouring constituency. I have


many family ties in the constituent state in which Grenfell Tower is


located. Just yesterday, I found out that people living in the area just


to the sides of Grenfell Tower going to have to stay in Portakabins for


the year. I have a number of questions. The first is, who is in


charge? We have heard statements from a least five ministers from the


beginning of this debate. While a value the Prime Minister and others


contributing to this and the ordering of an early debate and the


fool public enquiry, I am afraid that since that happened, there has


been a degree of inaction. That does not give me any pleasure. I would


ask the Minister, who is the Minister taking overall


responsibility here? Is there a role for a List of designated to deal


specifically with this tragedy? We often of a Minister dealing with


national disasters. This is a disaster which has ramifications


above that over time. On a national level, it is even more confusing in


Kensington and Chelsea. What has happened in the borough has been


appalling. First we had the chief executive for London bus to protect


his political masters. We then heard a leader who should of gone as soon


as it was clear the disaster effort was a disaster in itself. He even


said" purported feel years". We even then had a new leader. -- feel


years. I am afraid I do not think she is up to the job either. I have


them on the radio this morning to say she had not been in the


high-rise council blocks before. She has been a councillor for at least


11 years. I cannot think of the hundreds of times I have visited all


sorts of accommodation around the borough. How could you not, in all


honesty, not have visited flats. She said she might have been canvassing


the, but he had never been inside. I do not want to personalise this, but


this is clearly somebody who isn't out of touch with the people she is


trying to represent. If she cannot represent the people, then I think


that is why he read the solution was available. It is what many people


want to see. People want to see commissioners going in. They have


done it before. There is a suspicion here that there is a blockage


preventing this happening. That is an obvious course of action. Instead


we have got this hybrid solution whereby a task force which was


clarified by the Secretary of State earlier on, a task force advisory


group which does not report to the people in charge but is still the


same old bosses in Kensington and Chelsea, how is that any way a


recipe for clarity and judgment within Kensington and Chelsea? Who


are these people in the task force? We do not know who they are? We do


not know the terms of reference. We do not know if they have visited the


borough over a period of time. It all smacks, the steely and


prevarication, a hallmark of dealing with the aftermath of this. I ask


the Minister, as far as they are able to clarify today, who is the


Minister who will take responsibility? I am sure we would


give them that support. It took about a week before he realised what


he disaster the Kensington management team were. Things did


start to improve. But the only started to improve. We are still not


entirely clear. I remember my own chief executive in Hammersmith was


on the phone at six o'clock in the morning and I know that was true of


many other London boroughs. Accommodation was offered, offers


officers were offered, assistance was offered. For the simply not


returned. There was no coordination of the services. What appeared to be


a better situation a week later was not quite all it seemed. I will give


you an example of that. When I went down to speak to a group of


survivors who are no any hotel in film, the tool be a very differing


stories. Every single family has a different story. Some had been made


housing offers, others have not. Somewhat tall because they were not


tenants, they would not have the housing officer. Some were given key


workers, somewhat belatedly. Some only had key workers in the sense


that someone would occasionally ring them from head the numbers that they


could not get back in touch with. And the question -- the worker would


often not answer the questions they wanted. Some had been given money,


some had not. One family member may be going down one day and been


giving money and another family member going down the next day and


been refused. This to people who were already living free all the


positions had been destroyed and suffering at best,, from the fire.


At worst, losing friends and relations in the fire. They were


then stuck in hotels for a month. The hotel I visited, I have to


congratulate the job the hotel manager and staff had done in


accommodating and welcoming them. But you cannot have these people in


a small budget hotel. They had no change of clothes, no money. Hall


firmly one room. In several cases, local residents in Hammersmith gave


them food, local businesses give them food and cleaning materials.


But this was all on an ad hoc basis. How can that be happening in our


capital city in the 21st-century? If things are getting better, they are


only getting better slowly. People were asked to go to places


that were substantial travelling distance from school places of work,


offers of accommodation as we heard earlier for disabled people would


did not have disabled access in one case an elderly lady I spoke to


could not get into the toilet at the place she was offered. Is that


reasonable to refuse an offer of accommodation like that? I think it


is. It goes further. I would ask them and to put himself in the


position, imagine his house burned down, even without the trauma


associated with Grunfeld Tower, what you would expect is the insurance


company would put him up in a like-for-like accommodation in a


similar area, would ensure he can continue his life as best he could


and would restore that property and move him back in or give him an


equivalent alternative property. I don't see why the residents of


Grunfeld Tower should get any less, even if the assistance has to come


from the state rather than the insurance company so let's not


pretend they're doing people favours by offering them permanent


accommodation or like-for-like accommodation some of the


accommodation around Grenfell we should be proud it was built in the


1960s and 70s. Good space, light, airy, plenty of room, why should


those people be given anything less than that as an alternative when


they have suffered so much all ready? It brings me on to the wider


issue of housing. There was an interesting piece on the today


programme looking at the options for long-term rehousing for the people


from Grenfell. And they went through half a dozen and they with these, it


is quite revealing. Firstly, they could be given, put at the top of


the waiting list in Kensington and the problem with that is there is


only about eight units coming up per week and most of those are small


flats, one-bedroom flats, nobody mentioned the fact that if in doing


so you would be displacing everybody else on the housing waiting list for


years and years but because of the small number that was ruled out,


what about the private rented sector, the residential landlords


Association said actually private rented accommodation is completely


different form of tenure, no security and often there are


mortgage lenders attached conditions which means tenants are benefits


tenants who want longer tendencies are not eligible to take that


accommodation. What about redeveloping, the state regeneration


which is often used by councils such as Kensington to reduce the quantity


of social housing, again it was said most estates in London are all ready


at high density and only limited additional units you can put in now.


One novel suggestion was to use the big development sites in my


constituency at White city to temporarily house people, this is


interesting, I would welcome new social housing being built on the


big development sites in my constituency and I'm sure we would


welcome as part of that people from Grenfell as well but this wasn't


being offered, what was suggested as temporary housing accommodation on a


building site for three to five years until they could be moved on


and luxury housing could be built in its place as originally planned. The


68 units in Kensington Row have been mentioned a number of times and


initially there was an inflammatory article in the Guardian or the other


residents of this large luxury development said they did not want


people like the Grunfeld tenants living cheek by jowl with them.


