Mr Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, became emotional as he recalled his friend Khadija Saye, a 24-year-old woman who is presumed to have died in the blaze which engulfed the tower, where she lived with her mother.
“My friend who lost her life was a talented artist, but she was a young, black woman making her way in this country and she absolutely had no power, or locus, or agency. She had not yet achieved that in her life.
“She’d done amazing things: gone to university, the best in her life. But she’s died with her mother on the 22nd floor of a building. And it breaks my heart that that’s happening in Britain in 2017. Breaks my heart.
“This is a tale of two cities. This is what Dickens was writing about in the century before last, and it’s still here in 2017.”
Mr Lammy, a barrister by profession who grew up on a council estate and became the first black Briton to go to Harvard University, said the tragedy was about more than the fire itself.
Speaking on Channel 4, he said: “For your middle-class viewers, this is about whether the welfare state is just schools and hospitals or whether it’s about having a safety net. I get quite emotional as I say that.
“We need to live in a society where we care for the poorest and the vulnerable. And that means housing. It means somewhere decent to live. It was a noble idea that we built… and it’s falling apart around our eyes. That’s what it’s about.
“And if it’s taken this tragedy to bring that reality home to people, who are lucky enough to live in very different circumstances, then thank God.
“It’s about the welfare state. Do we believe in a safety net or…