B1551 – Welfare of Commercial Laying Hens Bill 2020. Watch

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Andrew97
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B1551 – Welfare of Commercial Laying Hens Bill 2020, Conservative & Unionist Party

Welfare of Commercial Laying Hens Bill 2020

A bill to improve the welfare of commercial laying hens

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

1: Definitions
For the purposes of this act -
(1) "caged” means to have any system, whereby hens are kept in enclosed ages for any amount of time.
(2) "free range" means to have constant daytime access to an outside range with vegetation (minimum of 4 square metres in non-rotational systems)
(3) "barn” means to have a system whereby hens are kept in sheds using the floor space only (maximum of 9 hens per square metre)

2: Commercial Laying Hens
(1) The act of keeping commercial laying hens in a caged system is hereby prohibited.
(2) The act of keeping commercial laying hens in a barn system is permitted, provided that the system provides: perches for roosting, material to dustbathe and forage in, and next boxes.
(3) The act of keeping commercial laying hens in a free range system is permitted.

3: Enforcement and Punishment
(1) Farms registered as keeping laying hens are to be inspected once a year by HM Government (Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs) Animal Welfare Inspectors.
(2) Inspections are to ensure that laying hens are being kept in accordance with the conditions laid out in this Act.
(3) The definitions laid out in this act are to be reviewed annually by the RSPCA
(4) The enforcement of this Act is the sole responsibility of the Animal Welfare Inspectors (DEFRA)
(5) Violation of this Act is punishable by a fine not exceeding £5,000 and/or the termination of licence to keep commercial laying hens

4: Extent, Commencement and Citation
(1) This Act extends to the whole of the United Kingdom
(2) The provisions of this Act come into force on 31 December 2020
(3) This Act may be cited as the Welfare of Commercial Laying Hens Bill 2020

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Mr Speaker, egg laying hens are one of the few types of farm animal in the UK that, on some farms, are still kept in close-confinement cage systems for all of their productive lives.

The TSR Conservative & Unionist Party wants to see all laying hens kept in well-managed free-range or barn systems, and therefore bring this bill to the floor of the House tonight to try to improve the conditions in which all laying hens are reared, transported and slaughtered/killed.

The proposals we outline in the bill are supported by the RSPCA, who have been campaigning for better laws on this matter for many years. If this bill becomes law, then all eggs will be compliant with RSPCA Welfare Standards.

Mr Speaker, we are aware that it is not only hens that need further protection in law, but we believe that by passing this bill into law, we will be taking the first major step to dramatically enhanced animal welfare legislation which will then set the tone for further measures.

We believe that there is no sound reason for hens to be kept in close confinement; it is cruel and barbaric. I therefore commend this bill to the House.

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abucha3
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Mr Speaker, members of the House will find my Opening Statement to the First Reading of this bill in the notes, in my capacity as Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment. I hope that this bill will find cross party support. I commend this bill to the House.
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barnetlad
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I welcome this Bill. Could there be some provision in it to allow anyone who sees contravention of the provisions of the Bill to report it and action be taken? People do not normally report matters to DEFRA, even though they may be the people to then check.

A second thought is whether it should extend to other poultry.
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Jammy Duel
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What is an "enclosed age"?

In real terms the point is...
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Jammy Duel
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Is it appropriate for lobbyists to review definitions that are not unreasonably pretty definite with the implication being that these rather definite definitions are not so definite after all?
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SoggyCabbages
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Will you be providing subsidies for cage farmers or do you expect them to lose vast sums of money and go out of business?
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LiberOfLondon
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Aye.
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The Mogg
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Despite disagreeing with the bill, I will be abstaining in (somewhat) support of my fellow comrade and the will of the party to allow it.
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abucha3
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
What is an "enclosed age"?

In real terms the point is...
It took me a while to find the spelling error... thank you, I will amend for the Second Reading.
(Original post by Jammy Duel)
Is it appropriate for lobbyists to review definitions that are not unreasonably pretty definite with the implication being that these rather definite definitions are not so definite after all?
The definitions are based on the RSPCA's Welfare Standards, so if these standards are revised then it would be appropriate to allow scope within the legislation for the definitions to be amended in line with any revisions made to the standards. Fundamentally, the definitions are not likely to change but could possibly be enhanced based on future research perhaps.
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abucha3
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(Original post by barnetlad)
I welcome this Bill. Could there be some provision in it to allow anyone who sees contravention of the provisions of the Bill to report it and action be taken? People do not normally report matters to DEFRA, even though they may be the people to then check.

