My Lords, I have a great deal of sympathy with the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara. The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee in its 29th report said:
“We are concerned about the growing complexity of the rules, and in particular about how this complexity may affect the public’s understanding of what is required and people’s willingness to follow new restrictions.”
Is the Minister not concerned about that? During the national lockdown there was a very high level of compliance. People understood what they had to do and why, so they did it. But now it is total chaos: local lockdowns all have their own set of rules, and the regular changes to the national legal requirements mean that people have lost track. They have also lost trust in the legitimacy of the regulations because in some cases they appear to be totally stupid.
For example, in today’s regulations, dancing is forbidden in pubs and restaurants, with some exceptions, and the poor, pressured landlord has the job of enforcing it under pain of fines. At a wedding, only the couple can dance at their reception, of only 15 people, but the couple’s parents cannot dance together even if they live in the same household—this is silly. Who is going to enforce this, because the police certainly cannot?
In pubs, people can sing in groups of six. Indeed, there could be six groups of six if they do not mingle—but you cannot have seven people singing in a great big church. And then, some bright spark in the department has decided this is a great opportunity to ban loud music. I am no fan of loud music, but regulations to protect public health are no place to start banning it. This might have been reasonable if they had said, “outdoors in a residential area”, but they do not. Such things would have been simplified and clarified if there had been proper consultation with local government. Will the Minister promise the House that that will change?