John McDonnell MP
I have been listening to the debate and the various interventions. A question asked consistently in interventions from Conservative Members has been whether it is not best to put things right rather than act quickly. I remind those Members, as others have, that it is now four years on from Grenfell. Four years is a timescale in which we should have been able to address this issue and given people security and some form of confidence.
Confidence has been shattered by the failure to include in the legislation the recommendations from the first phase of the Grenfell inquiry. I share the view of the Fire Brigades Union that the Government seem to be doing the bare minimum to fend off bad headlines. I have not the eloquence to speak on behalf of my constituents and portray just how strongly they feel about this matter. They are really very angry—and, I have to say, distressed. They feel not only at risk but that their lives have been put on hold by their inability to sell their properties and move from them.
We have heard today about the £5 billion that the Government have allocated; my constituents, like those of other Members, are asking what happens if the money runs out—the costs so far have been estimated to be nearer £15 billion. In addition to that, just as the hon. Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) said, the money will not cover many of the defects that have now been found and the additional measures that have been demanded and required. My constituents are now being hit with potential bills from the developers—including the worst, Ballymore—for things such as rectifying wooden balconies and other defects that were not of their making. The idea of waiting for the Building Safety Bill is like “Waiting for Godot”, what with the time it takes to get the right type of Bill and then get the legislation through and implemented.
My constituents in lower-rise blocks do not see why they are being discriminated against. My constituents were blameless. They were failed by developers, regulators, suppliers of materials, inspectors—all of them. Many of those developers made fortunes out of developments in my constituency; it is they who should pay the cost of their own failures. I urge urgency, which is why I will support all the amendments that would protect leaseholders from being burdened with the debt caused by others who have failed us all.