A second thought is whether it should extend to other poultry.
Thank you for your comments. There has been a recent case, where an animal activist group protested/trespassed onto a farm in Yorkshire, where the hens were meant to be kept in free range conditions, but were not. The group alerted the RSPCA, who have suspended the farm to carry out their investigations. I think it is absolutely right that people are able to report these matters, and that they are able to continue to do; given people are already able to do this, I am not sure we would need to explicitly make a provision in the bill for it, as I would have the confidence that the provision is already available.

https://metro.co.uk/2020/01/28/secre...irds-12131921/

Hens are the most impacted at this current time to living in closed confined conditions, but I am certainly opening to extending the parameters of this bill; certainly towards chickens that are kept for slaughter. I will certainly see if we can incorporate something for the Second Reading.
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abucha3
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(Original post by SoggyCabbages)
Will you be providing subsidies for cage farmers or do you expect them to lose vast sums of money and go out of business?
We do not have any plans to provide subsidies for cage farmers through this bill, and I do not believe that farmers would lose vast sums of money and risk going out of business.

The cost could be between 13-36% approx higher to comply with the bill. This might make a case for extending the implementation period perhaps to prepare farmers, but we would not be looking at subsidies.
Last edited by abucha3; 2 weeks ago
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abucha3
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(Original post by LiberOfLondon)
Aye.
Thank you for your support.
(Original post by The Mogg)
Despite disagreeing with the bill, I will be abstaining in (somewhat) support of my fellow comrade and the will of the party to allow it.
Thank you for agreeing to abstain. Why do you disagree with the bill? Could I convince you to support it?
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The Mogg
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(Original post by abucha3)
Thank you for agreeing to abstain. Why do you disagree with the bill? Could I convince you to support it?
Probably not, animal welfare has never been something I particularly cared about, so the pros of this do not outweigh the cons for me. One of the cons being as you've already said that the cost to farmers could be between 13-36% higher to comply with this bill.
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abucha3
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(Original post by The Mogg)
Probably not, animal welfare has never been something I particularly cared about, so the pros of this do not outweigh the cons for me. One of the cons being as you've already said that the cost to farmers could be between 13-36% higher to comply with this bill.
If that was one of your main concerns, we could look at extending the implementation period to soften the impact; perhaps the end of the year is insufficient to allow farmers to prepare.

I honestly used to care very little about animal welfare. I am certainly not an animal rights activist by any stretch of the imagination, and I eat meat. However, I do feel that we have a basic duty to ensure that the animals we do exploit or slaughter for our consumption, that we treat them in the fairest possible way.

At the end of the day, animals are sentient beings, and is it right for a chicken to be kept in a dark cage with about 20 other chickens with no room to breathe, who end up pecking and injuring each other, just so that the farmer can produce a few extra eggs (of inferior quality by the way)? If you googled battery cage hens, some of the images are horrific.

I am not suggesting anything radical. More so, a sensible way of making sure that we treat the animals we do consume in the fairest possible way and minimise the harm we cause them.
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
Is it appropriate for lobbyists to review definitions that are not unreasonably pretty definite with the implication being that these rather definite definitions are not so definite after all?
Yeah, I'm a bit uncomfortable about this bit of the bill and the way the RSPCA are allowed to be both a campaigning and an enforcement organisation generally.

Otherwise I'm supportive.
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Cabin19
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I support this bill but also would like too make sure all imports of chicken eggs that don't meet the requirements of this bill should be banned. As be unfair for UK farmers to meet the requirements of this bill at a added cost then are undercut by cheap imports of caged hen eggs.
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shadowdweller
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In full support of this.
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Rakas21
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Mr Speaker, this bill has my full support.
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The Mogg
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(Original post by abucha3)
I do feel that we have a basic duty to ensure that the animals we do exploit or slaughter for our consumption, that we treat them in the fairest possible way.
This is the fundamental issue which ensures that I can't Aye this bill, I don't feel this same basic duty you feel to these animals.
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SnowMiku
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I agree with the fundamentals that chickens shouldn't be caged and that free range is the best way to go. My only gripe with it is that the definitions shouldn't be re-checked every year because they're still the same practices? Also, IIRC, the RSPCA is a charity and non-for-profit. If anything, a government agency should keep that up to date.

Otherwise, would support 100%.
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