Robert Jenrick says the Government will NOT review lockdown fines issued to people travelling for childcare reasons less than 24 hours after Matt Hancock said he would consider it in wake of Dominic Cummings rowby Jack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline
- Martin Poole had asked Matt Hancock for review at last night's press conference
- Mr Hancock said it was 'perfectly reasonable to take away' and consider request
- Question came in wake of row over Dominic Cummings' journey to Durham
- But Robert Jenrick said this morning Government will not be conducting review
Robert Jenrick today confirmed the Government will not review lockdown fines issued to parents travelling for childcare reasons - less than 24 hours after Matt Hancock said ministers would consider the move.
Mr Hancock, the Health Secretary, was put on the spot over the issue last night at the daily Downing Street press conference, by the Rev Martin Poole, from Brighton.
The vicar's question on reversing penalty notices for families came amid a row over Dominic Cummings' decision to drive 260 miles to Durham because he feared if he and his wife became ill with coronavirus no one could look after their son.
Mr Hancock had said it was 'perfectly reasonable to take away that question' and to discuss it with the Treasury.
But Mr Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, today dashed hopes of fines being lifted as he said 'there isn't going to be a formal review'.
Mr Poole responded to the news by saying it was 'disappointing' to see ministers seemingly 'row back' on Mr Hancock's comments.
Mr Poole had asked at last night's press conference: 'Will the government review all penalty fines imposed on families travelling for childcare purposes during lockdown?'
Mr Hancock replied: 'That is a very good question and we do understand the impact and the need for making sure that children get adequate childcare.
'That is one of the significant concerns that we have had all the way through this.
'So I think especially coming from a man of the cloth I think that is perfectly reasonable to take away that question.
'I will have to talk to my Treasury colleagues before I can answer it in full and we will look at it and if we can get your details we will make sure that we write to you with a full answer and make an announcement from this podium. I think we can make that commitment.'
But within minutes of the press conference coming to an end, Downing Street sources briefed political reporters that there was unlikely to be a review.
Mr Jenrick was then grilled on the issue during an appearance on BBC Breakfast this morning as he said: 'No, there isn't going to be a formal review. It's for the police to decide whether to impose fines under the law.
'They have the guidance that we've provided and the national police chiefs have provided their own guidance which does give officers a degree of discretion to use their common sense, reflecting the fact that all of our circumstances are different and families in particular face particular challenges.
'They are encouraging their officers to engage in the first instance, to explain and to resort to fines only where absolutely necessary and in most cases that is what's happened.'
Mr Jenrick insisted Mr Cummings did not break the rules by travelling to Durham.
But Mr Poole said he believed the police should look into the trip, telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'I took him (Mr Hancock) at his word that he would go away and have some discussions and that was really nice to hear.
'It's a little disappointing to hear afterwards that they've rowed back on that a bit.
'What I want is honesty from Government all the time and if their response is they can't review things or they don't want to, I accept that they'll say that.
'But I do feel that if there are people with children, who have been fined for doing that, then they'll want some sort of recourse.'
Asked if he knew of any families who had been fined, he added: 'I don't know anyone who has, but I know plenty of people where both parents (are) sick with small children and have deliberately stayed in because that's what they understood the rules to say.
'And I think, more widely, there's just that feeling that there's a different set of rules for those in leadership than there are for the rest of us.'
Labour's shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Mr Poole's question needed an urgent answer from Home Secretary Priti Patel.
On Tuesday evening, Mr Thomas-Symonds said: 'It's now been made incredibly difficult to police vital public health guidance, as this flip-flop over fines shows.'
The latest figures available from the National Police Chiefs' Council show a total of 14,244 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were recorded by forces in England between March 27 and May 11, for breaches of the Health Protection Regulations relating to lockdown.
It is not known how many, if any, of those fines have been handed to families travelling for childcare purposes.
At a briefing at the end of April, Hampshire Deputy Chief Constable Sara Glen said the 'vast majority' had been handed to people out in public spaces without a reasonable excuse who had ignored officers' instructions.