Friday 12 November 2010
House of Commons Commission
To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the House of Commons Commission, which posts in the House of Commons Service entitle the holder to accommodation (a) in the gift of the House Service and (b) paid for from the public purse; and what the address is of each property owned by the House Service which is put at the disposal of such staff.
[Official Report, 1 November 2010, Vol. 517, c. 495W.]
Letter of correction from Sir Stuart Bell:
An error has been identified in the written answer given to the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale) on 1 November 2010. The full answer given was as follows: (20072)
The following positions in the House entitle the holder to accommodation: Clerk of the House, Serjeant at Arms, Speaker's Secretary, Head Office Keeper and two Senior Office Keepers. Sleeping facilities are provided for the Deputy Serjeant at Arms, Assistant Serjeant at Arms, Clerk Assistant, Clerk of Committees and Clerk of Legislation, reflecting their particular need to be available on the parliamentary estate over prolonged periods and at unpredictable times. The addresses of the accommodation are: 2 Parliament street, 3 Parliament street, 2a Canon row, 2b Canon row, 4 Canon row, 102 Rochester row and 22 John Islip street. The sleeping facilities are also used by other staff when there is a need to do so.
The list of officials who are provided with sleeping facilities should have included the Assistant Secretary to the Speaker and the Speaker's Trainbearer, and the addresses of that accommodation should have included the Palace of Westminster.
To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many staff in the House of Commons Service are provided with (a) overnight and (b) residential accommodation and facilities other than a worktime office; what positions are held by such persons; what accommodation is provided; and for what reason in each case.
[Official Report, 9 November 2010, Vol. 518, c. 220-221W.]
Letter of correction from Sir Stuart Bell:
An error has been identified in the written answer given to the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr Knight) on 9 November 2010. The full answer given was as follows: (22509)
The House of Commons provides single-room hostel-style sleeping accommodation in John Islip street, for up to 17 staff who undertake occasional late duties. Staff including doorkeepers and administrative staff are eligible to use the sleeping accommodation provided they satisfy the following guidelines:
They are expected to be on duty to support the House or its Committees after 10.30 pm and they live outside the 25 mile taxi radius.
They are on duty until the rising of the House if this is expected to be after 7.30 pm and they are required for duty before 8.30 am the following day.
There is a departmental business reason and they have prior approval.
In addition, sleeping facilities on the estate are provided for the Deputy Serjeant at Arms, Assistant Serjeant at Arms, Clerk Assistant, Clerk of Committees, Clerk of Legislation, Assistant Secretary to the Speaker and the Speaker’s Trainbearer. This reflects the requirement that they are present on the parliamentary estate over prolonged periods and at unpredictable times.
Six staff are entitled to residential accommodation so that they can be available for duty at short notice. They are the Clerk of the House, Serjeant at Arms, Speaker’s Secretary, Head Office Keeper and two Senior Office Keepers. The addresses of the accommodation are: 2 Parliament street, 3 Parliament street, 2a Canon row, 2b Canon row, 4 Canon row and a flat at 102 Rochester row.
The answer should have included the information that, if the hostel-style accommodation is insufficient for demand, additional accommodation is provided in a budget hotel chain; and that a small number of doorkeepers have protected rights to overnight accommodation when the House is sitting, provided at the Union Jack Club (which is not owned by the House), but that this has been phased out for more recent recruits.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beak Trimming (Laying Hens)
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr James Paice): I am today laying an amendment to The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) 2007 before Parliament, principally to extend the use of routine beak trimming of laying hens beyond 31 December 2010, while restricting the method used to the infra-red technique only. I know this is a significant issue for the House, as demonstrated by the large number of signatures for my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West (Peter Bottomley) (EDM 260). I therefore want to set out the background behind these amending regulations and explain this Government’s approach to working towards a future ban on beak trimming.
[Official Report, 8 November 2010, Vol. 518, c. 2-4WS.]
Letter of correction from Mr Paice:
Some small errors have been identified in the written ministerial statement submitted on 8 November 2010 on the subject of the beak trimming of laying hens. The correct version of the statement is as follows. The amended text has been italicised.
