Hilary Benn backs down on “barking” dog plans
You might think that any politician would have their radar at a particularly sensitive setting if they were dealing with “dangerous dogs” – the original act is held in contempt as one of the worst pieces of legislation in recent times.
Not, it appears, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.
His consultation paper on amending the law, produced only one week ago, suggested possible compulsory third party insurance for all dog owners.
Today, Hilary Benn has issued a statement saying it’s not an idea worth pursuing at all.
It’s been dumped and in record time.
It was the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, who actually had the privilege a week ago of announcing what has turned out to be one of the shortest-lived policy wheezes in modern times.
It was an idea from DEFRA but they were tied up with a knotweed announcement last Tuesday, so they suggested that the dog announcements were squeezed into a speech Alan Johnson was already due to give.
The Home Office took a look at the plans and suggested they were “barking”, but DEFRA wouldn’t back down.
No. 10 is pluckily saying that the consultation paper never referred to “all dogs” but only to “dangerous dogs.”
But take a look at Para 53 – point 5 (p. 13) of the consultation paper and you get: “other options for consideration – a requirement that all dogs are covered by third-party insurance.”
I hear that No. 10 initially met the news last week with gallows humour but since then there’s been a deluge of phone calls from Labour MPs and candidates fighting marginal seats saying that the Tories are making hay with the idea that every dog owner would have to shell out for dog insurance.
So today it is no more.