Grenfell anniversary: Public inquiry into Govt handling of building safety scandal is needed
The Liberal Democrats have called for an independent public inquiry into the Government's handling of the building safety scandal on the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Today [14 June] marks five years since 72 residents lost their lives in a fire that engulfed a block of flats in London. In spite of a Government promise that a similar tragedy would never happen again, almost 10,000 tower blocks in England are still considered 'unsafe' due to cladding and other dangerous fire safety defects.
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove was unable to answer how many buildings still have flammable cladding on them when asked last week.
The inquiry would have the power to summon witnesses and require them to give evidence under oath, including current and former government ministers and officials, and demand the disclosure of any relevant official documents and communications.
Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper said:
"The horrific events which led to the loss of 72 people five years ago today will never be forgotten.
"After the tragedy of Grenfell, this Conservative Government said 'never again'. Yet five years on, tens of thousands of people are still trapped in homes which aren't safe and they cannot sell, and lessons have not been learned.
"Families living in homes with unsafe cladding and other dangerous fire safety defects are facing unimaginable stress and anxiety while the remediation programme stutters along at a glacial pace.
"It's simply shameful that five years down the line from this tragic disaster, the big changes needed to stop it from happening again simply have not happened.
"A separate public inquiry into the Government's handling of this building safety crisis is frankly long overdue and is nothing less than what those still living in unsafe homes deserve."
Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Kath Pinnock said:
"My thoughts today are with those families who were left devastated by the loss of a loved one during the Grenfell Tower fire and with all of those families who are still stuck in unsafe buildings through no fault of their own.
"The Conservatives have been failing to force implementation of fire and building safety laws for five years. Their failure to act quickly and decisively in bringing relief to thousands of leaseholders trapped in a nightmare is one of the great stains on this Government.
"With every day that passes, the prospect of another disaster like Grenfell remains. Liberal Democrats will keep fighting to end the building safety scandal and keep fighting for justice for leaseholders and tenants."
Public inquiry into the Government's handling of building safety following Grenfell: A statutory public inquiry, held under the Inquiries Act 2005, could be given powers to compel testimony from witnesses and order the release of written evidence.