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The terms of the Grenfell Tower inquiry is a “complete betrayal” and the community will not have faith in it, it has been claimed.
Emma Dent Coad, Labour MP for Kensington, said the public inquiry “will not get to the heart of the problem”, and attacked it for failing to reference social housing.
Her comments came as the probe’s terms of reference to be considered were released, which were set out but the Prime Minster following recommendations from Sir Martin Moore-Bick.
It will examine the actions of authorities before the blaze, including Kensington and Chelsea Council, and how the aftermath was handled.
But the probe, which will be led by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Moore-Bick, will stop short of scrutinising broader social concerns.
This has caused outrage among some politicians and campaign groups.
Theresa May said the problem would not be “unanswered” as she has allocated Housing Minister Alok Sharma to review social housing. But Ms Dent Coad said the development was “precisely what we feared”.
She said: “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.
“The Government has delegated this responsibility to an in-house team. We have 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.”
The MP also criticised the apparent speed of Tuesday’s announcement, coming less than two weeks since the public consultation closed, having received more than 550 submissions.
She continued: “How can the community possibly have faith in an inquiry with terms of reference so hastily determined by the Prime Minister and her Government?
“It is a complete betrayal of everything we were promised. Clearly, the Government are running scared.”
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said on Twitter: “Deeply unsatisfactory for PM to set Grenfell Inquiry terms of ref to exclude housing policy failings – closing off criticism of govt policy.”
With the terms of reference announced, the inquiry has officially begun and will hold its first hearing on September 14, with an initial report by Easter.
Sir Martin will also scrutinise the “adequacy” of building regulations, the recent refurbishment of the block and the causes of the fire, the Government said.
He suggested in a letter recommending the scope of the inquiry that social housing policy should not be included.
The Prime Minister accepted in full the recommendations, but said: “I am determined that the broader questions raised by this fire – including around social housing – are not left unanswered.
“We are taking action, with the Housing Minister meeting social housing tenants to discuss the challenges they face and we will be setting out further proposals in due course.”
Survivors and campaigners had pressed for systemic issues underlying the cause of the tragedy on June 14 to be scrutinised.
Addressing these concerns, the Government said Mr Sharma will meet as many social tenants as possible, both in the west London neighbourhood and across the country, to build up a picture of the issues confronting them and work out a national approach.
Joe Delaney, who has worked with the Grenfell Action Group and was evacuated from an adjoining block after the fire, said the scope seemed “decent enough”.
He said: “The terms of reference seem wide enough to be able to cover the immediate causes of the Grenfell Tower disaster but won’t cover wider issues regarding social housing.
“Whilst I think such a debate should be had, I don’t think Moore-Bick’s inquiry is the forum.
“However, it is vital that Moore-Bick’s inquiry covers relevant issues in detail and with a thoroughness that will ensure that all those responsible are identified.”
Justice4Grenfell, one of the campaign groups working with survivors, said it was pleased that Sir Martin had taken on board residents’ concerns, but voiced concern at the absence of wider issues.
Despite previous indications that the group could withhold support from the inquiry, spokeswoman Yvette Williams said it could consider working with Sir Martin if he appointed community advisers.
She said: “When Moore-Bick first came down he said he was only going to go for something narrow and so it is good that he has listened to the community voice in terms of broadening those terms of reference.
“If he makes an announcement ASAP that he will have a team of community advisers on that panel, then we will start to develop some more trust in the process.
“He is not looking at the broader social issues for one, which we think is majorly central to this situation, and if he goes on with no community advisory rep, we would have a lot to say about that.”
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