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Diary of a parliamentary intern
  1. Hannah Jordan

Abstract

Hannah Jordan, parliamentary intern to Lord Trees, describes the month in parliament; a month in which a number of animal welfare issues were aired

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It is difficult to believe that four weeks have passed since my last diary. I could say that time has flown by, but in reality too much has been crammed in to feel that way. I am grateful to everyone who has kept an eye on me and introduced me to the delicate art of walking up to relative strangers at meetings and attempting to join the conversation.

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The main theme of the past month has been animal welfare, a subject important to vets and the general public alike. You may have heard or read Lord Trees' speech at the second reading of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. It recently moved into committee stage and has attracted attention for a variety of reasons. The most pertinent of those to vets is the refinement of legislation applicable to those who own, breed or train dogs to use as weapons. Needless to say, trying to decipher the current piecemeal legislation and coordinate contributions and briefings can be quite a challenge.

Animal welfare cropped up again this week with a short debate, the first in the Lords for 20 years, on the welfare of dogs and cats in the UK. The purpose of these sessions is to highlight a subject or, as Lord Black eloquently put it, ‘to give a voice to the voiceless’. At the end of such debates, the Minister responsible, in this case Lord De Mauley, responds on behalf of the Government. The full text of the debate is available on the parliament.uk website.

There have been a number of fascinating events this month and I can't do them all justice, but you will have read about many of them in Veterinary Record. I particularly wanted to mention a conference on larger scale dairy farming and food security in the UK. Food production is an area I feel strongly about and readily admit that I went in to the meeting with a negative opinion of so-called ‘mega farms’. However, the evidence that was presented was convincing of their strengths, not least in the areas of environmental management and animal welfare. This idea has also been paralleled in the news recently, with stories discussing the welfare of laying hens in enriched cages versus that of free-range organic. I remain sceptical of larger scale operations, especially following the revelation that there doesn't appear to be a food security strategy or an agricultural development policy for the UK. However, I feel it is important to be pragmatic if a better option can be truly provided not only for the consumer, but for the animals involved.

Lord Trees represents the profession in the Lords. The BVA, RCVS and other organisations do a great job recruiting the opinion of the profession, but it is crucial that vets speak up about issues they encounter. You can get in touch with us directly, or via an organisation – we would love to hear from you.

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