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Laying Hens

Volume 515: debated on Thursday 9 September 2010

DEFRA completed a consultation exercise in April on an amendment to the Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulations 2007, introduced by my predecessor, the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick), which would remove the total ban on beak-trimming of laying hens to allow routine trimming to be carried out by the infrared technique only. All comments are currently being considered, and a summary will be published on the DEFRA website.

May I urge the Minister to ignore the protests of the United Kingdom poultry industry, which is driven solely by profit, listen instead to the humane voices of those poultry farmers who have never engaged in this barbaric practice, and implement a ban from January?

There is nothing wrong with having profit as a motive. That is the way in which this country operates.

As I said earlier, we must ensure that we do not make the welfare situation worse. Very few poultry producers do not de-beak their poultry, because of poultry’s natural inclination towards feather-pecking and cannibalism. The Government want to see an end to it, but we are determined not to make the situation worse in the short term. That is why we are considering the results of the consultation carefully.