Whatever misinformation that led to that story, the Kensington very


flats on offer are not luxury flats, not the ?1 million one-bedroom flats


which is characterises that development. They are existing


affordable housing units which would have been used for people who cannot


afford market rates certainly draws attention to the fact that in most


cases Grenfell tenants are going to be offered existing social housing


so it is social housing tenants generally, people existing council


house -- housing on the waiting list which is very long and West London


who will be subsidising the relief effort for Grenfell. I do not think


that is right. The six option, why not buy some units of accommodation,


that was ruled out because units were accommodation, two-bedroom flat


in Kensington costs about ?600,000. Well, Kensington and Chelsea has


?300 million in its balances it has been stashing away and if anyone


thinks it is controversial to change units between the social housing


market, Hammersmith Council whether conservatives were running it was


selling off its social housing on the open market as it became empty


for nearly half million per unit so what is good for the goose if you


can sell it off you can buy it. So why not give a clear instruction to


Kensington Council and I suggest he goes and listens to be interview the


leader gave a superb piece of interviewing skill which at the


fourth or fifth time of asking after trying to dodge the question on


every occasion, eventually the leader Kensington and Chelsea


Council said yes, they would buy some units but I hope he listens to


that and hold sadder that promise and we start getting permanent


decent adequate housing for the people who have suffered at Grenfell


and sooner rather than later. And what this shines a light on as well


is the wider crisis in social housing in this country. If we can't


find social housing units for the two to 300 families who have been


displaced from Grenfell, how are we going to come near to resolving the


housing crisis particularly in high-value areas because the other


story that has been doing the rounds in inner London is Battersea Power


Station. Were in development 4200 properties, the developer has


successfully persuaded Wandsworth Council to reduce the affordable


homes from 686 to 386, by 40% sober now represent 9% of the development,


that is the truth of Conservative policies on affordable housing in


London and this is an opportunity for the minister to say in the case


of Grenfell and the wider case that is no longer going to be the case.


As a final issue, I will not dwell on this but the issue of safety in


the widest sense has to be resolved and it cannot be resolved over the


timescale of the public enquiry. Early action has to be taken. The


chair and secretary of the all-party Parliamentary group for fire safety


has spoken ready in the debate and mentions the expert advice who has


made a number of clear points which she wishes us to put to the


minister, the first is in relation to approved document B which has


been dealt extensively and the fact that needs to be revised and will


need clarity in relation to the whole issue of construction and


external cladding, we're not talking other type of cladding, we're


talking about all forms of cladding, we are talking about insulation, and


how that is fitted and in particular we are talking about what is the


effect of fire, not as done on a desktop computer or on a small piece


of cladding but what happens when a real building burns when it has


cladding of that kind of awesome external modification of that kind?


And the London building act is to say, which were a repeal in 1986,


and replaced with a weaker form of legislation, that you needed to have


an hour retardation of fire, why can we not go back to those standards,


why can we not have that clarity because there is a huge amount of


testing that needs to be done, it is not just the minor areas of testing


of a minority of a particular type of cladding. That is only one issue.


The issue of sprinklers and I wish the minister and his colleagues


would stop saying that they did what the Lakanal House coroner said, he


put forward a recommendation that this matter should be looked at


and/or the government did was it on that local did not have... I will


give way. Does he agree with me that this government should stick to


introduce the legislation we all ready have in Labour run Wales on


sprinklers and the installation of sprinklers? I absolutely do and we


can learn from the devolved administrations in relation to this.


I think it is reasonable words for the minister to say, the coroner did


not insist we did that, the coroner cannot insist, the coroner gave a


clear indication and the government dodged the issue and I think that


should be revisited. As should be the issue of who inspections -- as


inspections because it is not just about cladding, it is about fire


alarms and means of escape and maintenance and access for emergency


vehicles and we may find out in the course of the public enquiry that


all of these factors at Grenfell but what we need to do is not wait for


that because my constituents who live in tower blocks cannot sleep


easily in their beds at night until they know they are living as they


thought they were in entirely safe buildings. And also that they knew


what they were supposed to do in case of fire. The minister does have


a long agenda to tackle but let me make one final point, one he is


taking interesting, the cause of the fire was once again a white goods


manufactured by one of the whirlpool companies which caused an illogical


fire in a fridge freezer just as my constituency last year one of the


known fire risk white goods, and intercept tumble dryer caught fire


causing a substantial tower block fire. When will the government start


tackling these issues of registration of white goods, of


collecting data which are safe and unsafe, of recalling products when


there are shown to be dangerous and releasing the risk assessments that


currently can scandalously are not revealed on grounds of


confidentiality for the companies who manufacture the goods. It is


another whole area of investigation but one which is long overdue and


all though much of the attention around Grenfell concentrates around


the spread of fire that Fai would never have got outside had it not


started in a fridge freezer which we still do not know because the


government has not said whether the tests are complete, whether it was a


design fault and whether it is the construction of a particular model


that allowed the fire to take hold. I had the points I've made of


relevant, I hope they are matters of the public enquiry to consider, I


say a number cannot wait until that time and certainly the relief and a


rehousing of the people who have been displaced by the Grenfell fire


cannot wait any longer. I hope we do not come back here in September and


October and find nothing has changed. I know my honourable friend


the member for Kensington and I pay tribute to her because she was


thrown in at the deep end here in no uncertain fashion and she has risen


absolutely to that challenge. She is a strong and powerful advocate for


her community, she cannot do it on her own, this is a job both locally


and nationally for government to take hold of and we must not forget


this terrible tragedy which has blighted our country and which we do


not learn the lessons of it will recur again. Thank you, Mr Deputy


Speaker. Can I say what a pleasure it is to be back on the green


benches speaking on behalf of my constituents in Derby North after a


two and forced sabbatical and before I speak about the debate we are


considering today, I should say a few words about my predecessor who


took my seat off me by 41 votes in 2015, Amanda Soloway, she was an


unusual and unlikely Conservative party candidate coming from humble


origins and had herself experienced homelessness in early part of her


life. She made it her business to highlight the plight of homeless


people and saw to draw attention to that really important issue that


scars our country, the fifth richest nation on the planet.


Another big issue she fought very hard on was mental wealth. --


health. She wanted to make sure more resources were put forward to it.


