Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/12/21/yes_monkeys_not_apes/

UK government puts kybosh on NHS monkeys plan

Aping a great idea

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Government, 21st December 2006 14:58 GMT

Someone in Downing Street has a sense of humour - and we have proof.

Regular readers (you know who you are) may recall stories of a beta test site where members of the general public can petition the prime minister about things dear to their hearts. Hunting, ID cards, and road tax are the three big ones.

After a certain period of time a petition will close, and the government may or may not respond.

One intrepid voter (or possibly apathetic non-participant in democracy, who can tell?) thought it would be a good idea to ask Tony to make monkeys freely available "for disabled folk on the NHS to do jobs around the house for them".

Maybe he wanted to test the limits of the system. Perhaps he really believes that helper monkeys are the way forward. Or maybe he was making a deeply political point about the level of care available "in the community". We'd hate to guess.

Anyway - we digress. The point of the story is that while the government has responded to very few of the petitions (at the time of writing only four had responses posted next to them), this is one of the ones to which Blair's office has taken the time to compose a reply.

And it starts:

"While we are aware of similar initiatives already in existence, the Government does not currently have any plans to make monkeys available to people with disabilities."

Notice the way the writer has avoided committing Blair to either supporting or opposing free NHS monkeys, while managing to sound like it is a topic dear to his heart? Beautiful.

The only thing left to do is wonder about the "similar initiatives". ®