On Thursday, Mary spoke in a back bench business debate to acknowledge the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Remembering the fire that killed 72 residents of Grenfell Tower, Mary joined calls from other MPs to make sure that there was an annual debate to commemorate the anniversary in Parliament every year.

Mary offered the thoughts of everyone in Durham to everyone who died and their loved ones.

Whenever I see images of that charred building, I cannot help but think about the innocent children, women and men who died that night, and the panic they must have felt as they realised that they would not survive. My thoughts, like those of everyone in Durham, I am sure, are with the 72 people who died and their loved ones, now and always. The Grenfell fire did not just take lives; it tore a warm and loving community apart.

Mary also acknowledged work of Emma Dent Coad, the MP for Kensington between 2017 and 2019, paying tribute to the work she did in the constituency in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Reflecting on the lessons learned, Mary said

What upsets me most about the Grenfell fire is that it was all so sickeningly avoidable. These 72 people did not lose their lives because of a faulty fridge—they died because those in positions of power were more committed to austerity, to deregulation and to privatisation than they were to ensuring that human beings were safe, and because certain companies were motivated by greed over decency. I despaired as I read how a building that was home to so many people came to be wrapped in a material that manufacturers knew was highly flammable. I was disgusted to learn that private contractors celebrated as corners were cut and money was saved.

It is staggering how many times fire building safety regulations have been watered down and stripped away by Governments in the name of the removal of red tape and the reduction of burdens on businesses, while key processes to regulate and inspect fire and building safety have been privatised, thereby lowering standards and weakening precious protections.

You can read Mary’s full speech below or by accessing Hansard:

 

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds East (Richard Burgon) for securing this important debate, and I echo his call for an annual debate in this place. It is great to see Emma Dent Coad in the Gallery listening to this debate today, and it is good to be in the debate with the hon. Member for Kensington (Felicity Buchan).

I think we all remember that awful morning five years ago in June. I felt physically sick as I watched Grenfell Tower burn. Whenever I see images of that charred building, I cannot help but think about the innocent children, women and men who died that night, and the panic they must have felt as they realised that they would not survive. My thoughts, like those of everyone in Durham, I am sure, are with the 72 people who died and their loved ones, now and always. The Grenfell fire did not just take lives; it tore a warm and loving community apart. It is to the immense credit of the survivors and local residents that they have found the strength to rally together and fight to ensure that lessons are learned and that justice is done. They have my complete solidarity. Before I move on, I also pay tribute to the heroic efforts of the firefighters and emergency responders who worked tirelessly that night. I will never forget the image of the exhausted firefighters slumped outside the tower as they gathered their energy once more. Firefighters regularly risk their lives for our safety, and we should never forget their service.

We should not forget that those who died in Grenfell that night were primarily minorities, asylum seekers, migrants, the disabled and the poor. These are the people that our society values the least, and for the residents in Grenfell the value placed on their safety was nowhere near enough. The leadership of Kensington and Chelsea Council, which was at the time the richest borough in the country, with hundreds of millions of pounds in reserves, chose to use combustible cladding because it was marginally cheaper than the safer alternative. When concerns were repeatedly raised by residents that the building was unsafe in the weeks leading up to the fire, they were ignored.

 

As Grenfell resident Lee Chapman told the inquiry: “as residents in a so-called ‘social housing block’, we were treated as sub-citizens”.

In 2019, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) said, “Grenfell Tower would not have happened to wealthy Londoners. It happened to poor and mainly migrant Londoners.”

Sadly, he was right. And what upsets me most about the Grenfell fire is that it was all so sickeningly avoidable. These 72 people did not lose their lives because of a faulty fridge—they died because those in positions of power were more committed to austerity, to deregulation and to privatisation than they were to ensuring that human beings were safe, and because certain companies were motivated by greed over decency. I despaired as I read how a building that was home to so many people came to be wrapped in a material that manufacturers knew was highly flammable. I was disgusted to learn that private contractors celebrated as corners were cut and money was saved.

It is staggering how many times fire building safety regulations have been watered down and stripped away by Governments in the name of the removal of red tape and the reduction of burdens on businesses, while key processes to regulate and inspect fire and building safety have been privatised, thereby lowering standards and weakening precious protections. As the Fire Brigades Union has pointed out, since 2010 the slavish commitment of Conservative Governments to pursue austerity at whatever cost has seen a staggering 20% of frontline firefighter jobs lost, including those of at least a quarter of fire inspectors. Listening to this, can anyone honestly say that the path of deregulation, privatisation and austerity has made society safer?

Most troubling of all is the fact that five years after 72 people died as a result of corporate greed and institutional failure, so little has changed. So far, no one has been prosecuted, safety regulations are still inadequate and less than 1% of buildings have had their dangerous cladding removed. Like many in this House, I anxiously await the full findings of the inquiry and the outcome of the ongoing criminal investigations. Until those inquiries are complete, the response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy is defined by a few powerful numbers: five years, 72 dead and zero convictions—a reminder that we can never stop fighting for justice.

Link to Instagram Link to Twitter Link to YouTube Link to Facebook Link to LinkedIn Link to Snapchat Close Fax Website Location Phone Email Calendar Building Search