Mary Creagh MP is Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary.
Another week, another fine mess from DEFRA. This time, Caroline Spelman is confused about microchipping dogs.
While in government, Labour launched a consultation in March 2010 on reforming the law to provide greater protection for victims of dog attacks and to deal with irresponsible owners. The consultation closed in June 2010, yet the government took nearly two years to publish its response (another consultation).
The government now wants to phase in the microchipping of dogs, so as to ensure that owners can be traced after an attack. Their consultation states:
“There are currently four databases operating in the UK [for holding data on micro-chipped dogs] and it is possible others may be set up. To ensure that data protection and service standards are maintained, it seems appropriate that all databases should be approved by DEFRA.”
Yet at DEFRA questions three days later, the Secretary of State seemed blissfully unaware that private companies run these four databases.
When asked who would have access to data on microchipped dogs, she replied:
“The database is held by my department.”
I wrote to the Secretary of State asking her to correct the record. She replied:
“The database I referred to in the House of Commons on 23 April was the Index of Exempted Dogs, which is the responsibility of Defra.”
The Index of Exempted Dogs was established by the 1992 Dangerous Dogs Act. It lists individual dogs from banned breeds that have been through a court process.
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The Secretary of State appears to have wilfully misunderstood my request, using a completely separate database to cover up her misunderstanding of the question she was originally asked in Parliament.
She has now proven on two separate occasions that she doesn’t know what she is talking about. I hope Armando Iannucci is taking notes.