On 26th June 2017, a Government statement on the Grenfell Tower fire was repeated in the House of Lords by Lord Bourne. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, responded to the statement by emphasising the importance of learning lessons from the response of faith communities.
Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his comments about the voluntary sector. In the lessons learned exercise, will research be done to understand exactly why the voluntary and faith sector was so good at responding and could organise teams within four hours to distribute things, compared with the local authority response? Will lessons be learned about the why the concerns raised by the residents in the months—indeed, years—beforehand were never listened to, and in the future will tenants be listened to more appropriately? Finally, what can the Government do about the speed of the submission of samples by landlords, which is woefully slow?
Lord Bourne: My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate for those points. First, perhaps I might, through him, congratulate the faith sector more widely, and indeed the charity sector and the voluntary sector. I do not think this is limited to Grenfell Tower, but it is true that often Governments and local authorities—the public sector in general—are not always trusted as much as the local faith, charity and third sector, which is local, trusted and more responsive. I have seen the same thing in relation to some of the dreadful terrorist incidents we have had, most recently in Finsbury Park. That is certainly true there.
The right reverend Prelate mentioned the concerns of tenants not being listened to over time. Of course, that will be looked at again by the inquiry. I do not want to prejudice that by coming out with statements but concerns raised by tenants should always be listened to. The tenants are the people who know about this. He then asked about the slow response, was it? I am sorry.
Bishop of Durham: The Minister said that landlords are being very slow to send in samples.
Lord Bourne: Yes, in repeating the Statement. That is certainly the case. We are talking to the LGA, which is a very helpful partner and is following up on some of these. The testing is quite quick. We need to make sure that some of the local authorities are coming up with the material for us to test. With the LGA, we are following that up.