It is a pleasure to follow Liz McInnes. I agreed with every word she uttered.
From next Tuesday, my Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 comes into force. For the first time in this country, everyone in England who is threatened with homelessness or is homeless will have to be assisted by their local authority. This key reform means that no one should be forced to sleep rough on our streets in the future. Later this year, the various different authorities—children’s social services in the case of care leavers, others in the case of armed forces veterans, ex-offenders and NHS hospital patients—will have to refer those for whom they are responsible through this system to ensure that no one is left without a home. The Government still have far more to do to combat the problem of existing rough sleepers, who will not be covered by this particular piece of legislation. However, I hope that the legislation will in time reduce the bill that we pay for temporary accommodation, which currently stands at £1.7 billion a year.
My hon. Friend Paul Maynard is replying to the debate and, in his previous role, he conducted the consultation on disabled access at stations, so I cannot resist the opportunity to remind him that many of my constituents applied for lifts at Stanmore and Canons Park stations. Although that is the responsibility of the Mayor of London, he has singularly failed to deliver on the promise, so I look to my hon. Friend to force him to do so by encouraging his successor, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend Ms Ghani, to provide some funding for this much-needed improvement.
On education in Harrow, I am delighted that Canons High School and Bentley Wood High School for Girls have both received substantial capital funds for improvements. Equally, I strongly support Harrow Council’s application for funding for the rebuilding of Pinner Wood School. It was discovered that the school had been built on a chalk mine, so the council took the sensible decision to demolish and replace it. However, the Government have refused to fund the work, saying that Harrow Council should provide the money from council tax reserves, which is grossly unfair given that the council has taken a sensible decision for the health and safety of the children involved. I also strongly supported the application by Mariposa for a school in my constituency but, regrettably, the Department for Education rejected that sensible and strongly supported application for a school that would have been excellent.
I have applied for an Adjournment debate on my next topic, and I hope to have the opportunity to debate it after Easter, but I will outline it briefly. In 2016, my constituent Shivji Patel was carrying his grandson Kai Khetani while crossing a pedestrian crossing. The lights had gone red and he was struck down by a motorist, Ben Etheridge, who had travelled through the red light and was found to have been using his mobile phone at time of collision. Kai was two at the time and now, two years on, he is partially blind, fed through a tube, unable to communicate and in need of 24-hour care. Despite all that, the motorist concerned, who has impacted Kai’s life forever, was given a two-year suspended sentence, 240 hours of community service, a three-year driving ban and a tag for a period of three months. The driver damaged that poor child’s life forever, and a custodial term is the only sentence that should have been given to him.
Turning to broadband in my constituency, the reality is that many households in Stanmore cannot get access to a decent standard of connection. Everyone thinks that that is a problem only in rural areas, but parts of London still have it despite the extra money provided by the Government.
Mr Speaker, I end by wishing you, the Deputy Speakers, all the staff of the House and all hon. Members not only a very happy Easter, but a very happy Pesach as well.