London fire: MPs demand answers over London fire

Theresa May visits Grenfell TowerImage copyright

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Theresa May spoke to emergency workers when she visited the scene

MPs have demanded urgent answers over the deadly London tower block fire.

Special arrangements have been made to allow them to debate the tragedy despite Parliament being suspended.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said residents were angry their safety concerns had not been listened to.

The housing minister said safety checks would take place on other buildings and the fire minister said the “exceptionally complex” investigation would take several months.

Rescuers do not expect to find anyone else alive in Grenfell Tower, north Kensington. Police said 17 people had been confirmed dead but that was expected to rise.

A judge-led public inquiry has been announced by Prime Minister Theresa May.

At the start of the special meeting in Westminster’s Grand Committee Room, Mr Hurd said: “What we are dealing with here is a national tragedy.”

Shadow housing minister John Healey urged ministers to begin installing sprinkler systems immediately and not to wait for the result of the public inquiry.

Mr Corbyn said he was “very angry” about the way the fire spread and how the community had been left “traumatised”.

Residents he met had raised concerns about safety and had not received any answers, he said.

Mr Corbyn said people left homeless by the fire should be rehoused locally.

Fire Minister Nick Hurd said he was “very aware” of the need for this.

The new housing minister, Alok Sharma, said he too had heard accounts of residents who said they had warned about fire safety.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the scene on Thursday

The government was talking to councils and housing associations about getting checks on other buildings done quickly, he said.

Earlier Theresa May ordered a full public inquiry, “to ensure that this terrible tragedy is properly investigated”.

Labour is calling for measures recommended after another fatal fire in 2009 to be implemented immediately.

Questions have been raised about why the fire spread so quickly and whether the advice given to residents was correct – they were told to stay put and wait to be rescued.

Attention has also focused on recommendations made in 2013 after a fire in a tower block in Lakanal House in Camberwell in 2009 in which six people died.

These included installing sprinkler systems in high-risk buildings and reviewing building regulations.

In October the former Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, said the government had “publicly committed” to reviewing building regulations in relation to fire safety after the Lakanal House fire.

Mr Healey said this review had “not been started”.

“The residents and others have some really serious questions to put to ministers and the people who run the building,” he said.

Responding to reports, the Department for Communities and Local Government said it was “simply not true” that a report about building regulations had been “sat on”.

Media captionLondon fire: PM orders full public inquiry

In her statement announcing the judge-led public inquiry, Mrs May said: “We need to know what happened, we need to have an explanation of this – we owe that to the families, to the people who have lost loved ones, friends and the homes in which they lived.”

The PM visited the scene of the fire on Thursday morning. She was briefed by the emergency services and met front-line staff.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also visited, meeting local clergy and volunteers helping with the recovery operation.

“We have to get to the bottom of this,” he told one of the community leaders.

“The truth has got to come out and it will.”

Parliament cannot officially meet until the Queen’s Speech has been delivered on 21 June.

The Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent review into fire safety and building regulations.


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