16 Mar 2010

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.



Tweets by @garygibbonblog

4 reader comments

  1. adrian clarke says:

    Lets face it Were Labour to get another 5 years in office there will be many more wheezes to get our money for their irresponsible spending.A more pressing one at the moment is the continuing rise in petrol prices.Yet another unjustified tax rise by a Labour government

  2. Mudplugger says:

    The mandatory insurance plan (i.e. handing yet more easy automatic money to the sharks in the finance industry) could never succeed without mandatory dog registration.

    But the registration step still makes some sense. A non-working dog is an optional choice and, like a car, when you make that choice you should be compelled to comply with regulations to protect the rest of the public.

    Basic systems design already exists at the DVLA (Dog & Vehicle Licensing Agency ?), so why not issue every pooch with a ‘V5’, give it a registration number (chipped and externally labelled) and make it mandatory to notify ownership changes – charge £10 a time.

    Then simply make the registered owner legally liable for reporting ownership changes and for any damage caused by the dog – if the owner chooses to insure against that, then let them Those who don’t insure can then be sued for every last penny. That’s freedom of choice.

    1. Steve Willis says:

      I think the same approach should be taken to bicycles:

      Compulsory registration & plate.
      Compulsory Cycling Proficiency training.
      Compulsory 3rd Party insurance.

  3. Andy says:

    As there does seem to be a problem with dangerous dogs then something like registration may help. However it requires thinking through as to what happens if the law-abiding do register and the non law-abiding do not.
    Much of the rest of the suggestions on dangerous dogs seemed to punish all dog owners and not just the guilty ones. This is a common theme in proposed legislation from this government with another example being cheap alcohol.

Comments are closed.