Tag Archives: Lord Trees

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.

 

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.

 

Lord Trees visits Hampshire farms with EU committee

Last week Lord Trees visited Kingsclere Estate, Manydown Farm, and Vitacress Salads Ltd  alongside other members of the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee. 

For the last two years Lord Trees has been a committee member of the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee that meets weekly to scrutinize legislative proposals from the EU commission. Fluctuations in the market prices for agricultural products (price volatility) poses a major threat to the financial security of farmers and to the sustainability of food supply in the EU. In response, the committee is currently working on an inquiry into creating a more resilient agricultural sector. The final report from the inquiry is due to be published in early May 2016.

The chairman of the committee,  Baroness Scott of Needham Market, said:

“Our visit to the Hampshire really brought our current inquiry to life. It was an honour to hear from farmers who have had to weather the storm of price volatility in recent months and years. What was clear from our conversations was that price volatility is here to stay and that the true potential of much of UK agriculture depends on farmers’ ability to innovate and diversify. We were impressed with the vision and the confidence of the people we met and we were grateful for the time that they took to share their thoughts with us as we begin to prepare our final report.”

Pictures:
Left: Lord Trees (centre) with Baroness Scott of Needham Market, the chairman of the Sub-Committee (second left) discussing soil structure at Kingsclere Estate.
Right: Lord Trees observing salad processing at Vitacress Salads Ltd.

Committee Business: Billingsgate Fish Market

EU Sub Committee for Environment and Energy visits the Billingsgate Fish Market

Billingsgate (135)Members of the EU Sub-Committee for Environment and Energy were invited to attend Billingsgate Fish Market in east London on the morning of Tuesday 21 July.

Billingsgate (117)The visit, which started at the crack of dawn, was organised so that Sub -Committee members could see the market in action. It also provided the opportunity for discussion about the impact of EU fisheries policy on the UK fishing industry and the food supply chain that follows. The visit concluded with a Dover sole breakfast.

Billingsgate (113)

The Veterinary Nurses (Protection of Title) Bill

Updated January 2016

What did we do?

On Tuesday 19 May Lord Trees submitted the ‘Veterinary Nurses (Protection of Title) Bill’ into the House of Lords Bill ballot.

As it is drawn up, the Bill would prohibit use of the title ‘veterinary nurse’ for any person whose name is not on our Register of Veterinary Nurses. Any non-registered person who used the title veterinary nurse or a name, title or description that implied they were on the Register would be guilty of an offence and may be fined or convicted under the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Veterinary Nurse (Protection of Title) Bill

Why?

Currently the title ‘veterinary nurse’ is not protected, and this is a problem because it means anyone, even if they lack the relevant training and education, can refer to themselves as a veterinary nurse. The veterinary professions believe that this should change.

Registered veterinary nurses :

  • may give medical treatment to, or carry out minor surgery on, animals under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.
  • commit to follow the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct, and keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date.
  • may be subject to our disciplinary process if they should fall short of their professional responsibilities.
  • may be suspended or removed from the Register at the direction of the RVN Disciplinary Committee if found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Consequently, we believe that it is inappropriate for people without formal training to describe themselves as a ‘veterinary nurse’, and that to do so potentially puts both animal welfare and the welfare of the individual employed as a veterinary nurse without qualification at risk.

Protection of the title is supported by the British Veterinary Nursing Association, the British Veterinary Association, the respective representative bodies for veterinary nurses and veterinary surgeons in the UK, and also by their regulator, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

See more at: http://www.rcvs.org.uk/registration/about-the-vn-register/protect-the-title-veterinary-nurse

How to submit a Private Members Bill

  1. Ensure your sponsoring Peer has taken the Oath of Allegiance.
  2. Submit a Private Members Bill into the ballot.
  3. Get drawn early in the ballot to improve the chances of getting time in the chamber.

How did we do?

The Bill was submitted on time and was drawn 36 out of 44 bills entered into the Lords ballot. This relatively low position in the ballot decreases our chance of getting time in the chamber for the second reading of the Bill; in the House of Commons bill ballot, it is expected that the first seven bills drawn are usually debated in the chamber. The rest of the time in either chamber is devoted to Government-led legislation. If the Bill did make it through the Lords it would require sponsorship from an MP to pass through the Commons chamber and become law.

