Category Archives: Diary

Do you want to be the next Parliamentary veterinary intern?

credit: Gabrielle Laing

The internship offers the chance to work at the House of Lords alongside the sole veterinarian in Parliament. It offers a personal insight into veterinary policy and the parliamentary process; a chance for those interested in policy making and the roles of veterinarians in society to develop new skills and provides a unique career development opportunity.

The position is open to veterinary graduates (who are MRCVS) and to veterinary undergraduates at any UK veterinary school who have completed the third year of the undergraduate course.  Candidates must demonstrate a commitment to the advancement of the veterinary profession in the UK.

– £23,000 pa,
– London based
– One year appointment
– Part-time (4day/wk whilst Parliament is sitting, c.135 days/yr)
– Start October 2019

CLOSING DATE: 30th April 2019
Please see the job description on the ‘Parliamentary Veterinary Intern’ page for more details of how to apply.

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Amendment to EU Withdrawal Bill seeks to embed animal sentience in UK law

Lord Trees, alongside Peers from other parties, have proposed an Amendment to the so-called ‘Brexit Bill’ to ensure that existing high animal welfare standards in the UK will be maintained. He has written a short explanatory note to accompany it:

Amendment 40: EU Protocol on animal sentience (Article 13 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU)

This Amendment attempts to ensure that existing high animal welfare standards in the UK will be maintained after Brexit. This is a matter of very considerable concern to the public, the media and animal welfare and veterinary organisations. The Amendment would bring into UK law the principle enshrined in the EU Protocol on Animal Sentience contained in Article 13 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). This places an obligation on government to pay regard to the welfare of animals (as sentient beings) in the formulation and implementation of public policy. As such, it complements our existing Animal Welfare Act 2006 which places an obligation on the individual keeper of an animal(s) for the welfare of the animal(s) under their care. Since Article 13 is part of a Treaty it has not been embraced automatically in the EU Withdrawal Bill, so that without special measures, such as this Amendment, UK legislation when we leave the EU will NOT be equivalent to that of the remaining EU 27 countries.

Although the Government defeated an Amendment by Caroline Lucas to the EU Withdrawal Bill relating to Article 13 in the House of Commons it faced such a backlash of public and media criticism that it brought out a very brief draft Animal Welfare Bill 2018, part of which seeks to embed the principle of Article 13 into UK law. This Bill was the subject of an inquiry by EFRAcom published at the end of January. Whilst this welcomed the spirit of the Bill it was critical of its brevity and vagueness, and liability to invite unintended consequences. So we have a situation where the Government as well as opposition parties broadly agree about the destination of travel i.e. to embrace in some way the spirit of Article 13, but the means of travel are as yet uncertain.

We have drafted Amendment 40 with care to address the shortcomings of earlier amendments and the draft Animal Welfare Bill 2018, and are very grateful for the advice of Dr Mike Radford, University of Aberdeen, an expert on animal welfare legislation. In particular we have sought to minimise the risk of malicious judicial review, so the Amendment charges Parliament with the exclusive responsibility of holding Ministers to account.

Given the time pressures and the tsunami of legislation which in the coming months will be competing for a finite amount of parliamentary time, adoption of this Amendment – or variations to it – will immediately ensure our legislation with regard to animal welfare is exactly the same after Brexit as it is now. It would provide important support in our negotiations to achieve trade agreements in livestock and livestock products with the EU 27 and the rest of the world, and reassurance to the public that animal welfare will not be compromised by Brexit.

This Amendment is due to debated on Wednesday 25th April around 4-6pm (although times may vary), watch live at parliament.tv/Lords.

Lord Trees presses Home Office Minister over veterinary workforce shortage

On  17 July the House of Lords debated the EU Committee report on Brexit: UK-EU movement of people. Lord Trees took this opportunity to speak on the workforce issues affecting the veterinary profession.

He outlined key statistics concerning veterinary workforce shortages and asked the Home Office Minister Baroness Williams:

  1. Can the Minister assure the House that non-UK EU nationals currently working in vital sectors such as veterinary science will be given the same rights in the future which mirror those that would have applied were we to remain in the EU?
  2. What is the Government doing to inform EU nationals in their own countries that they are welcome and under what conditions?
  3. Will the Home Office restore vets to the Shortage Occupation List – from which they were removed in 2011?

In her reply the Minister stated:

“The noble Lord, Lord Trees, talked about the shortage of vets following the UK exit. We have made it clear that both the best and brightest will continue to be welcome to come to the UK, and future policy will be based on the future consideration of the evidence. I am sure the veterinary profession will want to contribute to that evidence picture. The noble Lord gave a number of significant statistics, and they will certainly form part of the consideration. The noble Lord also suggested that vets should be on the shortage occupation list. ​That list is produced by the independent Migration Advisory Committee, and the Government do not act independently of the MAC in this regard.”

and

“The noble Lord, Lord Trees, asked what steps the Government were taking to make it clear to EU nationals that they are welcome in the UK. We have made it clear that so long as the UK remains a part of the EU, EU citizens have full rights to come here and remain welcome. We have made this point clearly and repeatedly.”