Really fair to the excellent maiden speeches made today and sought to


find a collective known and came up with the feast of maiden speeches. I


would she his few of these maiden speeches. Oliver made it excellent


contributions today. I am sure they will go on to make a good


contribution in this place for as long as they are here. The question


of the catastrophic fire that occurred at Grenfell Tower. Its


origins I think can be traced back, it must be said, to the neoliberal


doctrine inflicted on our country back in 1979. It has disfigured our


public services over the years. A big feature of this approach has


been deregulation, privatisation and cuts. The deregulation has led to a


situation where combustible materials have perfectly


legitimately been specified unused on the Grenfell Tower and many other


colour blocks around the country. How can that possibly be? When you


take into account the fact that in addition to using combustible


materials on a tower block, you add that into the mix a move towards


compulsory competitive tendering, which was brought into the public


realm nearly 40 years ago. That is where the cheapest place was what


was looked at. That happened when any services were being external


eyes. How could the maintenance of our public realm and our housing


stock be privatised and put out to the private sector? At the work


being done properly and had there been fire officers at every four is


there should've been, the fire would have been contained. It would've


been contained within the floor we the fire started. The combination of


the compulsory competitive tendering, the business friendly


inspection regime that was brought in, all these things have culminated


in a situation where we have seen this appalling, catastrophic fire


which are seen so many people lose their lives. What has happened when


we look at the cuts which have been imposed, you see the number of fire


safety inspectors that have been taken out of the system. Depending


on which fire authority you're talking about, between 75 and 60% of


fire safety inspectors have been removed. No, the Fire and rescue


authorities are not able to actually undertake the safety checks the use


to be able to do as a matter of course. This cut corners approach we


have seen during the last few decades has ultimately led to this


appalling fire. We had an exchange earlier on in the debate, Mr Deputy


Speaker, about the approach as far as students are concerned. This


situation is this that the legislation requires for new tower


blocks over 30 metres, residential tower blocks, to have sprinklers


installed in them. But nurses and student accommodation is deemed to


be other accommodation and, therefore, there is no requirement


for sprinklers to be installed. It seems as if nurses and students are


expendable. That cannot be right. When we are talking about cups, I


mentioned the fire safety inspectors have taken note of the system. It is


also important to remember that fire station after fire station across


the capital the country has been closed. Many firemen have lost the


jobs. That creates its own problems. I was speaking to the fire Brigade


union executive representative, they were talking about by reducing the


number of firefighters available for emergencies, when we have a


catastrophe as we saw, firefighters are repeatedly going into the


building to rescue people. The problem with that is that when


people are using, firefighters are using breathing apparatus, it


thickens the blood. It leaves the firefighters at greater risk of


coronary attack. We know from eyewitnesses accounts that


firefighters were entering Grenfell Tower up to three teams to rescue


people. They should not have been in that situation. The Prime Minister


said, the London Fire Brigade have resources that the need. She implied


that they really were unable to respond to the fire was proof of


that. The truth is, the London Fire Brigade do not have the resources


they need. If they do tell, firefighters would not have been


having to go into the building time after time to rescue people. It been


enough firefighters to ensure that firefighters would only have had to


enter the building on one occasion. If we are going to learn any lessons


and we always hear about the importance of learning lessons, but


seriously, if we're going to any lessons from this dreadful fire that


should never have happened, then surely it must be it is that we need


a different approach to the neoliberal agenda and looking at the


way services are delivered in our country. We need to look at the


deregulation agenda and we have been subjected to. We have to abandon the


privatisation of our public services. Surely we have heard from


members on this, the importance of installing sprinklers. Add Grenfell


Tower being fitted with sprinklers, we may have lost a building, but we


hope would not have lost human lives. I do not think that is the


building in the world where it has been fitted with sprinklers and


people have died. If so, very few. We need to learn the lesson. We also


have to listen very carefully to the survivors, the community, the


residents who have been so badly affected by this episode. I was


speaking to someone from the Justice group just yesterday and she said


that there are a number of demands. When the minister gets up, I hope he


will concur and accept the demands. I hope he will ensure they are


delivered. The two demands they told me about, they wanted to ensure that


the survivors want to ensure that everyone is housed within the


borough within good quality accommodation. The is empty


accommodation available in the Bible which could be acquired by the local


authority. It has the resources within its reserves to be able to


acquire these properties. These should be making those resources


available. Secondly, the second thing she said, that the survivors


want is help. Help in the present situation they are in. She was


speaking to one survivor who had been put into the hotel and they


were just left to fend for themselves. They did not know where


to go to be able to get food and change of clothes, someone needs to


be done. There needs to be more immediate help for the survivors. In


the shorter term, I hope the minister will make this clear, make


accommodation available. I want to conclude, Mr Deputy Speaker, I


attended a meeting of the local government Association earlier this


week. They showed me a paper which was pretty the Fire Services


management committee and that made a number of recommendations. I would


be interested in the minister's response to them when he gets to his


feet. They should agree to have sprinkler systems fitted in all


high-rise flats in the country. It also says any cladding fitted should


be made of high-quality fire resistant material approved by the


Fire Service to a national standard. They also ask that the Fire Service


should have overall responsibility for fire safety for high-rise flats,


including flats, corridors, public seat spaces, fire alarms and that


the Fire Service should provide fire safety assurance for high-rise


flats. All high-rise blocks should be inspected by the Fire Service


every two years. And they should be inspected immediately after a major


refurbishment. They should also be built to include all of the above


and be built with two steering Wales in the building. They go on to ask


that there is an urgent review of the fire regulation order and call


on the fire step is to reenable building control applications to be


reviewed by risk assessed basis. They see the government will need to


recognise that extra government financial resources will be needed


to be made available to Fire And Rescue Services, to enable them to


be able to provide the necessary workload that this will require.


That seems to me a common-sense List. It has to be remembered that


this was a cross-party group. People are also seen this from the


Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and


independence. I hope the Minister will take into account what his


cross-party group has said, take into account the very sensible


suggestions made on both sides of the house today and most importantly


listen to the survivors and listen to the community and respond


appropriately. This is a stain on the very character of the country


and we need to make sure really the license and mean it when we see this


will never, ever happen again. It is a great pleasure to have listen to


this debate and listen to the excellent maiden speeches of


colleagues from Leeds, Croydon, Barnsley, Lewisham and I hope I have


got them all. It is also been an excellent debate with many important


points and questions for ministers which have been asked. These are


things the government must address. I am going -- not going to take


members time repeating this. The fire was an appalling tragedy and it


was rightly that was said to be a preventable tragedy. It was


exacerbated by what seemed to be, as somebody who has a bit of


experience, as a frankly dysfunctional response from


Kensington and Chelsea Council in the hours, days and weeks following


the terrible fire. This year all concerns from members for the


families and relatives who lost their lives. I share the concerns of


the emergency and front-line service workers, who had to deal with that


trauma. And I hope there will be adequate long-term post-dramatic


support for all of them. Such is the government instigated initiated


after the 7/7 bombings. I know someone who personally have received


a lot of great support after lap. The fact London Fire Brigade to


produce cancers from over ten to under five in the last seven years


is something that needs to immediately be addressed in terms of


offering support and adequate provision for counselling for our


service personnel and which agree with me? That is an excellent point,


he has made. Clearly the fire service workers, fire officers and


others are at the front line of experiencing trauma as we have heard


many reports of the lack all fire. For a service like that, essential


service like that that employs people experiencing that trauma to


cut by half specialist counselling services is yet another example that


we have heard again and again of the impact of public service cuts, the


impact of austerity on public services that are there for us all.


And that trauma, that post trauma counselling whether it is provided


by an employer for front line workers or a member of the public


who is nearby all-weather at charity worker helping out in a rescue


station was somebody just passing somebody who lives in a similar


block, everybody should have a right to that trauma counselling and


support because as my friend has told me it makes a real difference


in the long-term ability of you to be able to function for the long


term of your life. Like many members here, constituents of mine live in


older tower blocks, council owned tower block, Brentford towers and in


Ivybridge estate in Brentford and eyes were, many have contacted me


because they are frightened, they cannot sleep at night, their


children cannot sleep, they really do not want to carry on living


there. They need reassurance, some of them the trauma is so bad they


are asking to be rehoused. This is a major issue, I did have the benefit


of being briefed by London borough of Hounslow officers and members in


the week immediately after the Grenfell fire, I was reassured in my


constituency none have cladding that fails the government tests and I was


also pleased to hear that in the day after the Grenfell fire, the


councils programmed to be clad in the six towers of Brentford towers,


the cladding programme on them has been put on hold until they review


the specifics of that programme. The cladding programme is needed for


reasons of safety of the building and external cladding and for


thermal insulation but it is absolutely right given what has


happened that the specifics of that cladding programme are reviewed.