The introduction of the bill stimulated wide discussions and media attention and helped to raise the profile of this issue. An online petition was launched by the RCVS in August 2015 and received over 20,000 signatures (correct as of December 2015).

How did the Government respond?

Minister George Eustace discussed the protection of the title Veterinary Nurse with his DEFRA team and whilst they are extremely sympathetic with the aims of the bill we have been advised that it will not be supported by the government. The government believes that “the legal protection already in place to make sure that animals in veterinary care are treated only by individuals who are trained and qualified to do so” is sufficient and that “criminalising the use of the term “veterinary nurse” by other animal carers in a veterinary setting to be an unduly harsh solution.” To address the issue DEFRA have suggested that the “RCVS and the veterinary membership associations work with veterinary practices to encourage that only properly qualified, registered veterinary nurses should be referred to as such.”

Where do we go from here

Despite this position the government have shown willingness to continue discussions and have invited the RCVS “to discuss further with Defra how new thinking may require existing laws and regulations to be amended to bolster and clarify the role of veterinary nurses.”

 

APGAW: Enforcement of animal welfare legislation

Animal welfare legislation: Does it work and is it effective?

On Tuesday, the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare met to discuss ‘Enforcement of Animal Welfare Legislation’. The very packed room listened to a Metropolitan Police Status Dogs unit Officer, an RSPCA Chief Inspector and an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) share their alarmingly similar views on the subject.

Inspector O’Hara, for the Metropolitan Police Status Dogs unit, highlighted that he and his colleagues receive enhanced training  when compared to most police forces. Whilst the police had historically relied on the RSPCA to lead on animal welfare law, he said ‘the sands are shifting’ and this was no longer the case. Elaborating further, he outlined several cases of interest and clarified that his unit have a good re-homing policy, with 118 dogs re-homed this year, where sensible and possible to their original home.

Mark Berry, a Local Authority EHO and member of the Companion Animal Welfare Forum, outlined the structure of service at his Local Authority, Stockton on Tees. He stipulated that his Local Authority (LA) provide a greater service than most LAs and are lucky to operate as a unitary body, rather than being spread across several departments. Mr Berry told us that statutory provision only covers stray dogs and animal licensing covering boarding, pet shops and breeding. Stockton on Tees also offer non-statutory services relating to dog-fouling, non-canine strays, unwanted animal handover, animal welfare issues including cruelty, abandonment, offences, nuisance complaints for all species, dangerous dogs, attacks on people/animals, microchipping, neutering and the promotion of responsible pet ownership. He re-iterated that many councils will only perform the first two statutory duties, yet the demand across the services in his LA is going up year on year since 2008. He believed that lack of suitably trained/qualified staff, facilities and resources, and the cost of instigating prosecutions were equally important factors behind the lack of effective animal welfare enforcement.

Dermot Murphy, for the RSPCA, stated that the three big costs for the charity and its finite resources were examination by a vet, boarding kennel fees and the cost of engaging a solicitor. He agreed with the previous two speakers that the enforcement across the country was patchwork and varied considerably from once LA and police force to another. Consequently, he felt there were currently substantial gaps in animal welfare enforcement.

In summary, all of the speakers felt that animal welfare enforcement could be improved if there were better guidance on precisely who is responsible for enforcement of the various different services outlined by Mr Berry. Furthermore, the provision of adequate resources, funding and experienced staff are key – none of which are likely to be a priority whilst the bulk of animal welfare services remain non-statutory. The question, posed by the RSPCA, of who ‘owns’ the Animal Welfare Act remains unanswered and until it is we will likely struggle on with the current patchwork cover.

Deregulation Bill & the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973

On Tuesday 18th November Lord Trees spoke to an amendment we had tabled on the Committee Stage of the Deregulation Bill. The Government proposal was to repeal the requirement to keep prescriptive dog breeding records under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 on the basis that compulsory microchipping will be introduced in April 2016 and the microchip database will contain most of the information kept on the aforementioned records. Local authorities would have the option to require further information to be kept as they consider relevant. Amendments to the Breeding of Dogs Act will form part of the law of England and Wales only. They will come into force on a day to be appointed by the Secretary of State in a commencement order.

