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Diary of a parliamentary intern
  1. Hannah Jordan

Abstract

Hannah Jordan, parliamentary intern to Lord Trees, describes a busy time before the House rises at Christmas.

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As I write, the division bell is sounding and peers are dashing to vote. December has been a hectic month and this is likely to continue until the House rises. I, perhaps naively, thought that business might wind down towards Christmas. Instead, some issues raised at the BVA Congress last month have gained momentum, along with a crescendo of other Lords' business as several bills reach important junctures.

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The veterinary circus that comprises the London Vet Show was a wonderful opportunity to meet the stakeholders in veterinary business and, this year, the BVA Congress was held as part of the event. We took part in a couple of discussions, first on the pros and cons of an increasing number of UK vet schools and, secondly, on the role of evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) for the profession. While there might be little we can do about the former, we can certainly help shape the profession and prepare for change. The latter is terrifically important in an increasingly litigious society. RCVS Knowledge is hosting an EBVM conference in October 2014 to thrash out the issues.

Veterinary-related business in the House has been varied this month. We submitted two questions to Lord de Mauley regarding pre-exposure rabies vaccination for vets. While the responses were informative, they left the responsibility for pre-exposure vaccination firmly in the hands of the business owner (see p 613 of this issue).

Opposition amendments to include dog control notices in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill were, unsurprisingly, withdrawn. We may table an amendment at the Report stage to extend protection from ‘people and assistance dogs’ to include ‘protected (domestic) animals’.

Last week, the Lords debated the continued use of badger culls by Defra. This was closely followed by a less measured debate in the Commons. Following the conclusion of the culls there has been much talk about what the Government will do next. The minister, Lord de Mauley, refrained from giving much away while we await an independent report. On the subject of reports, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recently advised reclassification of ketamine as a Class B drug. This may impact its use in practice and we will keep an eye on developments.

In case you were wondering, it has not been all work and no play. I was grateful to be able to attend the RCVS President's reception, the Westminster Abbey parliamentary carol service and the BVA Christmas reception this month. The carols were magical and the readings, by various politicians, were better received than some of their comments on Radio 4!

January will be a chance to debate the non-stun slaughter of animals, and badgers will get further air time at the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. Do get in touch if you have something to contribute; in the meantime I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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