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Poultry: Animal Welfare

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 17 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what legislation governs the welfare of battery hens; whether any proposed changes to this legislation are being considered; and if he will make a statement. (137001)

[holding answer 14 May 2007]: Council Directive 99/74/EC lays down minimum standards for the welfare of laying hens. The directive bans the practice of keeping laying hens in conventional cages throughout the EU from 1 January 2012. This has been implemented in England through the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No. 1646).

The directive specifically requires the EU Commission to prepare a report on the various systems that exist for keeping laying hens, including their health and environmental impact. The report will also take into account the socio-economic implications of the various systems and their effects on the Community's economic partners.

We will consider the report and the evidence it contains once it is published. In the meantime, our policy remains that there should be no conventional cages from 2012. Reviewing the future of conventional cages on an EU basis will ensure that any legislative changes apply to all EU producers, thus avoiding the risk of simply displacing egg production to other countries.