When is one life more important than another?
Or, to put more starkly, when is it permissible to risk people burning to death in their own homes, but others must be protected?
According to this government the answer seems to be: We will protect MPs by installing sprinklers, but everyone else can take their chances.
Grenfell survivors and the friends and families of the victims are rightly outraged that parliament is to spend a reported £1.3million to fit sprinklers in parliament.
At the same time councils across the country say that the Tory government has refused to provide resources to fit sprinklers in tower blocks.
Overall, the fire safety package for parliament is said to amount to £118million.
The need for sprinklers, and for more firefighters, could hardly be more urgent.
Recently, the London Fire Brigade said there was a ‘lack of competence’ in the current system of building regulations on fire safety and how it needs to be a priority at every stage.
This incompetence includes planning, architecture, approval and maintenance of large buildings.
It arises because the fire brigade has been largely carved out and the private sector has been allowed to control the process.
Grenfell shows that to protect people’s lives all tower blocks must be retro-fitted with sprinklers as a matter of urgency.
The Chief Fire Officers’ Association supports it, as do the Fire Brigades. Only the government and its terrible priorities stand in the way.
Labour is committed to installing sprinkler systems in every tower block. We have also committed to begin reversing Tory cuts to the fire service, by adding 3,000 additional firefighters.
Theresa May likes to talk about tackling ‘burning injustices’. But this is a shoddy government of burning injustices. If it cannot change, then it should rapidly make way for Labour.
We will do everything we can to protect all our citizens.
Diane Abbott is the shadow home secretary and Labour MP for Hackney North