London borough of Hounslow, the leader and councillors are meeting


all residents of tower blocks to hear their concerns, to listen and


to respond. The right thing to do. London borough of Hounslow is also


responding to requests and offering help to Kensington and Chelsea, a


range of services. The council is preparing estate fire safety and


improvement plans in order to ensure prevention and tackling fire safety


inside and outside all tower blocks is addressed. And is also reviewing


all of the existing fire risk assessments in all blocks. As


somebody who has been an experienced counsellor, the lead member for


housing and also I have had the lead responsibility for contingency


planning, I have seen first-hand how proper fire safety mechanisms and


management by residents and landlord alike can work. Fraser house, there


was a fire were a resident died but the fire did not spread through the


block. The appropriate fire doors were shut, the appropriate venting


was open so the fire was drawn away from other flats and straight out of


the vents on the floor. That is why I understand first-hand how you


buildings are designed fire safety and how you must be very careful


when revising the structure and cladding and anything else in


buildings and also why the management and working with


residents is so important, the reason those fire doors were shut


was because residents and the council worked together after the


lack Hall report was carried out to learn the lessons from luck in all


and to make sure fire doors remained closed and someone who is regularly


in out of the tower blocks of Brentford towers and talking to


residents and canvassing elections, I have seen how one hot summers it


is tempting to pop open the fire doors but after laughing all that


stopped happening and fire doors were closed. Good management, good


communication works. As somebody has been a lead member of contingency


planning, luckily thankfully I did not have to deal with a contingency


plan but I was briefed to know what an emergency look like, felt like a


what my role would be and what the role of senior officers would be and


how the relationship and the communications links go with other


authorities up and down the line, a completely different way of managing


in a crisis than you do day-to-day. So as somebody who woke up that


morning and started following the Twitter feed and listen to the news


and so on, whatever shocked at was the response, the poverty of


response from Kensington and Chelsea that smacks to me of inadequate


preparation for an emergency. I accept that Lakanal sorry, Grenfell


fire was out of any order, as are the members have said, this is the


biggest fire we have had since wartime but nevertheless one of the


symptoms I would look at as an outsider, I would look for somebody,


a person regularly in front of the camera is listening, speaking. That


person meeting residents affected on the front line workers and charity


workers. I would expect the charities and so on to be responded


to requests from how from the local authority, not being the sole


providers of support in the hours and days after the event. And what


did we see? Community centres, mosques and churches on their own


having to receive massive amounts of goodwill, sometimes of things they


did not need at that time like an oversupply of blankets but they were


working on their own, they did not know what to say to those offers of


help. And what also concerned me was that I heard other local authorities


particularly those close to Kensington and Chelsea offered that


weeks allocation of social rented housing for Kensington and Chelsea


to use as temporary or permanent homes for those affected. There was


no adequate response. The local authorities offered specialised


experienced trauma counsellors to Kensington and Chelsea, there was no


response. At the time when people are willing and able to go the extra


mile to share with colleagues in this extreme crisis, there was


nowhere for them to turn to. And I do hope the enquiry looks at the


response of the local authority and Taleb respond should have been and


we have all ready heard how it can work as happens in the Manchester


concert, after the terrorism attack in the Manchester concert hall and


members in Manchester have said what they felt to be a good response by


that local authority. So, finally, Grenfell residents Grenfell Tower


and Grenfell walk residents and their families deserve justice. All


residents of tower blocks deserve reassurance so they can live and


sleep in peace. And poor communities and those in housing need it a


government that no longer ignores them, but no longer cuts vital


services, that no longer ignores the conclusions of public enquiries, and


that invests in adequate good-quality truly affordable


housing. Thank you and we welcome this debate today and I would like


to begin by thanking colleagues who have contributed to it and in


particular from the Labour benches my honourable friend is the members


for Sheffield South East, Eltham, Kensington bespeaks his emotion


knowledge and first-hand experience of the dreadful tragedy and its


aftermath, Norwich South, Westminster North, Ogmore, Stratford


and Urmston, Dulwich and West Norwood crop plant Limehouse,


Hammersmith, Derby North and Brentford and Isleworth Crown Court


and some brilliant and powerful maiden speeches as well my


honourable friend the members for Lewisham West and Penge, Barnsley


East, Croydon Central, Leeds North West and Lee all showed an absolute


passion and dedication and they'll be doughty champions in their


constituents and their constituencies in this place and I


welcome each and every one of them. And also in other parts of the house


we have heard from the honourable members for North East


Hertfordshire, Southend West, Southampton itching, Cheltenham,


Brentford, Bath and Redditch. Mr Deputy Speaker, there can be little


dispute that the shock that we all felt following this tragedy has not


subsided in the weeks that have followed. Whilst there is a clear


need for immediate answers, we welcome the decision yesterday by


the Grenfell enquiry to extend the consultation period by tee-macro


weeks to provide those affected with more time to respond. It is


understandable that the immediate focus of the response to this


tragedy has been on meeting the needs of the bereaved and the


survivors but I also urge the government for action on the


neighbours and the community members around Grenfell Tower? We have been


speaking to some of those organised, organising volunteers have expressed


concern at the lack of support accessed by the nearby residents.


These people saw the disaster developpe at close hand but somehow


not accessed support either because they have not been thoroughly


approached, or because of a reluctance to do so when local


services are so overwhelmed. I want to pay tribute to the fire come at


the police, and the community as we have heard to pull together to


assist when frankly statutory authorities failed. And that is why


I also ask that the government makes sure support is available to those


volunteering after this disaster, volunteers are now doing a job that


many of us could not imagine as part of the DBI team. As the tragedy


unfolded on the 14th of June, I watched one of the news channels and


there was an interview with the resident whose property overlooks


the tower, he spoke how from his kitchen window he saw the building


on fire with children calling for help from the windows. So many have


been affected by this tragedy that we do need to make sure adequate


support is in place for the residents, for those living around,


for those dealing with the aftermath and also for those children who


survived and two frankly saw things that no child should ever have to


see. And I want assurances from this government that they will make sure


that every adequate support that those people can get will be given.


But similarly residents in tower blocks throughout Britain also need


reassurances that their homes are safe. As my right honourable friend


the member for Wentworth and Dean today make clear, where he made it


clear whether government need to improve. For weeks on from this


tragedy we are still needing the government to show some leadership


because concerns run deep. And they run beyond the neighbourhood


surrounding Grenfell. We have heard today how members across this house


have been contacted by their own concerns constituents who live


within the 4000 other tower blocks in the UK. But ministers still


cannot say how many of these tower blocks they consider to be safe. Of


the 530 tower blocks covered in aluminium composite material


cladding which has been the focus of the testing process, the last update


given by ministers only 200 had material tested. We have heard


Housing associations whose residents have sought assurances their non-ACM


clad buildings are safe and I have three main constituency have been


told that the government are refusing to check their cladding due


to the current narrow focus of the testing. That is not good enough.


Where buildings have failed safety tests like those in Salford, local


authorities are now unclear on how to proceed because guidance issued


by the Department of community is has been unclear, on whether


cladding that fails combustibility tests require removal and if they


do, whether leaving it unclad and open to the elements is a worse fire


situation then having the cladding on.


