Jeremy Corbyn: State should seize 'luxury' properties to help those left homeless by Grenfell blaze

Posted On: 
15th June 2017

Jeremy Corbyn has called on the Government to take control of empty "luxury" properties owned by overseas investors to help those left homeless by the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Jeremy Corbyn comforts a local resident at St Clement's Church in west London, where volunteers have provided shelter and support for people affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader said ministers must "requisition" the houses to make sure those affected by the tragedy can still live locally.

He spoke out as MPs met for the first time to debate the aftermath of the inferno, which has so far left 17 people dead with the number of fatalities expected to rise considerably.

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Because parliament will not officially return until the Queen's Speech next Wednesday, members had to gather in Westminster Hall in order to quiz fire minister Nick Hurd and housing minister Alok Sharma on the Government's response to the devastating fire in Kensington, west London.

Mr Corbyn said he was left "very angry" after visiting the scene of the tragedy earlier today and meeting local residents, who had warned for years that the block was a safety hazard.

He said: "Kensington is a tale of two cities. The south part of Kensington is incredibly wealthy, it's the wealthiest part of the whole country.

"The ward where this fire took place is, I think, the poorest ward in the whole country and properties must be found - requisitioned if necessary - to make sure those residents do get re-housed locally.

"It can't be acceptable that in London we have luxury buildings and luxury flats left empty as land banking for the future while the homeless and the poor look for somewhere to live. We have to address these issues."

Mr Corbyn was backed by David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham.

Anger also erupted after the first half of the 90-minute debate was not broadcast by the parliamentary authorities.

Mr Corbyn said: "It's not satisfactory that we should be meeting in Westminster Hall while only half of it is recorded on camera."

He demanded that ministers report to parliament when it resumes next week to update MPs on what steps they are taking in reaction to the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Theresa May - who also visited the site of the fire today, although she did not meet with residents - has ordered a public inquiry into the blaze.

She said: "Right now, people want answers, and it’s absolutely right and that’s why I am today ordering a full public inquiry into this disaster.

"We need to know what happened, we need to have an explanation of this, we owe that to the families, to the people who have lost loved ones, friends and the homes in which they lived."