Peers warned on dangers of ferrets
Peers have been warned about the danger of ferrets who like to explore up people's trouser legs.
Labour's Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton issued the cautionary tale at question time in the Lords.
To laughter from all sides, she told environment, food and rural affairs spokesman Lord Gardiner of Kimble that he ought to be careful dealing with ferrets.
"We had a ferret belonging to my son, called Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and she did enjoy trouser legs and it's very important for people to take care."
Lady Farrington said a former colleague of hers started a ferret appreciation society in Wigan.
"And I had to warn him that I would turn up with said ferret and that he had to beware of her interest in going up trouser legs."
Lord Kimble said the 75-year-old baroness had given peers a "splendid reason as to why one should be extremely cautious of ferrets".
He said 68 ferrets had come into the country last year under the pet passport scheme and added: "I hope everyone has taken note of what you've said about trousers."
The exchanges came as peers protested about the failure of Eurostar to allow passengers to take dogs and other pets on board with them when travelling abroad.
Lord Gardiner said the Government did not impose any obligation on transport companies to carry pets. It was a commercial decision for them.
Eurostar did offer carriage for guide dogs, he added.
But Tory Baroness Sharples said: "Passports for pets has been 100% successful. Why oh why will Eurostar not take pets? You can take your dog on a sleeper to Scotland and all the ferries take them. Why not Eurostar?"
Lord Gardiner said it was for commercial companies to make their own decisions.
"They are concerned about safety in particular although they are keen to assist with assistance dogs."
He said that under the EU pet travel scheme over 170,000 dogs, cats and ferrets had been carried last year.
Labour's Lord Snape said that if it was possible to take a pet dog through the channel tunnel using the shuttle train, why wasn't it possible to do the same on Eurostar services.
"Eurostar are the only train operating company that forbid the carriage of pets. It won't do to say this is a commercial decision. Surely it's the sort of area the Government ought to be making representations to the company concerned," he said.
Lord Gardiner said he would be very surprised if Eurostar wasn't listening to the exchanges.
Carriers had to be approved and this required the necessary facilities to be in place to check every pet's compliance with travel rules.
"I hope Eurostar are listening," he added.