On July three, the secretary said that houses which failed the test


were likely to be compliant with combustibility regulations. As for


the exploratory scheme talked about by the Secretary, it could be that


some which do not meet the requirements they could be used if


the form part of a system of materials which to meet the safety


criteria. Whether they meet the criteria for the combustible test,


the other is making sure the facade system is meeting certain criteria,


following methods in British standards 8414. Under the current


regulatory system, even cladding which feels tests for Limited


combustibility can be utilised in development as long as the criteria


is met. Despite Paul was noted by the Chancellor in his misinformed


comments, the cladding used for the project by Grenfell Tower was not


banned in the United Kingdom. If we act to prevent a tragedy like that


again, we need to get these things right. The Fire Service was first at


the scene. We need to make sure the player rule, an important role in


the forthcoming enquiry and that the expertise is taken on board and is


acted upon. Following the fire, many local authorities have been


undertaking safety checks and installing fire prevention systems.


I know that many councils have gone beyond looking at just tower blocks


looking at other public buildings such as schools and hospitals. As I


have already mentioned, some local authorities have begun removing


cladding from the buildings after the field tests, but as I have


already explained, the building regulations do not reflect


necessarily what the documentation being issued by the department would


suggest. Some housing providers have since stopped removing cladding


because of the lack of direction. They do not know how it could be


replaced and by what materials it should be replaced by. Residents are


worried that inaction is leaving them vulnerable. But without


guidance, local authorities are unsure about how best to act. And


leadership and this has not been forthcoming from the Secretary of


State, who instead passed the buck to landlords to take decisions on


building safety. As my right honourable friend, the shadow


Secretary of State for housing noted in his opening remarks. This is not


the first time the government have failed to take responsibility for


safety, referring to the wants of the former Housing minister who


stated that there was the responsibility of the fire of


industry, rather than government, to encourage the installation of


sprinkler systems. We have heard from around the house the goal for


the retrofitting of sprinkler systems. I wish to urge the Minister


to consult the all-party Parliamentary group on fire safety


because there is an urgent need to make sure that all buildings, public


buildings and housing, is safe. I want, if I'm me, to commend the


Labour led Stockport Metropolitan Council, in my own constituency, who


have agreed to retrofit sprinkler systems in all Stockport tower


blocks. That is down to the work of each councillor Sheila Bailey who is


making sure that is going to happen. I know that there are similar moves


be made by other local authorities by all political persuasions. There


is an important matter needing clarified today. They have not given


any real commitment to local authorities. The boards of the first


Secretary of State when he stood unannounced that they would only be


prepared to fund these measures in certain circumstances, basically


means that already cash strapped local authorities will have to find


money they simply do not have. They will have to cut services elsewhere


in order to do that. Unless the government know comes to the


dispatch box and explains how the define only going to make resources


available to local authorities to do these works and what step that means


in practical terms, it is a bit of an empty promise. Finally, I wanted


to. I will give way. Thank you. I have written a question to the


Secretary of State. I have told unto see how would this be assessed, the


funding for local authorities? He has given me a rather empty answer


to a pressing problem. It absolutely is. Unless the minister in his


summing up can explain how local authorities are going to get that


resource, the fact is, in my honourable friend 's constituency,


like many other councils in the country, they just do not have the


financial means to be able to do that without some certainty that


they are going to get some recompense from central government.


I want to quickly come to the issue of government. We have heard that


the task force sent in to advise Kensington and Chelsea Council like


the powers necessary to coordinate the things that need to be done


following this disaster. They have the deficit in local leadership.


This task force, as the First Minister said, can advise, but


cannot act. This is surely an issue of real concern. This council,


Kensington and Chelsea, was just not up to the job in terms of dealing


with a disaster of this magnitude. The response was quite not


acceptable, in any sense of that era. There is a very real concern


about the week Kensington and Chelsea have not just handled the


immediacy of this tragedy, but also the shortcomings by the local


authority in the days and weeks after it. Again, speaking to those


offering support to survivors, there are real concerns that financial


support is still not what it should be. I appreciate that ministers have


given assurances that benefits will not be affected. But the lack of


trust that some continue to police in the elected representatives


locally have led to some refusing support. This needs to be addressed


at the local level. Secondly, the ability of the council to deal with


these serious shortcomings in the contingency plan and in management


have emerged and yet the government have not been able to intervene and


they have not been Goodenough. People still in need and support and


still in need of housing. There have been an acknowledgement that there


are areas of the council work which have not been Goodenough. But those


who feel to residents are still in charge. We have here at the new


leader of the council saying she had never been inside the high-rise


tower block before. What a farce. On the first of this month, Labour


called for commissioners to be sent in to take control of the situation.


Trust with the local community will not be rebuilt by the leader of


local politicians unless there is a major shake-up. What we are seeing,


Mr Speaker, and it will repeat the call made on the first of this month


is that local people want to see that the government is taking


control of the situation, that there is a shake-up in the management and


governance of Kensington and Chelsea and that the situation will be


closely monitored and managed directly by commissioners and


struggled to the Secretary of State in Parliament and until the capacity


of that local authority is fit for purpose to govern in the interests


of all residents of Kensington and Chelsea. We're still in a position


we are all those who lost their homes are in secure accommodation,


until we are in a position where support is made for all who need it


and until we are in a position in a position to the public are able to


place their trust in elected representatives in Kensington and


Chelsea Council, we will repeat work call that the commissioners should


take over the running of that council. Changes are needed. Changes


are needed for the governance of the council. It is based on evidence we


already have at the moment. We urge the government to meet that and make


that happen swiftly. If they do so, they will have our support. We have


a DD killed and wide-ranging debate today. Me I start by congratulating


all the members who have made maiden speeches today. Lewisham, Barnsley


East, Croydon Central. We have also had powerful speeches from the


member for Southampton, Cheltenham, Brentwood and read each. We also


hear from the member from Kensington and Chelsea who has been very


involved with dealing with the residents and being part of that


response. We have heard from members of the all-party group on fire


safety. I would say to the Shadow Minister that I also had a meeting


with to hear the detail setting out what they wanted to happen as part


of the enquiry going forward. Colleagues have had an opportunity


to express a range of views, some obviously different from others.


What does unite others in this house today is the view that, ultimately,


the people who matter most of those who are directly affected by this


terrible tragedy. They must have questions answered as to what the


enquiry will precisely do. The secretary Shadow for housing says he


will not rest until the people have not got the help they need, making


sure this never happens again. Let me give you an assurance that we


will not rest until all three of these conditions are met. Neither


will any colleague in this house. Let me once again place my deepest


condolences for those who suffered a great loss as the result of this


fire which we all agree should never have happened. Colleagues from


around the house are paid tribute to victims, their families and the hero


was of the emergency services. I know these heartfelt views will be


here than echoed across the country. Today's debate has provided the


opportunity to reflect on the skill of the human cost of the tragedy,


but has also given as a valuable chance to look ahead for what comes


next, principally the public enquiry to establish exactly what went wrong


and who is responsible. Colleagues have raised a range of issues.


Before I continue, perhaps I can spend a few minutes responding to


some of them. In terms of the help be made available to those affected,


as all members will know, we have made offers to all those who want


offers made to them. Secondary offers have been made. 19 of the


families have now accepted an offer. I would point out, is a note


honourable members know, we need to go at the speed the families want us


to go out. That is very important. Some of them will want to move into


permanent accommodation, rather than temporary accommodation. We accept


that. We have had discussions about that. I hope we will soon be able to


be in a position where we have more news about the flat in Kensington


and we are also looking to secure a similar accommodation so we have


social housing rather than taking up posting which others may have


occupied. No one will be forced into a house they do not want to go into.


