Lord Clark of Windermere (Lab) [V]
My Lords, I thank the Minister for all the work he has done in fighting this terrible pandemic. I wish him well with all his efforts in future, but perhaps I can be a little critical of details today, because underpinning this SI are the basic nuts and bolts which make the system work—and they are creaking in places.
We sometimes do not realise that there is a difference between guidelines, which are what Ministers would like us to do but do not have the force of law, and regulations, which do have that force. As we have gone through the tiers created by the Government over the past year, some of the issues have been about guidelines and some about regulations. Let me give a couple of simple examples.
Colleagues will recollect that at the beginning of the year, two women were handed fixed penalty notices by Derbyshire police for reportedly travelling five miles for exercise. The police force subsequently stated that it was reviewing the action based on new national guidelines, but the issuance of the notice was still supported by the Health Secretary, although it did not have the force of law. Then of course we had a similar case—I am not making this as a political point—when the Prime Minister was cycling 18 kilometres to ride around a park in London. I have no trouble at all with that, but the issue is that it causes problems on a wider scale, and with tragic results.
I live in a national park. As I look out of the window, the snow is falling—the hills are covered in snow. Although people have guidelines that the Government’s wish is that they should not drive to the Lake District, but they do. Every weekend, they are still driving regularly from Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Kent and London. That is not illegal, but they are not allowed to spend the night. How do you trap people who are sometimes spending the night?
We had a tragic incident this last weekend involving the mountain rescue, which has been called out several times, when two young men went camping on the mountains above Kirkstone Pass. One of them got chest pains and called the mountain rescue in the middle of the night—it was two in the morning. One member of the mountain rescue slipped and fell; he has very serious injuries.
However, the police cannot stop people driving in to camp. Once they have camped, they can be issued with penalty notices because that is in a regulation: you cannot stay overnight in an area such as this. I am arguing that there needs to be some consistency in the regulations and guidelines so that we know where we stand, and that the police also know what they can and cannot do.