Our argument is that in the light of concerns about the welfare of breeding dogs and puppy farming, this was not the time to relax regulations designed to assure the welfare of breeding bitches and that the microchipping regulations as currently drafted do not require any information about the breeding history of female dogs. Our view was supported by the the British Veterinary Association, The Dogs Trust and the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding (to whom we are grateful for alerting us to this issue).

The amendment (prepared with the assistance of the Advisory Council) meant that paragraphs 34 and 35 of the Deregulation Bill would be left out and no changes would be made to the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973.

Whilst the amendment was ultimately withdrawn (as there are no divisions at Committee stage), but the Government conceded at the end of the debate to consult post-hoc on the concerns raised:

 “If there is enough evidence to support retaining the requirement for licensed dog breeders to keep records, the Government will not commence the repeals contained in paragraphs 31 & 32 of Schedule 20.” HL Deb (2014-15) 757 col. GC 154

Subsequently, Lord Trees has spoken with the relevant Minister (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) and it is likely the consultation will go out in February or March 2015. The Minister advised us that it was never proposed that these measures would be enforced (unlike the rest of the Bill) until at least April 2016. Should the results of the consultation persuade the Government not to proceed then they will not lay a Commencement Order and these proposals will lapse.

You can find a full transcript of the proceedings of the Deregulation Bill Committee Day 7 in Hansard: Grand Committee.

Waste not, want not?

Question for Short Debate: Food Waste

On Thursday 6th November, Baroness Scott, Chairperson of the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy, asked the Government  what is their response to the Report of the European Union Committee on Counting the Cost of Food Waste: EU Food Waste Prevention.

Lord Trees joined this EU Sub-Committee late in the last session and is the only veterinarian sitting on the committee. In his speech he praised the report as valuable and timely and championed the idea of effective menu-planning as a strategy for individuals to reduce their food waste. He concluded by asking the Minister what other measures by way of public information, education and encouragement the Government have in progress to promote menu planning in our society.

Lord De Mauley responded to Lord Trees as follows:

“The noble Lord, Lord Trees, asked about publicising Love Food Hate Waste. Information on choosing, cooking and eating a healthy diet is provided via NHS Choices, including the Change4Life social marketing campaign and guidance on healthier and more sustainable catering. The “eatwell plate” displays the proportions and types of foods that should be eaten as part of a healthy lifestyle. The Government’s Change4Life programme provides tools and resources that incentivise and encourage behaviour change; for example, the Meal Mixer app has been downloaded more than 1 million times and contains hundreds of quick, healthy and affordable family recipes.”

– HOL Hansard, 6 Nov 2014 : Columns 1849-1850

In his conclusion Lord De Mauley said:

“The committee’s report included a recommendation on the need to work with WRAP to deliver a whole-supply-chain approach. I agree that there is a need for policy and action to evolve to tackle food waste across the whole value chain and I recognise the close relationship between food waste, food security and sustainability. That is why we have been working closely with WRAP in its development of proposals for an initiative that looks at how the food we produce and eat can be more sustainable and secure and where waste can be further reduced. This is more than a mere successor to Courtauld 3 but it will continue and expand that work, and put the onus on industry to take greater ownership. This project should influence global supply chains and could therefore have an impact in the EU and beyond.”

– HOL Hansard, 6 Nov 2014 : Column 1850

Veterinary Schools Council Launch

A unified voice for veterinary schools

On Wednesday the 5th November the Veterinary Schools Council, a new body representing the UK vet schools, held a launch event in the Attlee Room at the House of Lords. The Council intends to provide an authoritative voice on all aspects of veterinary education and its membership, the heads of the veterinary schools, are well placed to do just that.

At the launch, sponsored by Lord Trees, we heard Professor Sir Peter Rubin talk about what goes into designing a vet school and John Williams of the Wellcome Trust on the importance of veterinary education to the health of the nation.

Find out more about the Veterinary Schools Council on their website: Veterinary Schools Council Website