In my previous blog on the subject (Part 2) I indicated that Jake had raised this issue with Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under Secretary (though which secretary he is under and exactly what he's doing there is anyone's guess) of State - below is a copy of the response received (which came with another nice response from Jake on 'House of Commons' letter-headed paper).
It's a bit of a disappointment that the response seems to have answered all my questions and that there is a clear and unequivocal commitment for the Search and Rescue service to remain free at the point of need (i.e. on top of a mountain).
However, can I suggest that you take note of the words 'there are no current plans to charge those rescued' - it's that word 'current' which worries me a little because the definition of 'current' is:
cur·rent (kûrnt, kr-)
1. Belonging to the present time
What that really means is 'we don't have any plans today to charge those rescued, but you can bet your arse that we will do so if we: a) need more money to pay Bristows; b) can get a directorship at Bristows if we get legislation through Parliament before we are voted out of office which makes them more money, or: c) can get a backhander from the insurance industry by forcing hillwalkers et al to have compulsory insurance.
I remain to be convinced that, by the end of this decade, the status quo will not have changed.