POLITICS

Government Ministers Have Been Dodging Questions About Grenfell Tower

'I am appalled that the British Government is so reluctant to disclose information.'

09/08/2017 16:37 BST

Government ministers sidestepped questions about the Grenfell Tower disaster using “generic stock responses”. 

Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts tabled ten parliamentary questions about how authorities responded to the fire, which has claimed the lives of at least 80 people.

Each got exactly the same response from Housing Minister Alok Sharma, saying the query was “for the public inquiry to consider”.

PA Wire/PA Images
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid ignored a letter about Grenfell Tower 

A letter she also wrote to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, probing how Government and Kensington and Chelsea council handled the tragedy, was ignored altogether.  

The party’s home affairs spokeswoman said on Wednesday: “The people affected by the horrific disaster in Grenfell Tower deserve answers to these very basic questions and I am appalled that the British Government is so reluctant to disclose information.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Alok Sharma has been busy copying and pasting 

She asked the Department for Communities and Local Government whether or not Kensington and Chelsea Council implemented an emergency disaster plan on June 13, the night of the disaster.

A further nine PQs, seeking answers on issues ranging from what information the Government holds on whether the council maintained lists of empty flats to whether the council posted its emergency disaster plan online, were tabled. 

They were all met with the same reply from Sharma: 

“Help for the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster continues to be the top priority and we are determined that they should have the support that they need, including offers of appropriate and good quality accommodation and by making financial and emotional support available. We also want to see the justice is done, and to ensure that other buildings around the country are safe. 

“Questions about the conduct and internal arrangements of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea will be for the public inquiry to consider.”

PA Wire/PA Images
At least 80 people were killed in the fire 

The MP’s letter to Javid was sent on July 7 and asked for further information on Grenfell Tower and the process followed. She said it got no response at all. 

Saville Roberts said: “We know that local authorities are all supposed to have an emergency disaster plan for situations such as these so it is a perfectly reasonable question to ask whether Kensington and Chelsea had theirs in place and whether they implemented it on the night. That the Government replies with such evasion, and with the same answer to every single question is shameful.

“I am not interested in catching out the Government, I’m interested in understanding what happened, why it happened, why the victims were treated so badly and what we should be doing to make sure it never happens again.

Liz Saville Roberts
Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts

“Not only are the answers we are getting to Parliamentary Questions being batted away with generic stock responses, letters to the Secretary of State are not being answered at all.

“The way in which the Secretary of State is dealing with this is unacceptable and the public, including those affected by the disaster in Grenfell Tower and other members of the public who are worried about their own accommodation or even their schools or hospital buildings, deserve answers.”

A public inquiry led by the retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick is due to get underway later this year.