Sit, Butch. Let's Have Your Pawprints. You're Collared!

Article excerpt

Byline: Letts Parliament Yesterday in Quentin

STAND by, campers - yet more state interference is on its way. Animal welfare minister James Paice hinted heavily yesterday that the Government is about to bring in compulsory microchips for dogs, along with other ruff-ruff rules and regulations.

Sit down, Butch, and hand over your ID. Let's have your pawprints. You're collared!

Mr Paice, succumbing to Labour grumbles, said that new laws on dog ownership would be brought to the House 'very soon', certainly before Easter.

They may include microchipping of dogs and a requirement to place your mutt on a Government database. Every day, in every little way, life becomes less free. Bureaucracy broadens. The will to live shrivels.

Stella Creasy (Lab, Walthamstow) was keen to have such laws introduced to control roughnecks in her constituency who terrorise the neighbourhood with their dogs. Gangs were using dogs as 'weapons', said Miss Creasy. She proposed Government 'dog ownership education programmes'.

I sometimes feel Lefties will not be happy until we all have to be packed off for training in 'appropriate' behaviour in some area or other. Thus is the individual cowed. Thus is officialdom bolstered.

James Gray (Con, Wilts N) put the small-state view, fearing that 'law-abiding dog owners may be scooped up in some bureaucratic, complex arrangement'. What a pity Mr Gray's common-sense approach is not more widely reflected at Whitehall. But of course it is in the interests of ministers and civil servants to create new structures. The ministers can say 'something has been done' and the civil servants can justify their jobs.

Miss Creasy - who has about her something of the well-groomed, eager retriever - is no doubt telling the truth about her urban constituency. But must events in Walthamstow impose expensive legal requirements on dog owners in every other corner of the kingdom? Will the Walthamstow badhats ever bother to get their dogs chipped? I bet not.

The respectable majority of dog owners, from grannies to children, will simply have their lives made more complicated, the police will be forced to spend millions on chip readers and vets will make a mint. …