120 households that received a grant of ?5,000, many others have received


a ?500 cash payment and a total almost ?4 million has been paid out


from the discretionary fund. Colleagues have raised issues around


trauma support, that is being made available to those who absolutely


need it and given the exceptional nature of the incident, we have


agreed that funding that this will be used even though no crime has


been committed that we are aware of. There was a discussion around the


government response to the testing regime we put in place, I have to


say that I think the Secretary of State has led right from the start


on this. I have been by his side and he has led on this and I would say


to Honourable members look on the government website and it will tell


you all the letters we have written to local authorities Housing


associations, or the tests that we have suggested are done and yes, we


have 211 tests that have come back as positive or negative but what I


would say if we are working with the Local Government Association and


others to encourage housing associations and local councils and


private landlords to send in the cladding protesting and what I would


say to every member here and they can help with this is that I know


they will be in touch with local authorities but please us, ask your


local... Can he confirm that half or more of all the high-rise towers


that were identified at the earlier point in this discussion have not


submitted materials to be tested because that is the clear


implication of what he's saying now? What I'm saying is we want to get


this testing done as quickly as possible. We have got the resources


available for that, if I may, there are also some cases where local


authorities will have sent in one piece of cladding for testing from


the building and had a number of buildings that were re-clad at a


similar time so what we are hoping to establish is whether that is the


case or not so there is an north a lot of work going on, I recommend it


to Honourable members please have a look on the website which will tell


you in great detail what the expert advisory panel is doing and all the


tests that are being carried out. Members also talked about insulation


and when we wrote to local authorities on the 22nd of June we


also asked them to look at insulation and there are tests,


there was an announcement on the 6th of July where the independent panel


announced they will be recommending wider system checks of cladding and


testing ACM panels with two of the most commonly used insulation


materials as well. There was discussion around building


regulations, I would respectfully point out that these were put


together in 2006, not when the current government was in place so


this idea that deregulation has played a part is really quite


unfair. If I may also make reference to the Lakanal house and what is it


the coroner wanted to happen, the coroner recommended simplifying the


fire safety guidance and the building regulations, not a change


in the standards and I accept that has not happened as yet but clearly


in the light of this tragedy we need to reflect on the previous plans the


consulting and if anything emerges from the investigation we need to


take immediate action, we will do that and the expert advisory panel


which my right honourable friend has appointed is considering a range of


matters but particularly whether there are any immediate additional


actions that need to be taken to ensure the safety of existing


high-rise buildings. Could he clarify whether the testing and


regulation review the government is undertaking extends to other


buildings that may be affected, schools, hospitals? Yes, that work


is ongoing. There was discussion about the panel, the independent


recovery task force that has been appointed by the Secretary of State


to look at Kensington, I would point out that we have done this and if we


had gone down the road of having commissioners that would have been a


statutory intervention, it would have taken longer and argue is what


we need to do is get people in there now and focus particularly on


housing regeneration community engagement and they will report


directly to the Secretary of State. Who they are and where they are?


That information will be published shortly. On product safety, the


honourable member Hammersmith raise this point particularly and can I


say the government of course has a working group on product recalls


which has been working and the government has asked the working


group to review urgently its final report in the light of the Grenfell


Tower tragedy. And finally, on social housing, I know who will have


an option to to debate these matters in the months and years ahead but I


would point out to the Shadow Secretary of State that during the


period of 97 to 2010 the number of social rented homes fell by 420,000


but since 2010 we have had 333,000 new affordable homes which have been


delivered. I think that debate for another day. May I just return to


the public enquiry? In terms of the debate coming has not come back to


the issue of what funding will be available to other local authorities


carrying out this essential works and what criteria will be used to


assess any funding applications? I think the Secretary of State and


other ministers have been absolutely clear, we do not want local


authorities or housing associations to stop them doing anything that is


necessary to keep people safe and if they're not able to fund this will


work with them and we will work with them on the funding process. Let me


continue. There will be a range of views expressed about the cause of


the Grenfell... I will not give way. I must continue. A range of views


expressed by the cause of the Grenfell Tower tragedy but what is


vitally important is that we have a full independent public enquiry with


a remix that goes way beyond the design, construction and


modification of the building itself, an effective and prompt enquiry will


follow defined terms of reference and setting those is crucial. The


terms or beset formally by the prime minister but she would do so


following the recommendations from the public enquiries chair, Sir


Martin who was appointed to head of the enquiry on the 29th of June and


on that day he spoke with some who had been likely affected by this


tragedy when he visited the site. Sir Martin has been clear in his


desire to consult the affected residents about what the terms of


the reference should be and I know he has been meeting with to hear


their views, he has also said he welcomes the views from the wider


community. These are the actions of a person who wants to proactively


engage with those directly affected right from the start. And I would


urge members who have concerns or ideas about the terms to raise them


with the enquiry team and details are available on the enquiry


website, Grenfell Tower enquiry .org .uk. During today's debate, some


concern has been expressed about Sir Martin's suitability for the role


but as the first Secretary of State said, he is independent,


well-qualified and totally impartial. He is a hugely


experienced former Court of appeal judge. Judges decide cases solely on


the evidence presented in court and in accordance with the law. As a


senior judge, Sir Martin has worked across a range of cases. There are


cases where some Martin has been praised by lawyers and cases where


he has found in favour of housing association tenants. But in each


case he would have made decisions based on the law on the evidence,


nothing more, nothing less. Members opposite may be aware that from


December 2005 until 2009 he was chair of the legal service


consultative panel advising success of Lord Chancellor is on the


regulation and trading of lawyers, legal services and other related


matters. Lord Chancellor is he served one Lord Faulkner and Jack


Straw. I previously noted it is important to government, central and


local, to work hard to win the trust of those directly affected by this


tragedy. I have no doubt that Sir Martin is similarly aware he needs


to foster that trust. And I'm sure as his dialogue with the local


community continues they will note his only motivation is to get to the


bottom of what happened. I can assure members that the government


will co-operate fully with the inquiry and I had the same will be


true of the local authority and any other individual or body who has


worked -- whose work falls within inquiry remit. It is vital no stone


is left unturned and anyone who has done wrong there is nowhere to hide.


And to help get to the truth, survivors of the fire and the


families of victims will receive funding for legal representation at


the enquiry, details of how the access legal funding will follow


once the enquiry is up and running. I know some concern has been raised


by the lack of coroners inquest, let me assure colleagues there will be


an inquest and the coroner is all ready investigating the deaths, this


is statutory duty. The police that investigation is all ready under way


in conjunction with the London Fire Brigade and Health and Safety


Executive. The police investigation will consider potential criminal


liability. The police have been very clear, arrests will follow if any


evidence of criminal wrongdoing is found. And unlike a coroner inquest,


a full judge led public enquiry will allow us to look at the broader


circumstances leading up to the surrounding fire at Grenfell Tower


and allow us to take any action necessary as quickly as possible to


prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. I know colleagues


have expressed concerns about timing, of course we want the


enquiry to be completed as quickly as possible and the main priority


will be to establish the facts and what action is needed to prevent a


similar tragedy from happening again. It will be for some Martin to


determine the timescale enquiry but I'm certain he will be aware of the


universal desire to see an interim report published at the earliest


opportunity. In the case of some past disasters like Hillsborough, it


took far too long for the whole story of what happens to emerge. We


do not want that to be the case with Grenfell Tower. Which is why the


prime minister ordered a full public enquiry as soon as the scale of the


tragedy became apparent. Regardless of politics or ideology, regardless


of what we think the best course of action is, all of us here want one


thing, the trees. -- the truth. It might prove uncomfortable for some


might not fit the preconception of others but the truth must come out.


