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Lord Trees' intern, Hannah Jordan, recently stood for RCVS Council. During the parliamentary recess she worked in clinical practice and as a policy officer for the BVA, aside from training for a triathlon.
The Lords went into recess at the end of March and it wasn't until May 27 that the Queen arrived to conduct the state opening. During recess I was training for the Blenheim triathlon, working as a policy officer for the British Veterinary Association and helping the indefatigable team at PDSA Bow, where I have been volunteering for over a year.
During recess, the Government election ran alongside the RCVS Council election and I stood in the latter to offer a voice for younger graduate vets and also those who might not be following the more conventional career paths in the veterinary profession. I wasn't successful this time, but in the process I had some fascinating conversations with vets in a range of positions. There were a variety of viewpoints on every issue and lots of questions about the work of the RCVS and what being an RCVS Council member would involve, which have helped me clarify the role and what input I could have if I stand again.
At the end of May, the Government indicated that the badger cull would be rolled out further using free shooting. The ‘badger problem’, often presented in isolation from the ‘bovine TB problem’, is a good example of an issue with which the profession has engaged and lobbied Government. In this case, the Government decided to pursue free shooting rather than upset the apple cart by bringing the humaneness of free shooting of other species into question. I am far from convinced we should let this lie. For me, the crux of the matter is that if we must cull badgers the culling should be humane, thorough and finite in order that there is a tangible benefit to disease control.
In the last week of May I spent a week with the UK delegation at the 83rd General Session of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), held in Paris. The week gave me a much better grasp of the work of vets both within the OIE and its 180 member countries. Aside from better understanding the role of the OIE in setting international standards in animal health and disease control, relied upon for international trade, I particularly enjoyed a debate on the revision of the chapter of the Terrestrial Code on electrical stunning in poultry. I was surprised by the difference in priorities of member countries such as the USA, which was pushing for less prescriptive, outcome-based measures to remove barriers to trade, and the UK, which wanted to ensure that any outcome-based measures were validated practically and scientifically before they were adopted.
Last, but not least, on his return to the House, Lord Trees submitted the Veterinary Nurses (Protection of Title) Bill into the private members' bill ballot. Unfortunately, it was drawn rather a long way down the list, but it has been formally presented to the House (first reading) and we will see what can be done to increase the chances of a second reading for this straightforward Bill.