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.

Brexit: A veterinary Fact File

In the wake of the referendum result and as parliamentary and international events continue to unfold we have been busy putting together a fact-file of information we feel is relevant to  veterinarians.

The document is available here and includes information relating to:

  1. EU legislation
  2. Workforce
  3. RCVS impacts
  4. Pharmaceuticals
  5. Surveillance and biosecurity
  6. Animal Welfare
  7. Food and farming
  8. Research

Facts have been drawn from a wide variety of sources (including HM Government, BVA, RCVSNOAH, NFU, RSPCA and The Royal Society).

18 October 2016 – First published
24 October 2016 – Table added – HM Treasury: gross and net EU contributions

Lord Trees to host meeting of young vets at the House of Lords

Trees big benOn Wednesday 14th September Lord Trees will be hosting 40 young vets at the House of Lords for a roundtable discussion on experiences both in clinical practice and in non-clinical careers. The event is free to attend and will also include lunch, refreshments and an optional tour of the Palace of Westminster. The event is kindly being supported by The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association as part of the Vet Futures initiative and offers the opportunity not only to visit the House of Lords and share your experiences in the profession but also to help guide actions being taken to improve veterinary wellbeing and career satisfaction. To apply to attend visit: and complete the online form by Friday 22nd July. If you are unable to attend in person but would like to contribute to the discussion the online form can also be used to submit comments or suggestions.

Should the event be oversubscribed, priority will be given to vets who qualified in 2010-2012 and also to those able to recommend a fellow young vet not currently working in clinical practice. For further information e-mail Anthony Ridge (Parliamentary Veterinary Intern): More information on the Vet Futures initiative is available at

Ensuring the Future Funding of Equine Veterinary Research and Education

A proposed change to the levy funding structure could have major implications for the future of equine veterinary research and education. The horseracing industry is heavily dependent on a levy collected from bookmakers but in recent years there has been a decline in levy funding associated with rapid increases in online and overseas gambling that are not subject to the levy. In response the Government have announced plans to modify the levy in order to widen the source of funding and ensure the sustainability of the racing industry (worth £3.5 billion to the UK economy) but there are concerns that the way the levy is modified could dramatically reduce the funding available for veterinary research and for the provision of specialist veterinary training programs.

The Horserace Betting and Levy Board (HBLB) currently collect and administer the funds that amount to approximately £70 million per year. Whilst the majority of this funding is used for the improvement of horseracing (primarily through its allocation as prize money) the levy also provides vitally important funding for equine veterinary research and education (approx. £1.8 million per year) and also for the preservation of rare-breeds of horses (approx. £115,000 per year). Several groups including the HBLB Veterinary Advisory Committee, the British Equine Veterinary Association and the British Horseracing Association have expressed concerns that these relatively small but highly significant forms of funding may not be fully recognized during the proposed modification of the levy funding structure.

Lord Trees took the opportunity of the debate last night to speak in support of the vital role that HBLB funding has played in improving the health and welfare of horses in the UK.  A transcript of the debate is available here.

Lord Trees asked the minister representing the Government for reassurance that the level of funding for equine research and education would be maintained and that it would be administered by an independent organisation. We were disappointed that the minister did not give us the full reassurance we requested however it is likely that the Government will take the concerns raised into account particularly as the Lord Trees’ views were shared by several other Peers in the debate. We will continue to seek every opportunity to press the government on this important issue in order to ensure that the importance of maintaining the health and welfare of the horses is fully recognized by the new levy system that is expected to commence in April 2017.