The Government have a manifesto commitment to introduce compulsory microchipping of cats, and that was recently restated in the action plan for animal welfare. We carried out a public consultation, which ended in February, and DEFRA officials are currently analysing the 33,000 responses. We will publish the details of our proposals later this year.
So despite widespread public support, as the Minister confirmed, we are yet to have a timetable for the compulsory microchipping of pet cats. We know that 2.6 million unchipped pet cats in the UK have less chance of being reunited with their owners if they are lost or stolen, despite how heartbreaking the loss of much loved pets can be and the recognised need to improve animal welfare. Will the Government ensure that the consultation on cat and dog microchipping reports as soon as possible and announce their timetable for introducing regulations to make microchipping compulsory for pet cats?
I share the hon. Lady’s enthusiasm for microchipping cats. A total of 74% are already microchipped, including my own I am pleased to say. We will be working hard, as soon as we have responded to the consultation, to legislate as soon as possible. Only secondary legislation is needed to bring about changes if those are considered necessary, so I do not anticipate any great delay, and I reassure the hon. Lady that we are working on this at pace.