Hannah Jordan, parliamentary intern to Lord Trees, discusses business in Parliament before the House rises for the general election.
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March is hurtling past and, increasingly, MPs can be spotted clearing their offices. Despite much whispering in the bar that Parliament would rise for the general election earlier than March 30, this didn't happen and the extra time has proven useful to squeeze through last bits of legislation, like the Control of Horses Bill. This Bill passed through the Lords without amendment and provides more powers to deal with illegal fly-grazing.
This month I toured Victoria Tower, a purpose-built, fireproof repository for the parliamentary archive (the Palace has been unlucky when it comes to fires!). Aside from strengthening the Palace's similarity to Hogwarts, it provides 12 air-conditioned floors to store the laws of the land, which continue, to this day, to be printed on vellum. Recently, the RCVS presented its new charter, also printed on vellum with a huge royal seal, at a packed reception in the Commons.
Despite the tangible feeling of business winding down in the chamber, we submitted two written questions in March. The first, which asked about prosecutions under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, was aimed at teasing out the efficacy of the legislation. The second highlighted the collaborative development of the ‘Good Practice Guidelines for the Welfare of Privately Kept Reptiles and Amphibians’ by the British Veterinary Zoological Society, animal keepers, industry and welfare organisations, and prompted the Government to place copies of the documents in the library of the House. This collaboration is crucial because it encourages future veterinary input and steer on matters reptile, amphibian and more widely.
The recent Veterinary Marketing Association awards attracted a variety of professionals from the veterinary industry, who I find offer a different, occasionally refreshing, perspective on the profession. The VMA's president's award winner was a practice-led campaign to promote awareness of the dangers of antifreeze in a fantastic example of what can be done to improve animal welfare.
Last week the green outside Millbank was prepared for the pre-election Budget and Andrew Neil could be spotted marching about recording a trail for ‘Daily Politics’. Notwithstanding the importance of the Budget, my interest is focused on party plans for animal welfare. At an Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare question time meeting, representatives for the parties set out their plans. The more established parties often knew what to say to please the audience and perhaps better accepted the wide range of perspectives that often exist for each issue. Among other things, the ideas that were discussed included a review of pet breeding and sale legislation, repeal of the hunting ban, a review of gun sports, and a ban on live exports (currently impossible under the Treaty of Rome). However, the most pertinent point from my perspective, raised by Baroness Parminter (Liberal Democrat), was the importance of establishing the greatest priority animal welfare issues because, realistically, time allocated for such legislation is limited. In order to help with this, we need to establish a list of welfare priorities as a profession.