I'm confident Sir Martin will see to it that the truth does come out. Mr


Speaker, the survivors of the Grenfell fire and the families of


those who lost no less. The question is that this house considers the


Grenfell Tower Fire inquiry, as many of that opinion say aye, contrary


say no. The ayes have it. Just before we come to the matter for


which a good many members are waiting, I imagine they are, and if


they are not they should be, they could be waiting with the


anticipation the adjournment debate but quite a lot are probably waited


the announcement of the results of the election of the chairs of select


committees but before we come to that I will take the point of order


from Jenny Chapman. The house is aware that the repeal bill is to be


published tomorrow morning but disconcertingly the Labour Party has


received reports that the press is to be briefed on its contents this


evening. Mr Speaker, have you received any notice from the


government that a minister intends to come to this house at the


earliest opportunity to make a statement as to the contents of the


bill or if not, can you please advise me as to how we might be able


to bring the contents of the house to the attention of the house before


the 21st of July? I thank Evra point of order, the short answer is I have


received no indication of any tension of a minister to make a


statement this matter tomorrow -- any intention. However, it is


perfectly open to the honourable lady and her colleagues to ensure


they have a default position so that if no ministerial statement is


proffered, they could at least give themselves the chance of an urgent


question. I cannot offer any guarantee as to whether such a


question would be selected but it can be selected by definition only


if it is submitted. In so far as she seeks my advice, that is my advice


without prejudice. If there are no pot further points


of order, we come to the results of the election of Cheers to select


committees. The nominations for the 27 subcommittee closed on Friday the


7th of July. No ballot was necessary for 17 committees, four of which a


single nomination had been received. Culture media and sport, Damian


Collins. Exiting the European Union, Henry Bill. International


development, Steven Tweed. Justice, Robert Neill. Petitions, Edward


Jones. Public accounts Meg Hillier. Scottish fears, Paul Wishart.


Standards, Kevin Barron. Women and equality Maria Miller. I see what I


am about to seek for the benefit of people attending to proceedings out


with the chamber. What I have said means that those named individuals


have been elected or in many cases re-elected as the head of these


select committees. In the contested elections, 587 ballots were


submitted. The following candidates were elected. Backbench business, E


in May is. Business, energy and industrial strategy, Rachel Reeves.


Communities and local government full, Clive Betts. Education, Robert


A. Environment, food and rural affairs, Neil Parish. Foreign


affairs, told. Science and technology, Norman Lamb. Transport,


Lillian Greenwood. Treasury, Nicky Morgan. The full breakdown of voting


in each contest, votes applicable to each candidate is set out in a paper


shortly available on the Parliament website and members shall elect to


take up positions formally when the committee has been nominated by the


house. I congratulate all the honourable members concerned. I


hope, with the concurrence of the house, thank all of those candidates


who took part in the elections. This is the somewhat more democratic


house in 2017 by comparison with an earlier era. Thank you, colleagues.


We come no to the adjournment. To move. The question is that this


house do know John. I am saddened speedy exit, but not surprised, of


large numbers of members. If they are members wishing to leave who do


not wish to hear the creation of the honourable gentleman, subject to


redundancy moderation audits, a tizzy departure on the ugly part, I


hope they will leave quickly and quietly. The question is that this


house do no adjournment. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am grateful to raise


the redundancy modification orders question. Is the name implies, the


order next to his ears continuity of employment when they move between


local government positions. Pretty much every type of job which


belonged to the local government family is covered by this. To


illustrate this, the List already includes bodies in my own


constituency. The likes of the Scottish Environment Agency,


Scottish water and the Scottish committee for the regulation of


care. I would like to draw members to the explanatory notes. The order


modify certain positions of the employment rates act 1996 regarding


redundancy payments in the application to persons employed by


certain local government employers or other employers and related


sectors. The modifications have the effect that the employment of such a


person by more than one such employer may be treated as of it


were continuous for the purpose of those provisions. The re-engagement


of such a person or an offer made by an employer is made as a fitness


re-engagement. That means, in ordinary language, it means success


of employment is deemed as concert continuous. The provisions of the


1996 act would apply. If an employer receives a job offer from another


listed body under the body and starts a new role within four weeks


from the end of the job, the are regarded as having continuity of


employment. If they do not have the job within the first four weeks,


they are able to terminate the contract and be eligible for any


redundancy payments. No continuous service accounts other than to


anything other than the redundancy payment. Such continuous employment


does not allow the employee other greats, such as sickness. This order


has been amended a number of times, with the last amendment being two


years ago. The crux of the issue and the reason for the debate is the


lack of progress made on updating the order and the impact of this on


employees rates and benefits. Pension and annual leave


entitlement. As many terms of conditions of local government


employment are links to continuous service, the impact on changing


employers extends far beyond redundancy rates, affecting other


entitlements such as sickness rates and maternity pay. There are a


number of organisations across the United Kingdom yet to be included in


the order, despite applying for inclusion. Many up like many years


ago. Many -- one of them as the Falkirk community trust, which


applies shortly after its establishment six years ago. The


been approved for inclusion. Today, this inclusion has not taken place


and has been beset by delays. The government stated two years ago that


the order would be updated in due course. As the gunmen as a way, the


Department for Communities and Local Government on behalf of the United


Kingdom government and the devolved administrations in Scotland and


Wales Acts for them. I have been told they are actively working


options taking forward to the redundancy modification order will


update. I am grateful for giving way. He is making a very powerful


speech about this important issue. As he had any indication from the


government as to why this is taking so long and when there will be a


resolution? That is indeed a question I was coming to. I have


asked that in written questions and I hope the Minister will answer that


tonight. In November last year, I wrote to ministers are scheming to


set a firm timetable for this. The response I received was completely


unsatisfactory. No explanation for the delays are no firm commitment


for updating the commitment within any team skill. No updates have been


made. Many employees across the country in a form of humble as to


whether they are in continuous service and whether it is to be


recognised. Thousands of local government workers are unaware that


could potentially be affected by this lack of action. One such person


who has been affected as many constituent who first made me aware


of this. She has worked in local government for over 20 years. Having


transferred employers on occasions, 30s highlights the problem of this.


In 2013, from employer at the time, North Lanarkshire Council, formed an


arms length company called North Lanarkshire properties. A small


number of staff reassured that in addition to the order was a


formality as it was imminent. Given the relatively straightforward this


process should be, that assurance has not seen to be a reasonable one.


