The Terms of Reference for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry have been published by the government and may be read on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry website (HERE). The terms are those recommended by the Inquiry Chairman - see page 4 of Sir Martin Moore-Bick's letter to the Prime Minister - (HERE).
Over 550 written responses were received in response to the terms of reference consultation and they are summarised at pages 5 to 7 of Sir Martin Moore-Bick's letter to the Prime Minister.
It is likely that there will be a preliminary hearing in mid-September and, by Easter 2018, an initial report dealing with the cause of the fire and the means by which it spread to the whole building, although the precise timing may depend on how long it takes for the forensic fire investigation to be completed.
The Terms of Reference:
Sir Martin's letter to the Prime Minister states that many people felt strongly that the scope of the inquiry should be very broad and should include an examination of social housing policy and all aspects of the relationship between the residents of the Lancaster West estate on the one hand and the local authority and the tenant management organisation on the other. The closest the terms of reference come to this appears to be item (i) (e) - "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"
Sir Martin's letter also said that many felt strongly that the inquiry should examine whether the response of local and central government to the disaster was and continues to be appropriate or adequate and whether arrangements should have been in place for responding to a disaster of this magnitude. Terms of reference Item (i) (g) will focus the inquiry on the response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire and item (i) (h) will address the more limited issue of - "the response of central and local government in the days immediately following the fire"
Sir Martin's letter explains that some matters are not suitable for a judge-led inquiry but could more appropriately be examined by a different kind of process or body, one which could include persons who have experience of the provision and management of social housing, local government finances and disaster relief planning. It could operate in parallel with the inquiry and would be welcomed by many.
The examination of policy relating to social housing would certainly be a very extensive matter involving taking evidence from sources across the country and the Prime Minister has indicated that government will be considering how best to address this - see Mrs May's letter to Sir Martin. There is a strong case for the government to set up a separate inquiry into social housing policy - The Independent 18th August 2017
The omission from the terms of wider questions relating to social housing has attracted criticism - The Independent 15th August 2017 and also see Inside Housing 17th August (Emma Maier) - Grenfell Inquiry misses important points. Justice for Grenfell (J4G) expressed disappointment that - "the question of social housing especially social cleansing/gentrification will not be addressed in the Inquiry as this remains a critical issue not just for the community of North Kensington but across the country and goes to the heart of a changing ideological approach to social housing and the pursuit of profit rather than provision of safe, affordable, appropriate and adequate housing" -Justice for Grenfell - Response to the terms of reference publication
Sir Martin's letter comments - "The purpose of paragraphs (i) (a)-(h) of the enclosed draft is to identify the main focus on the Inquiry's work without limiting its ability to pursue any avenue of investigation which it considers appropriate."
The use of the word "including" at the end of the first line of the terms of reference is interesting. It may be that the list (a) to (h) is not intended to be exhaustive. It will be for the chairman to determine whether any particular points raised are within the scope of items (a) to (h) but it may prove difficult to go beyond that list because an inquiry has to operate within its terms of reference. The Inquiries Act 2005 section 5(3) permits the terms of reference to be amended later if the Minister "considers that the public interest so requires."
Previous posts relating to Grenfell - HERE
Responses to the consultation:
Various responses have been published. Here are some of them.
Justice for Grenfell - Submission by J4G campaign - The campaign's submission considered that a "fundamental purpose of this inquiry must be to rebuild and restore public confidence in the safety of social housing nationally."
Kensington and Chelsea Social Council
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
Association of Residential Letting Agents
Sir Martin is likely to appoint Assessors - Inquiries Act 2005 section 11.
The Inquiry is formally set up from 15th August 2017 - Inquiries Act 2005 section 5 .
The Prime Minister (as the Minister sponsoring the inquiry) is required to make a statement in Parliament about the terms of reference - Inquiries Act 2005 section 6.
Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG):
The Inquiry's Terms of Reference are
i) To examine the circumstances surrounding the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14th June 2017, including
a) the immediate cause or causes of the fire and the means by which it spread to the whole of the building;
b) Design and construction of the building and the decisions relating to its modification, refurbishment and management;
c) 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;
d) 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;
e) 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;
f) the fire prevention and fire safety measures in place at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017;
g) the response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire; and
h) the response of central and local government in the days immediately following the fire;
(ii) to report its findings to the Prime Minister as soon as possible and to make recommendations.