5. What recent representations he has received on the case for a rescue cat being adopted to control the mouse population on the Parliamentary Estate. (905593)
That suggestion has been made from time to time, most recently and specifically by the hon. Lady, who suggested a rescue cat or two from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in our exchanges on 6 February. The idea has a clear appeal and has therefore been given full and proper consideration by the House authorities. However, that consideration showed that there are very clear practical and technical difficulties, and therefore this has led to a decision not to accept the generous offer.
I am grateful for the full reply and the fact that the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has offered a rescue cat. It is a matter of fact that the mouse population is spiralling out of control, particularly in areas where food is being prepared, which poses a clear health hazard. Will the right hon. Gentleman review his decision and, using the same model adopted by Nos. 10 and 11, consider having a rescue cat that can be released in the evenings to keep the mouse population under control? If mice can be close to the source of food and pose a health hazard, one would think it would be perfectly sensible to introduce a cat to keep the mouse population down.
The hon. Lady has made reference to the significant rodent problem in this place, and measures are being taken to combat that through pest control. On the possibility of having a cat, given the scale and size of the estate, it would be necessary to have a great number of cats to make any real impact, and having a herd of cats on the Parliamentary Estate would present a number of difficulties. I am also advised by my own Chief Whip that herding cats is quite difficult.