POLITICS

London Fire: Grenfell Tower Disaster 'Unimaginable And Horrific', Says John Bercow

No Commons statement can be made by a minister.

14/06/2017 15:24

John Bercow has offered his condolences for the “unimaginable and horrific” fire which engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London today.

Six people are confirmed dead as a result of the blaze, but police said that figure was expected to rise.

“All of us will be aware of and horrified by the tragic fire which engulfed the vast majority of an enormous block of flats in London in the early hours of this morning,” the Commons Speaker said. 

He told MPs: “I want also, I am sure with your concurrence, to offer the warmest and most effusive thanks to out magnificent emergency services for coping as best they can in this horrendous situation.”

The fire broke out in the 1974-built block, home to hundreds of people, shortly after 1am. Evacuated residents today claimed that the building’s fire alarm failed to go off.

In usual circumstances it would be expected that a government minister would deliver a statement to the Commons and take questions. However this is not possible as MPs are yet to be sworn in following the election.

Instead, Bercow said a minister would take questions from MPs in another room within the Palace of Westminster.

The Speaker said: “It is not possible to treat of that matter in the way we otherwise I am sure would wish to do in the chamber today.

“The government is very sensitive to the concern that exists on this subject and my very clear understanding is arrangements are in hand for a meeting with the relevant minister to take place within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster.

“That meeting can be attended by colleagues gravely concerned about this matter and no doubt questions can be put to the minister.”

Bercow said: “I just want - I’m sure on behalf of each and every one of you in this chamber - to offer our condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this unimaginable and horrific disaster.”

Jeremy Corbyn has suggested Tory austerity and council cuts could be partly to blame for the disaster.

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