The topics covered, including antimicrobial resistance, welfare at slaughter, population control and indiscriminate breeding, and the use of advanced veterinary practice. We took particular interest in Professor Steve Wotton’s talk on the latest research on the stunning of animals before slaughter and the nuances of appropriately stunning poultry to both effectively stun the birds regardless of their size and yet not induce cardiac arrest so that the stun is demonstrably irreversible – a necessity for Halal consumers.
There was a great deal of discussion and debate around the enforcement, or lack of, animal welfare law with particular reference to import/export and indiscriminate breeding. The general impression given by the veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in attendance was one of frustration that these oft discussed issues are still not being effectively addressed and impotence that when they are faced with a potential animal welfare issue there is no clear path to follow.
The 2015 Discussion Forum concluded with a reception on the House of Commons terrace hosted by Neil Parish MP.
On Thursday afternoon the new Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations were considered in Grand Committee. Lord De Mauley (C), Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (LD), Lord Trees (CB) and Lord Grantchester (L) all contributed to the discussion around the Regulations. Links to HOL Hansard online and the Parliament TV coverage of the discussion are provided below.
Lord Trees welcomed the legislation, but warned that it would not be a silver bullet for all canine-related animal welfare issues. After scrutinising the legislation there were a number of areas where we felt the wording left things unclear, but the Minister respectfully disagreed. In Regulation 9, the term ‘veterinary nurse’ was used in the manner of a legally and professionally protected term when it is not. We suggested that the term ‘registered veterinary nurse’ be substituted because this will become a professionally protected term under the new Charter of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, which is likely to be granted in February. We await an answer on this point.
We were surprised to note that it was not considered appropriate to legislate on the site of implantation, despite the existence of a specific ISO-standard, but that the legislation does provide for the notification of the Secretary of State on migration of a microchip – which seems entirely unnecessary.
Last, but not least, the legislation around transfer of ownership seemed unclear (Regulation 8). Lord De Mauley clarified that the the new keeper must update the database where there is a change of keeper. However, and somewhat confusingly, not to do so is not listed as an offence. The Noble Lord the Minister intends to write to us on any points he had not addressed or wished to address further.
Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW)
After a long Easter recess that caused the previous date to be postponed, Lord Trees participated in a much anticipated meeting of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) on Tuesday 6th May. The meeting was due to follow the publication of a report by the European Commission on whether consumers want to see stunning or slaughter method information on meat labels. Unfortunately, the release date of the report was pushed back and the meeting had to go ahead without this update. The meeting was well attended and there was a robust exchange of ideas around the question:
“What Is Humane Slaughter and How Do We Ensure Welfare Standards Are Met?”
The Panel, chaired by the Rt. Hon. Neil Parish MP, was as follows:
Kenneth Clarke BSc, BVSc MRCVS-Veterinary Consultant (formerly oversaw Public Health and
Robin Hargreaves BVSc MRCVS – President of the British Veterinary Association
Russell Fielding – Retired slaughterman.
Rizvan Khalid – Euro Quality Lambs Ltd
Shimon Cohen – Shechita UK
Leon Pein – Biblical Foods Limited
Outcomes are yet to follow.
A think tank for veterinary and para-veterinary policy.