Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, has today written to the Prime Minister regarding the decision to hold a full and independent public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower.
Jeremy Corbyn said:
“Whilst the inquiry should be limited to the awful events at Grenfell Tower, it must be empowered to consider all the steps that were, or were not, taken leading up to and contributing to this most terrible incident. It must also identify the urgent steps that need to be taken in relation to fire safety standards for other buildings of this nature.
“In addition to finding facts, the inquiry must be empowered to make recommendations for the avoidance of any similar future disaster – and in so doing, to consider recommendations arising from previous similar fire-related deaths.”
The full text of the letter is reproduced below.
Theresa May 16 June 2017
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to note your decision to hold a full and independent public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower and to seek your assurance that the inquiry you establish will be held under the provisions of the 2005 Inquiries Act.
On the assumption that it is your intention to establish a 2005 Act Inquiry, I want to share my view that it is vital that the Terms of Reference be drawn with sufficient scope for the inquiry to establish all the relevant facts and to ensure that all necessary lessons are learned. Whilst the inquiry should be limited to the awful events at Grenfell Tower, it must be empowered to consider all the steps that were, or were not, taken leading up to and contributing to this most terrible incident. It must also identify the urgent steps that need to be taken in relation to fire safety standards for other buildings of this nature.
In addition to finding facts, the inquiry must be empowered to make recommendations for the avoidance of any similar future disaster – and in so doing, to consider recommendations arising from previous similar fire-related deaths.
It is very important that the Terms of Reference are drawn with sufficient scope to require the participation of all those with a legitimate interest – this should undoubtedly include the bereaved families, survivors and also individuals and organisations with a legitimate interest such as the residents’ campaign and representative organisations who were involved in the period leading up to these events. Their views and experiences are as important, if not more so, as the expert opinions of state actors and their service providing contractors.
I am also very concerned to ensure that this public inquiry is not used to delay any parallel actions which might be taken by interested parties. It is important that justice is served in as comprehensive and timely way possible. This must include, of course, ensuring that legal funding is available to support those involved in the inquiry and any inquests. I would also like to support the request of the Mayor of London for an interim report to be produced which I believe is important for the community to feel as if justice is being done in a timely manner.
Whilst I believe that the policies and priorities of your government in the arenas of social housing and public safety are legitimate targets for my criticism, I hope we both share a determination to discover the truths underpinning this tragedy so to avoid any repetition. For these reasons, in support of my hope to publicly welcome your decision, I would appreciate early consultation on your government’s proposed inquiry Terms of Reference.
In response to my question yesterday, the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service made it very clear that survivors made homeless would be appropriately and locally rehoused. This is imperative in order that they be enabled to re-build their lives and have some hope of recovery from these devastating events. It now appears that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea may not be as committed to ensuring that all are re-housed locally. Your public re-commitment to this is imperative as part of an unequivocal, wider statement that the government will do all it can to provide timely practical support to those who have suffered so much. In this context, I note the announcement of the first government investment of £5million. Given the magnitude and scale of the crisis, this will clearly not be sufficient and I therefore await information regarding further funding plans.
On a related matter, I believe that an attitude of generosity and compassion in relation to the costs of funeral expenses and ensuring that it is possible for families living outside the UK to travel here to attend funerals, as well as participate in the inquiry, is also warranted in such a tragic situation. This is particularly the case given the circumstances of many of the Grenfell Tower residents, including the number of bereaved families who may be resident overseas and the costs of burial and cremation. As was also raised at yesterday’s brief discussion in the Grand Committee, I would expect that the Home Office guarantees the replacement, as a matter of urgent priority, of all documentation for those affected.
Finally, on behalf of all those in the Labour Party, may I express our admiration for those in the emergency services who responded with the utmost courage and professionalism and share our deepest sorrow at these harrowing events – and commit that we will do all in our power to ensure that this be the last such tragedy of its kind in our country.