The full transcript of his speech is available here: http://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2017-07-17/debates/C046AC3A-0357-41FF-A40E-7210AD6BC5BD/BrexitUK-EUMovementOfPeople(EUCReport)#contribution-26D32A73-7F82-455C-A287-1C8DCDC73C34

The debate was paused for a statement on Schools and continues here (Minister’s reply is at the end):

http://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2017-07-17/debates/57244431-1ABB-4DC4-92C4-5D8AF856B6FE/BrexitUK-EUMovementOfPeople(EUCReport)

Lord Trees’ contribution was warmly received by the House including by:

 

Lord Cormack “We have just heard in the splendid speech of the noble Lord, Lord Trees, how a very small but vital sector of our economy could indeed be damaged in a most dangerous way if we do not behave with suitable sensitivity.”

Lord Stunell “I was interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Trees, had to say about vets—for recruiting, retraining, mentoring and developing a UK workforce.”

Lord Kennedy “The noble Lord, Lord Trees, highlighted the problems regarding the challenges Brexit poses to the veterinary profession, and to other science and healthcare professions. He made the point well in respect of Brexit further exposing the risk and the crisis that is looming large.”

Peers interview Defra Officials on the impact of Brexit on Animal Health and Welfare

In March 2017 the House of Lords EU Select Subcommittee on Energy and Environment interviewed Nigel Gibbens (UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Defra) and Pamela Thompson (Head of EU Exit Team for Animal & Plant Health, Defra) as part of their inquiry into the impacts of Brexit on Agriculture in the UK.

Under the Chairmanship of Lord Teverson (a Liberal Democrat Peer and former Member of the European Parliament) the committee, including Lord Trees, led a substantial and constructive discussion on the impacts of Brexit on Animal Health and Welfare.

The discussion included:

  1. Workforce issues including the degree to which our veterinary and agricultural sectors rely on the work of non-UK EU nationals
  2.  The extent to which animal health and animal welfare is regulated through EU law
  3. Particular challenges associated with the Great Repeal Bill for animal health and welfare regulations
  4. Future arrangements for surveillance, prevention and control of animal diseases in the UK
  5. The extent to which a new trading regime with the EU and third countries will impact on animal health and welfare

A video of the session is available here 

Follow this link for details about the full Brexit: agriculture inquiry including transcripts of oral evidence sessions.

Would you like to be the next Parliamentary Veterinary Intern?

cropped-vprf.jpgLord Trees is pleased to welcome applications for the next Parliamentary Veterinary Internship starting in October 2017. The internship offers the chance to work at the House of Lords alongside the sole veterinarian active in Parliament. It offers a personal insight into veterinary policy and the parliamentary process; a chance for those interested in policy making and the roles of veterinarians in society to develop new skills and provides a unique career development opportunity.

The internship is made possible by donations kindly provided by several veterinary organisations and universities.

Job specification

£17,000 per annum
London based
One year appointment.  Part-time (three full days per week whilst Parliament is sitting (a total of c.110-120 days per annum)
Commencement date:  October 2017

The position is open to veterinary graduates (who are MsRCVS) and to veterinary undergraduates at any UK veterinary school who have completed the third year of the undergraduate course.  Candidates must demonstrate a commitment to the advancement of the veterinary profession in the UK.

The intern will support the activities of Professor the Lord Trees. Further details including job description and requirements for the role are available here.

The application deadline has now passed and interviews are due to take place in late June 2017.

 

Brexit and Veterinary Research

Lord Trees and the Parliamentary Intern have recently been very active in researching and speaking up on the potential impacts which Brexit may have on research and higher education.

Today, an article written by Lord Trees was published in the RCVS Knowledge website “Veterinary Evidence Online“. The article includes commentary on the impacts which Brexit may have on: the future availability of funding for research in the UK, the capacity for international collaboration, and the geographical movements of researchers and students.

The full article is freely available here

Since the UK referendum on EU membership in June this year, Lord Trees has submitted a written question and spoken in three debates in the House of Lords chamber concerning research and higher education. Links are available below:

Written question:
07/07/2016   Research: Finance

Oral contributions:
20/07/2016   Brexit: UK Universities
03/11/2016    Brexit: Impact on Universities and Scientific research
27/11/2016    Immigration: Overseas Students

 

Parliamentary Veterinary Intern interviewed in Westminster

Parliamentary Veterinary Intern Anthony Ridge was recently interviewed outside the Palace of Westminster for a British Veterinary Association (BVA) video exploring the wide ranging career opportunities available to veterinarians. The video “Where can a veterinary degree take you?” was produced in association with ITN Productions and also features Hannah Jordan, Parliamentary Veterinary Intern 2013-2015 and currently Policy Officer at the BVA.

The BVA “Veterinary View” series is available to view here.