Life is really straightforward. When she took up a new post with Falkirk


Council last year she discovered that they had still not been


informed of the decision as to whether they had been added to the


redundancy modification order. She has lost continuity of service. She


and others need to know when a decision will be made and whether


this will be retrospective. We find ourselves in the situation where the


right to be unfairly dismissed and the rate to redundancy payment,


which required two years continuous service, have been met. Workers


affected by this risk losing these rates. While I hope the situation


will be retrospectively resolved, I wonder what happens to anyone read


redundant poll this limbo period is in place? Without a doubt, the


redundancy modification order is had a huge impact on continuous service


benefits, including pension, annual leave entitlement and other


conditions. Quite simply, this is not good enough that public sector


staff are not treated better. There are more than enough challenges and


local government without managers and staff having to investigate and


try to sort out stuff conditions and benefits from changing jobs under


such circumstances. In recent years, local government has had to come up


with many effective ways of making efficiency savings and streamlining


delivery of public services. The creation of arms length companies


has been a regular feature of that process. That has happened up and


down the United Kingdom. Many members will note of the Labour


trusts set up within the own constituencies in recent years. I


wonder how many are included in the current redundancy modification


orders? The numbers of affected companies and workers is likely to


continue to increase. The frequency of updates to the order to include


new employment is not keeping pace with life in the public sector.


Those affected are very frustrated. I share the frustration. I have a


number of questions to ask. Why is this taking so long? When will it be


resolved? And what will be done to sort this retrospectively, to ensure


hard-working constituents affected by these delays do not potentially


lose out? Particularly, how can we make sure those affected will not


get lost benefits when things finally catch up with the new


employment? In conclusion, the order is a key instrument in protecting


the Thames and Prince conditions of local government workers. It should


be given a higher priority than it has been done by this government.


Ministers will still need to look at the preservation of other service


benefits such as annual leave and sickness benefits. As a mentioned


earlier, the Department for Communities and Local Government on


behalf of the devolved administrations, I would suggest


that given legislative competency over local government is devolved to


the Scottish Government, perhaps it would make sense to devolve the


issue of the order to Scotland. I would like to hear the minister's


suggestion and his response to that these questions? I call the


Minister, Marcus Jones to reply. I would like to thank the honourable


gentleman for bringing up this issue. And for giving me this


opportunity to respond. The redundancy modification order is a


statutory instrument which allows local government to carry over the


employment service when they move between employers within the local


government family. The order covers England, Scotland


and Wales. It has the effect of making bodies which are providing


local authority functions and which are listed as associated employers


for the purposes of statutory redundancy payments. For the


individual working in local government, this means their


employment service with any body listed on the redundancy


modification order can be used to calculate a redundancy payment in


the event that the individual is made redundant. It brings local


government in line with the arrangements that exist for other


associated employers and the employment rights act 1986 for


example the civil service and I know the honourable gentleman did mention


that in his speech. Employment matters in relation to the


employment rights act 1996 will usually be administered by the part


for business innovation and skills but given the redundancy


modification orders focus on local government in 2009 it was decided


that the Department for communities and local would be best placed to


take the lead on this matter. This is why I am responding to to the


house on this matter this evening. I know generally the redundancy


modification order enjoys broad support of the local government


sector, it is part of the local government employment rights


framework, when seeking to outsource services and other operations local


authorities will often apply for the new body to be part of the


redundancy modification order. The redundancy modification order has


been in place since 1993 and was last consolidated into one piece of


legislation in 1999. Since 1999 there have been a number of separate


orders which have been made and added as new bodies to the list of


associated bodies. It is fair to say over that time and order has become


a rather untidy piece of legislation, unwieldy and often


difficult for people both in local and central government to navigate


or administer. It is also clear that more could be done to ensure that


the current criteria and processes used by government to add new bodies


to the redundancy modification order are far more open and transparent.


For these reasons, the order is currently under review. Any review


must ensure redundancy modification order is not in the future overly


burdensome on process cost. I would like to ensure the order is focused


on core local government services and functions and delivers good


value for money for taxpayers. There are a number of outstanding


applications for bodies waiting to be added to the redundancy


modification order including several Scottish bodies as the honourable


gentleman referred to. Many of these bodies have been waiting some time


to know whether they will be added or not and therefore become an


associated employer, to those bodies I do offer my apologies for the


delay in providing the answer to them. As I have always stated, the


redundancy modification order is currently under review. In relation


to the story that the honourable gentleman brought up his


constituency in relation to the effect on his constituent in


relation to the redundancy modification order and the review


currently taking place, I would be grateful if the honourable gentleman


could write to me with more information in relation to that


particular case and I will be interested to hear that. The


honourable member also asked if the government intends to devolve some


of the redundancy modification order functions to the Scottish


government. As he may know, the Scottish government has approached


DCLG ministers with a proposal to transport functions of the


redundancy modification order under section 63 of the Scotland act 1998


to the Scottish government. This will effectively remove the need for


my department officials to consider applications for inclusion on the


order and remove ministers from my department from making decisions.


I'm alert to the fact the Scottish government has good reasons for


proposing these changes and I understand there has been a number


of other wide-ranging public sector reforms, one example is the


integration of health and social care partnership arrangements across


Scotland. As one of the Scottish government flagship public sector


reform policies, I am sure they are keen to ensure the transition to new


arrangement is implemented as smoothly as possible. However, her


Majesty is government has a clear position on UK employment matters


and it is this that employment matters are reserved and as such


DCLG has no plans to devolve any functions of the redundancy


modification order to the Scottish government. This decision was


communicated to the Secretary of State for Scotland before the


general election and I am happy to write directly to the Scottish


government ministers to confirm this. I thank him for his answers


and while I'm disappointed with devolution, can he address the point


and made to how this order can be updated because a over six years for


this Scottish organisations is utterly unacceptable. I will respond


to him in just one moment. I would like to finish the point I was


making about the potential or request, the request that had been


made to devolve this matter to the Scottish government. I would add to


my comments that I am keen to work with the Scottish government to


further explore these matters, in particularly to identify if there


are any other options available to achieve a successful outcome for all


parties and therefore I propose in the first instance my officials and


their counterparts from the Scotland office and the Scottish government


meet as soon as possible to better understand the concerns of the


Scottish government. Now the honourable gentleman, I would


finally like to finish on a couple of points that he raised in relation


to the review. As I said, this is still under review and I understand


the honourable gentleman's frustration with that but it is


important we do get this issue right. His right to say that this


matter could have come before this house before now but obviously in


relation to how things have developed we have just had a general


election and as you can imagine as a consequence of that there are a


number of policies that my department are currently dealing


with and we have two particularly we have heard the previous debates and


the challenges the Department has had to deal with as a consequence of


the awful Grenfell fire, for example so we are in the process of looking


at this but we do have two prioritise certain things in the


department. In terms of whether it can be retrospective or not, once


the redundancy modification order is updated, that is a question that


will have to be answered through the review. So, I thank him for taking


his time to raise this important matter, I would be grateful if you


provide me with further details in relation to the constituent he


mentioned and we will be taking this review forward in due course. The


question is that this house to now adjourn. As many of that opinion say


aye, the contrary, say no. The ayes have it. Order order!


New laws start their journey in the House of Commons or the House of


Lords. Both Houses of Parliament must agree on the final version of a


bill before it can come into force. Let's say Bill starts


Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons including (estimated timings):

12.45pm-1.30pm statement on the humanitarian situation in Iraqi city of Mosul. 1.30pm-5.00pm general debate on the Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry.