Larry is the chief mouser at number 10 Downing Street, the offices of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He has a specific role to play. It is not a joke. He was hired – if that’s the right word – to keep rodents away from number 10. He is considered to be successful in his role. Yet he is not on the payroll. By this I mean that when he needs veterinary care the money for it comes from voluntary donations from staff who work at number 10. The same goes for all the other usual bits and pieces which make up the upkeep of a domestic house cat.
When Theresa May took up residence as the new Prime Minister, Larry had injured his front-right paw. It was thought that the injury occurred in a fight with Palmerston at the foreign office which is nearby.
He made a full recovery but the House of Lords debated whether Larry’s veterinary bills should be funded by Downing Street staff donations: serious stuff.
You would have thought that the obvious way to proceed would be for the taxpayer to fund his upkeep. Apparently no change will take place. Civil servants are free to donate towards his upkeep if they want to. There’s no obligation. And they will not be refunded.
He is much loved and staff will not even ask for a refund. We are told that the reason why the taxpayer does not fund Larry’s upkeep and veterinary bills is because of the austerity programme in the UK instigated as a result of the economic downturn in 2011.
I can understand that but the UK economy is doing all right at the moment and has been for a while despite Brexit. Perhaps it is time to put Larry on the payroll to regularise his employment status.