LONDON – The terms of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry are “a complete betrayal of everything we were promised,” the Labour MP for Kensington has claimed.
Emma Dent Coad, who has been MP for the constituency since June said that the “the government are running scared” following the June disaster, in which at least 80 people died.
Her comments follow the publication of the terms of reference for the public inquiry which is being led by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick.
The inquiry will attempt to work out the cause of the fire, as well as investigating the actions of Kensington & Chelsea Council before and after the disaster.
However, the terms of reference do not include a broader remit to look into the impact of government policies on social housing.
Dent Coad said: “This announcement is precisely what we feared. We were told ‘no stone would be unturned’ but instead are being presented with a technical assessment which will not get to the heart of the problem: what effects if any the lack of investment into social housing had on the refurbishment project.”
Moore-Bick said in his letter to Prime Minister Theresa May that including social issues would extend the length of the inquiry too much. He said: “The inclusion of such broad questions within the scope of the Inquiry would raise questions of a social, economic and political nature which in my view are not suitable for a judge-led inquiry.”
Dent Coad also criticised the housing minister, saying that she has “no confidence whatever in the ability of Alok Sharma and a few politically compromised individuals to take on the task of answering this most important question. “
She also pointed out that Moore-Bick decided on terms of reference very quickly, and they were agreed by May “over a weekend.”
She said: “How can the community possibly have faith in an Inquiry with terms of reference so hastily determined by the Prime Minister and her government?”
The inquiry will begin with its first hearing on 14 September, and an initial report will be produced by Easter.
Liberal Democrat Local Government spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said: “The voices of Grenfell residents were tragically ignored once, they must not be ignored again. “We must also address the underlying causes, including the chronic neglect of social housing in this country. The failure to use this inquiry to examine these broader issues is a shamefully wasted opportunity.”