My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He will have seen the PDSA’s PAW report, which talked about cats’ five welfare needs, one of which is companionship. We talk about loneliness and the Government doing the right thing and people having the required environment to be happy, and what cats and animals do is absolutely amazing, so he makes a valid point.
My first point is about the compulsory microchipping of cats. I spoke to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on
In the light of the Secretary of State’s commitment and his saying that the proposals are very reasonable, I ask the Minister: are cats less important than dogs? A statutory instrument requiring dogs to be compulsorily microchipped was introduced in 2015, so there does not need to be primary legislation; such a change could be done through a statutory instrument. At the time it was said that such a change would be done with dogs first to see how the process worked, and that extending it further would then be looked at. That was in 2015. I know that the Government and Parliament work slowly, but three years to see how a system works is long enough.
I know the Minister. He and I have been here for the same amount time—eight years. He is a wonderful man who cares passionately about animal welfare and doing the right thing, and he listens to what people have to say. A petition on change.org, “Help me to change the law for Cats involved in RTA’s”, received 377,000 signatures. A parliamentary petition about microchipping had 33,413 signatures. A petition to introduce compulsory microchip scanning for vets, rescues and authorities had 70,800 signatures. That demonstrates that people out there want Parliament to do the right thing, as Jim Shannon says is our duty. Ministers can see the public interest in this area through the petitions put forward and the contributions of Members today and in previous debates.