The Grenfell Tower fire has shocked and appalled us all. Words cannot convey the horror I felt on seeing television footage of the catastrophe nor the emotion that comes from hearing those who have lost family and friends.
I have deep respect for the many in the local community who at risk to themselves went to the aid of others and for our firefighters. Firefighters who were on the scene within 6 minutes of the 999 call did absolutely everything they could to save the lives of residents.
Following the tragedy I have been in contact with the local authority and social housing sector and a construction specialist familiar with the type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower. I wanted to confirm that they are not aware of the same circumstances existing locally and I wanted to hear that leading providers of social housing are reviewing their fire prevention approach to ensure that immediate concerns provoked by the Grenfell Tower disaster are being addressed.
There are no significantly high rise residential tower blocks locally and I am not currently aware of the same type of cladding being used in a similar fashion within the constituency. However if individual residents raise any concerns with me I will take them up to ensure they receive urgent reassurance.
When Grenfell Tower was constructed in the 1970s a fire spreading like it did was meant to be impossible. We need to understand exactly what went wrong and why. The Prime Minister has ordered a full, judge-led public inquiry, which will investigate what happened and who was responsible for the disaster, to give people the answers they deserve. The voices of survivors must be heard and I welcome the Government's commitment to pay for legal representation for those affected. An independent expert advisory panel has also been appointed to advise the Government on any immediate action that should be taken on fire safety. I will take a close interest in the Grenfell Tower enquiry, I want to see it underway and the results implemented as quickly as humanly possible. We all continue to grieve with those who have lost loved ones in this awful tragedy.
The Government has been working with local government officials and organisations including Transport for London, Citizens Advice, the Red Cross, and the NHS, to provide support to the victims. We are hugely grateful to those involved which have included local people, with whom I have been in contact for first hand reports. I have been assured by the Government that nobody will be forced to move somewhere they do not want to go.
A new £5 million Grenfell Tower Residents' Discretionary Fund has also been made immediately available to help those who had to flee their homes. Every household whose home has been destroyed will receive a guaranteed £5,500 minimum down payment from the fund. This money could be used to cover loss of possessions, funerals and emergency supplies. I understand that the fund will be kept under review and will increase if necessary.
Thank you once again for taking the time to contact me.