I fully support the need for a public inquiry into the causes of the Grenfell Fire, and the need for early interim reports that identify immediate actions that must be taken to protect everyone living in tower blocks.
By the Prime Minister’s own admission, there has been a catastrophic failure by the local and national state in the response to the fire.
The public inquiry must establish the extent of the state’s failure and identify those responsible. The police inquiry into any criminal liabilities held by individuals or companies must also be pursued and any charges brought as soon as is humanly possible. It is also the case that any policy or legislative failures by local or national politicians must also be uncovered and those individuals held to account.
At least 79 people are dead, yet every single one of those deaths could have been avoided. Residents raised concerns, but they were not listened to. From Hillsborough, to the child sex abuse scandal, to Grenfell Tower the pattern is consistent. The voices of those without power are ignored and their concerns dismissed by those in power.
Lessons must be learned in the public inquiry, but unlike too many inquiries, any recommendations following its findings must be implemented in full.
Indeed, the government should act now and implement the recommendations of the 2013 inquiry report following the Lakanal House fire. Lives could have been saved if those recommendations had have been implemented in full and if the recommendations of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on fire safety had been heeded by government.
To do so, the government should make available emergency funds so that councils can carry out fire safety checks and install sprinklers wherever they are required.
The fire took place in London, but the implications are national, and national action is required. I will do everything possible to hold the government to account on this vital issue.