New Clause 21 - Compulsory microchipping of cats

Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:15 pm ar 18 Tachwedd 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

“The Secretary of State must, within six months of the date of Royal Assent to this act, make regulations requiring that cats in England over a certain age be microchipped.”—

This new clause would require the Secretary of State to make regulations for the compulsory microchipping of cats within six months of the Act being passed.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Olivia Blake Olivia Blake Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

New clause 21 deals with microchipping of cats. We heard about cattism earlier in the debate. We tabled the new clause because microchipping is the safe and permanent way to identify an owned cat. Cats Protection’s “Cats and their Stats” report in 2021 found that there are 2.8 million owned cats without a microchip across the UK, which is more than a quarter of all owned cats.

We know there are a multitude of benefits to increasing the number of microchipped cats: it helps reunite more lost cats with their owners; it ensures owners are informed and able to be involved in decisions about their cat’s veterinary care—for example, if they were hit by a car and taken to a vet by a member of the public, which sadly occurs often—it informs more owners and provides closure in the sad event that their cat is fatally injured and scanned for a microchip; it provides easier detection of cats in the event of theft; and it allows for better traceability of individual owned cats should there be a significant disease outbreak such as rabies.

The new clause would help ensure that more of the UK’s cats are microchipped, registered and traceable in the event of an emergency. We have talked a lot about microchipping different animals, and I do not see why the situation with cats should be different from that with dogs.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We absolutely share the hon. Lady’s desire for all cats to be microchipped. My own cat, a former Purr Minister, is himself microchipped. The Government committed in our manifesto, and reaffirmed in our action plan for animal welfare, our intention to introduce compulsory cat microchipping. Around 75% of cats are microchipped, compared with around 90% of dogs.

Our consultation on microchipping ended earlier this year and we received 33,000 responses, which we have been analysing. We will be publishing a summary of the consultation responses and our response to the consultation, by which I mean our plans for the future, within the next couple of weeks—certainly by the end of the year. I am very pleased to confirm that there was overwhelming support for the principle of compulsory cat microchipping.

Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Given that we all agree, and that this is a consultation where it is overwhelmingly clear what people want, why do the Government not just do it?

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Well, may I carry on? Colleagues may be aware that we have also carried out a post-implementation review of the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015, which we also intend to publish before the end of the year. The review highlights key difficulties—I think Members across the House are aware of them—with the current microchipping regime, including the current operation of the databases, where improvements can definitely be made. We propose to take a little bit longer to get this right, to ensure that the problems that have beset the multiple databases for dogs do not reoccur.

Our intention is to make a new set of regulations next year that incorporate both compulsory cat microchipping and changes to the current problems in the dog microchipping regimes. These regulations will of course be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, so it will be possible for Parliament to be involved. In these circumstances and with those assurances, I ask that the new clause be withdrawn.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.