Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)
I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision regarding pets with microchips; and for connected purposes.
This is the third time I have stood up to present this Bill—make of that what you will, Mr Speaker—but we keep going. I also stand here because of an important member of my family: not my wife Joanne or my two sons, who are in the Public Gallery today, but my black Labrador Bertie, who at the moment is happily in doggy day care in Bury. He is a much-loved member of my family. This is a Bill for pet owners and pet lovers who value their pet cats and dogs as members of their family.
My Pets (Microchips) Bill aims to bring into law two campaigns that are due to the efforts of others—Tuk’s law and Gizmo’s law. Gizmo’s law is a campaign that emanates from my own Bury North constituency, hence the reason I am proud to stand here. I pay tribute to Helena Abrahams, Wendy Andrew and the whole team at Gizmo’s Legacy, who have done an incredible job. Tuk’s law is a four-year campaign by Sue Williams and Dawn Ashley. It has been an honour to work with Sue and Dawn over a number of years on this matter, with the great assistance of Dominic Dyer.
What is my Bill about? Tuk’s law is a campaign to create a new law that would mean that veterinary surgeons would be legally required to scan for rescue back-up contact details on microchips and confirm that the owner of the animal is actually the person presenting the animal, prior to euthanasia, if the animal can be treated. The campaign highlights an issue that I was horrified by when I first became aware of it. We have a pandemic in this country of healthy dogs being taken to vets and put down or euthanised without any reference to their ownership or having their microchip scanned.
What is rescue back-up? It is registration on a microchip. Rescue organisations and breeders register their details on the original database as a secondary contact as part of the adoption contract or bill of sale. In times of vulnerability, the secondary contact is there to prevent the animal being unnecessarily euthanised and to alert the veterinarian that an alternate is in place. Tuk’s law calls for two things: first, to establish legal ownership, and secondly, for a legal requirement on the veterinary surgeon to scan for a rescue back-up.
As we speak today, there is no legal requirement for vets to do that, but there should not be unfair criticism of the veterinary profession. During the time I have been presenting these Bills to the House, a voluntary code of conduct has been entered into by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. I am extremely grateful for the step it has taken, but the problem remains. Euthanasia remains solely at the discretion of a veterinarian and is not a legal requirement. Animals can still be subjected to unsubstantiated accusations of health or behaviour issues and there is no obligation to seek verification or alternative options to euthanasia. With rising veterinarian and insurance costs, economic euthanasia is likely to rise in the near future, and the rescues’ and breeders’ commitment to the safety of their animals’ long-term needs has to be acknowledged and should be acted on in all circumstances.
The rescue back-up provision allows time for comprehensive assessments, healthcare checks and rehoming support, and guarantees that any life-ending decision is based on the animal’s best interests, with all facts and alternative options known. For any dog owner in this place, the idea that our animal, as a healthy animal, could be taken and euthanised without our consent, for whatever reason, and without a second option being sought, is something that legislation needs to remedy. This campaign is backed by of thousands of people throughout the country.
As I said, Gizmo’s law is a proud Bury North campaign. Gizmo’s law is about the other end of the life spectrum. It is about cats that are sadly deceased. All too often in hon. Members’ constituencies and boroughs throughout this country, if a cat is sadly involved in an accident or dies by whatever means, if the local authority is called in, the step that is generally taken is to put that animal, without reference to the owner and without microchipping it, into landfill. That is not acceptable. Cats are part of our families—part of who we are. I know you would completely agree with that, Mr Speaker.
Gizmo’s law is a fully funded campaign where each local authority in the country will be provided with a scanner and legally required to bag the cat that has been killed in tragic circumstances, to record where it was found, and to scan the microchip and search the six databases that are open to cats that have been microchipped. That would allow cat owners to be reunited with their much-loved pet. If an animal is part of your family, it does not matter which stage of its life it is at—you want to know what has happened to it.
That requirement is not greatly bureaucratic or time-consuming. It is cost-neutral. It is simply asking local authorities to scan a microchip and to contact owners. There truly cannot be anything unreasonable about that. Sadly, however, I have numerous examples of councils throughout the country that simply ignore this, and the cat is thrown into landfill with the owner knowing nothing more about it.
This is about the Berties; it is about all the cats; it is about everyone who views animals as having as much right as any other member of the family. This is a passionate campaign. I have the honour to stand here but I go back to Helena, Wendy, Sue and Dawn—to all those people who every single day are going out loving, protecting and caring for their animals.
This is hopefully a matter that the Government can take further. If the Minister were given an opportunity, he would talk about the consultation on the issue that closed in May. The Government are taking positive steps in respect of looking at the issue of microchipping. I am incredibly grateful for the work of Ministers throughout the period I have been trying to persuade them of the merits of this legislation. It is part of a conversation that will hopefully bring Tuk’s law and Gizmo’s law into statute.
Can I just say that Attlee is fully supportive of what you are trying to do?
Question put and agreed to.
That James Daly, Mark Eastwood, Jim Shannon, Saqib Bhatti, Sir Gavin Williamson, Anthony Mangnall, Mark Logan, Aaron Bell, Jake Berry, Damien Moore, Nickie Aiken and Paul Bristow present the Bill.
James Daly accordingly presented the Bill.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 28 October, and to be printed (Bill 139).
Online Safety Bill: Programme (No. 2)
That the Order of 19 April 2022 in the last Session of Parliament (Online Safety Bill: Programme) be varied as follows:
(1) Paragraphs (4) and (5) of the Order shall be omitted.
(2) Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading shall be taken in two days in accordance with the following provisions of this Order.
(3) Proceedings on Consideration—
(a) shall be taken on each of those days in the order shown in the first column of the following Table, and
(b) shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.
Proceedings Time for conclusion of proceedings First day New clauses and new Schedules relating to, and amendments to, Part 1, Part 2 and Chapters 1 to 4, 6 and 7 of Part 3 (except amendments relating to the repeal of Part 4B of the Communications Act 2003) 4.30 pm on the first day New clauses and new Schedules relating to, and amendments to, Chapter 5 of Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, clauses 160 to 162 and Schedule 15, clauses 163 to 171, clauses 176 to 182, and Part 12 (except amendments relating to the repeal of Part 4B of the Communications Act 2003) 7.00 pm on the first day Second day New clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the repeal of Part 4B of the Communications Act 2003, and remaining proceedings on Consideration 6.00 pm on the second day
Time for conclusion of proceedings
New clauses and new Schedules relating to, and amendments to, Part 1, Part 2 and Chapters 1 to 4, 6 and 7 of Part 3 (except amendments relating to the repeal of Part 4B of the Communications Act 2003)
4.30 pm on the first day
New clauses and new Schedules relating to, and amendments to, Chapter 5 of Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, clauses 160 to 162 and Schedule 15, clauses 163 to 171, clauses 176 to 182, and Part 12 (except amendments relating to the repeal of Part 4B of the Communications Act 2003)
7.00 pm on the first day
New clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the repeal of Part 4B of the Communications Act 2003, and remaining proceedings on Consideration
6.00 pm on the second day
(4) Proceedings on Third Reading shall be taken on the second day and shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on the second day.—(Damian Collins.)