Hannah Jordan, parliamentary intern to Lord Trees, reflects on a year in which she feels veterinary interests have been well represented in Parliament.
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I am writing this as the Lords is about to rise for Christmas recess and there are lots of peers strolling down the corridors clutching House of Lords gift shop bags and towing suitcases on wheels. It has been over a year since I began this fantastic role and the difference between this year and the last one has been quite marked. It certainly feels as though we are doing and achieving more for the profession.
The biggest change has been Lord Trees gaining a seat on a Lords select committee – the EU Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy Sub-Committee. This committee receives explanatory memoranda from the Government on relevant EU proposals; it has the opportunity to scrutinise them and to seek to influence the Government's position. The committee recently reported on the prevention of food waste in the EU. Lord Trees spoke to this report when it was debated in the chamber, and questioned the Minister about the promotion of government initiatives to reduce food waste. Currently, the committee is considering its response to the EU proposals for a new Veterinary Medicines Regulation. As the only vet on the committee, Lord Trees has been seeking information from a variety of sources and this has been keeping us busy.
In other news, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare held a packed meeting to discuss the launch of its new strategy for dog welfare. Several short talks were given and the main thrust was enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (2006) by local authorities. Where it is adopted, it often falls across several local authority departments and there is a striking difference in enforcement. We were told that several local authorities prefer to leave matters to be dealt with by the RSPCA, but some are doing well, especially where a passionate employee acts as the driving force. This point of view tallies with the theme of the RSPCA's reception earlier this year: ‘Who owns animal welfare?’. Perhaps the question should be: ‘Who does the Government expect to enforce the Animal Welfare Act?’
Last week, I was lucky to be invited to join Lord Trees at a meeting of the Central Veterinary Society where he gave a talk on his year in the Lords. With the general election campaign picking up pace, the subject of Lords reform has been quite a hot topic, and it has been interesting to find that I have moved from the position of reformer to supporter of the work of the House. The discussion was stimulating and I would encourage young graduates to get involved with their local veterinary society because it is a great way to do CPD and keep up to date with issues affecting the profession.
To close, I will leave you with the story of the parliamentary veterinary intern who was invited to the Liberal Democrats' Christmas party, offered a glass of wine, and challenged by Lord German to sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing to the tune of Do-Re-Mi. Unfortunately, there may be video evidence of this transgression . . .