To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list in the Official Report the changes from current regulations which will arise as a result of the application of the statutory rule 1987 No. 425 Welfare of Battery Hens Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987; and if he will indicate the consultations that have taken place with the industry concerned before their introduction and what effect the application of these regulations will have on the number of battery hens kept in Northern Ireland at the present time and on the profitability of battery hens.
[holding answer 17 December 1987]: The principal change is the setting of minimum space requirements for battery hens effective for new cage installations from 1 January 1988 and for existing cage installations from 1 January 1995. All other requirements set by the regulations were already the subject of welfare codes and the Welfare of Livestock (Intensive Units) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1978 SR No. 360.The industry was consulted at various stages of the basic European Community draft legislation and subsequently on the preparation of the Northern Ireland subordinate legislation.The immediate impact on numbers and profitability of battery hens is negligible. As the standards required apply to the entire community there should not he any adverse effect peculiar to Northern Ireland.