Parliament’s daily debates on dogs, cats – and flamingoes!

As the Houses of Parliament wind down for the General Election, the RSPCA has taken a lighthearted look into which animals have dominated the discussions of our lawmakers over the last five years.

The research was carried out using the official edited report of proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords (Hansard). In total there were a whopping 54036 animal mentions over the last five years, which – based on the number of hours per year Parliament sits for – averages out at about eight animal mentions an hour or 60 times a day.

Both ‘fox’ and ‘horse’ featured highly (with fox slightly outstripping horse with 2,357 mentions and 2,219 respectively) and the age old debate about cats vs dogs all but answered – as dogs proved more popular than their feline counterparts, with cats mentioned just 951 times compared to 1,629 utterances on dogs.

There were also some some surprising additions – including ‘bear’, ‘flamingo’ llama’ and ‘robin’. However, the statistics also include homonyms and proper nouns so some animal mentions may be inadvertent.

“The serious message behind these findings is the fact that politicians refer to the animal kingdom on a daily basis. Despite this, progress on animal welfare legislation in this parliament has been slow. In particular, progress on the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill has now completely stalled,” said Claire Robinson, RSPCA Government Relations Manager.

“Having recently published our manifesto, the RSPCA hopes that more animal welfare legislation will be given the ‘seal’ of approval in the next parliament, and we look forward to working with politicians from across the political spectrum.” she added.

In addition, members of Parliament frequently employ animal terminology when debating laws – including the Prime Minister calling the Shadow Chancellor “a turkey” and is also quoted as suggesting MPs are prone to “fighting like ferrets in a sack”. Elsewhere Tory MPs allegedly described their Liberal Democrat partners as “harder to pin down than a weasel covered in Vaseline”.


Notes for editors

The references for the animal terminology quotes are as follows:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/12/18/ed-balls-turkey-david-cameron_n_4465019.html

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140402/debtext/140402-0001.htm#140402-0001.htm_spmin15

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140213/debtext/140213-0001.htm#140213-0001.htm_spnew174

To read the RSPCA’s manifesto for animal welfare please see:

http://view.pagetiger.com/GEManifesto/issue1

The top 20 most referenced animals were:

?       bear

?       robin

?       seal

?       fish

?       eagle

?       fox

?       horse

?       lamb

?       sheep

?       dog

?       pig

?       turkey

?       cricket

?       bull

?       bird

?       cat

?       cow

?       mole

?       lion

?       duck