THE Government is working 'round the clock' to test hundreds of samples of cladding in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, according to Housing Minister and Reading West MP Alok Sharma.

In a round of interviews this morning he defended the speed of tests which still need to be carried out to hundreds of batches of cladding sent in by local authorities and housing associations 12 days after the fatal fire.

Speaking to BBC Radio he said: "We are literally working round the clock on testing. It's not an issue of capacity, each test takes hours.

"It can be very traumatic when you're asked to leave your home at short notice but we have to be led by the fire safety experts.

"We want to make sure people are safe and we have given very clear advice to local authorities and housing associations to make sure people aren't evacuated unless absolutely necessary.

"On the day of the fire we began contacting local authorities and housing associations because we want to make sure we check everything as quickly as possible.

"Last week I had an opportunity to meet those affected by the Grenfell fire and I was absolutely moved to tears. I have nothing but admiration for the dignity they have shown.

"I can understand people who live in similar high rise buildings and how they want to feel safe."

A fire erupted at the tower block on Wednesday, June 14, the day after the Conservative MP became Housing Minister.

Previously Mr Sharma had been Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific.

Mr Sharma has come under fire, however, for not answering the first time he was asked by Piers Morgan on GMB how many people had perished in the fire. 

Mr Morgan had ripped in to Mr Sharma on Twitter on Sunday night after originally turning down an interview slot on the ITV show. 

Mr Morgan asked Mr Sharma whether the cladding on tower blocks is illegal. Mr Sharma said it was a matter for police investigation. 

But Mr Morgan said 'it's a simple question- you're the housing minister, it's literally your job to know.'