IN my maiden speech to Parliament back in May 2015, I stated that the first duty of any Government is the security of their citizens. By this, I didn’t mean replacing weapons of mass destruction as a deterrent against an unlikely nuclear attack, but the real security that comes from knowing you can keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

This week, in my first speech since being re-elected, I felt the need to make this point once again. “Grenfell is not just about fire regulations but inequality,” I said.

The recent tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire has rightly given rise to much debate over fire regulations, but there is a deeper context in which it should be viewed — one of increasing inequality across the UK.

What Grenfell so cruelly exposed is that when citizens’ safety is at stake, some people are more vulnerable than others.

We don’t need to wait for the outcome of the forthcoming public enquiry to know that the inhabitants were utterly failed by their local authority using cheap cladding and failing to install sprinklers, and by successive UK governments failing to act on previous warnings.

In Irvine, in my own constituency, a tower block fire in 1999 cost the life of a disabled man and led to an inquiry which blamed the type of cladding used and a lack of sprinklers.

This is why in Scotland sprinklers must be fitted in any new building above 18m (whereas in England it is 30m) and why no council or housing association tower blocks in Scotland have been found with aluminium composite panels, while in London and across England over 600 tower blocks have been found with these panels.

The rules in England only call for ‘limited combustability’ in panel materials rather than non-combustible materials and, so far, all internal insulation materials tested have failed there.

The inquiry into the 1999 Irvine fire was held at Westminster and the advice from the Lakanal fire of 2009 was similar — yet no significant action was taken.

Social injustice and inequality in our society are leading to the premature deaths of vulnerable, impoverished people.

The burnt out tower stands like a black monolith, casting its shadow over London and standing as an indictment on successive Governments for their failure to act to make homes safer, not just look better on the outside.

However, the people of Grenfell were not just failed by fire regulations but by the inequality in our society.

While the victims of the fire died in a sudden and horrific tragedy, vulnerable people are dying prematurely every day because of inequality. There is a 20 year difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest across the UK.

An estimated 1,400 children die every year as a direct result of poverty and deprivation - that is the equivalent of an entire secondary school of children dying every year in one of the richest countries in the world.

One in ten children is facing severe food insecurity and three million children are suffering from hunger during school holidays, and these numbers are increasing. They face blighted lives as hunger, malnutrition, damp housing and the stress of struggling just to live take toll on physical and mental health as well as limiting their opportunities and life chances.

Yet, this UK Government continues to pursue an agenda of austerity which is driving more and more families into poverty building. In the last five years, we have had two Welfare Acts, cutting support to already vulnerable people — the disabled, female pensioners, lone parents and, of course, their children.

In the long run, such failure to support those in need and invest in our children costs society more through their subsequent reliance on public services.

The biggest driver of ill health is poverty and the biggest driver of poverty is the austerity of the Tory led Governments we have had for the last seven years.

Tragically, nothing we heard in the Queen’s Speech debate suggests the Tories are planning to change course any time soon.

Clearly, this Tory UK Government does not consider its duty to protect citizens should apply equally to the poor and the vulnerable.