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Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Terms of Reference

Volume 628: debated on Thursday 14 September 2017

On 15 August 2017, 1 announced the formal setting up of a public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, to be chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, and its terms of reference. This followed Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s letter to me of 10 August, which advised me of the outcome of the public consultation on the scope of the terms of reference, and his recommendations. I was happy to accept Sir Martin’s recommendations without amendment.

The inquiry’s full terms of reference are:

to examine the circumstances surrounding the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017, including the immediate cause or causes of the fire and the means by which it spread to the whole of the building;

the design and construction of the building and the decisions relating to its modification, refurbishment and management;

the scope and adequacy of building regulations, fire regulations and other legislation, guidance and industry practice relating to the design, construction, equipping and management of high-rise residential buildings;

whether such regulations, legislation, guidance and industry practice were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower and the fire safety measures adopted in relation to it;

the arrangements made by the local authority or other responsible bodies for receiving and acting upon information either obtained from local residents or available from other sources (including information derived from fires in other buildings) relating to the risk of fire at Grenfell Tower, and the action taken in response to such information;

the fire prevention and fire safety measures in place at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017;

the response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire; and

the response of central and local government in the days immediately following the fire; and

to report its findings to the Prime Minister as soon as possible and to make recommendations.

Sir Martin has said that he is considering appointing assessors to assist him in his task. He considers it likely that he shall wish to appoint a diverse group of people whose experience extends to the occupation and management of social housing and the administration of local government more generally, as well as to matters of a more technical scientific nature. He also states that at a later stage, he may also wish to appoint others to assist on particular aspects of the investigation. He will make his decisions public in due course. I have not appointed any other members to the inquiry panel at this stage. However, the Inquiries Act 2005 allows for appointments to be made, with the consent of Sir Martin, during the course of the inquiry. This enables the composition of the inquiry panel to be kept under review.

My exchange of correspondence with Sir Martin is in the Library of the House.

Sir Martin is holding a preliminary hearing later today where he will set out further detail on how he intends on conducting the inquiry.

In addition to the work of the inquiry, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has already announced an independent review into building regulations and fire safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt. This will urgently assess the effectiveness of current building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement issues, with a focus on multi-occupancy high-rise residential buildings. The review will co-operate fully with the inquiry. Sir Martin has set out his reasons for not looking into the broader social housing issues but, as he said in his letter, they should not be ignored and I am determined that these important questions are not left unanswered. As a first step, I have asked my hon. Friend the Housing Minister (Alok Sharma) to personally meet and hear from as many social tenants as possible, as well as other residents of social housing estates, both in the immediate area around Grenfell Tower and across the country. The Housing Minister has already met a number of representative groups and will continue to meet tenants during October and November.