I am today laying an amendment to The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) 2007 before Parliament, principally to extend the use of routine beak trimming of laying hens beyond 31 December 2010, while restricting the method used to the infra-red technique only. I know this is a significant issue for the House, as demonstrated by the large number of signatures for my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West (Peter Bottomley) (EDM 260). I therefore want to set out the background behind these amending regulations and explain this Government’s determination to work closely with the objective of making a ban on beak trimming possible in 2016.
Currently, the UK makes use of a derogation in the EU Council Directive 99/74/EC on the welfare of laying hens, which allows for beak trimming of laying hens that are less than 10 days old if carried out by qualified staff. The procedure is only permitted to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism. The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulations 2007 implements this derogation but only allows routine beak trimming to be carried out until 31 December 2010, after which beak trimming of laying hens would be banned. The ban was put in place when the laying hens directive was implemented in the UK in 2002, allowing eight years to develop a strategy to manage birds without the need to beak trim. At the same time, the previous Government established the Beak Trimming Action Group, comprising representatives from industry, welfare groups, DEFRA, and scientific and veterinary professions. The group’s task was to devise an action plan which would work towards the ban on beak trimming by the end of 2010—looking at changes to management practices or selecting birds that are less prone to feather pecking. However, progress in the control of injurious pecking under commercial conditions in England has not been sufficient to implement a ban on beak trimming without causing a significant risk to animal welfare. In the meantime, a new infra-red technique was developed and is now used to beak trim birds commercially, as an alternative to hot blading. Currently, the infra-red technique is the method used on 95% of all beak trimmed laying hens.
The Farm Animal Welfare Council reviewed the evidence in 2007 and 2009. On both occasions it recommended that, until an alternative means of controlling injurious pecking in laying hens can be developed, the proposed ban on beak trimming should not be introduced, but should be deferred until it can be demonstrated reliably under commercial conditions that laying hens can be managed without beak trimming, without a greater risk to their welfare than that caused by beak trimming itself. The Farm Animal Welfare Council recommended that infra-red beak treatment should be the only method used routinely, as the evidence indicated that it does not induce chronic pain.
While the Government’s long-term goal is to ban routine beak trimming, the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s advice represents a sensible and pragmatic approach in the circumstances we have inherited and is in the interests of laying hen welfare. A ban on beak trimming for laying hens at this current time would result in significant welfare problems through outbreaks of feather pecking and cannibalism. The Government consider it is therefore right that the legislation needs to be amended to remove the impending ban on routine beak trimming, which would otherwise come into force on 1 January 2011.
However, I want to emphasise that the Government see the proposed removal of the ban as very much an interim solution. The previous Government’s consultation on proposals to amend the legislation, did not propose any date to review the policy or any date for a future ban. This Government have taken heed of the strength of feeling on this issue and decided to adopt the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s recommendation of setting a review date of 2015. We will assess the output of this work, with the objective of banning routine beak trimming in 2016. We are committed to working with the Beak Trimming Action Group to find solutions to this very complex issue and to establish an action plan, which will include the following key milestones leading up to a full review of beak trimming policy in 2015:
November 2010—Industry to be asked to carry out study tours to those European countries, such as Austria, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland where beak trimming is not carried out.
January 2011—The Beak Trimming Action Group (comprising key representatives from industry, welfare groups, scientific and veterinary professions) will be reconvened and I will attend the first meeting which will establish an action plan to develop a strategy to manage birds without the need to beak trim.
Spring 2011—Industry to feedback the experience of other countries to a meeting of the Beak Trimming Action Group.
Summer 2011—Beak Trimming Action Group to begin to consider the outputs of a three year intervention study by Bristol university, funded by the Tubney trust, on strategies to reduce the need for beak trimming with a view to ending the practice by 2016.
1 January 2012—the EU-wide ban on the keeping of laying hens in conventional cages comes into force. As the impact of feather pecking is greatest in systems of management which do not house birds in cages, the risk to the welfare of laying hens from injurious pecking is likely to increase after this time.
2012-2014—Hold regular meetings of the Beak Trimming Action Group to gather data from producers on their experiences in managing flocks over two cycles in alternative systems, which will be fed into the review.
2015—Review established to assess the achievements on the elimination of beak trimming to date. The review will advise whether a ban on routine beak trimming of laying hens will achieve the maximum welfare outcome, with a view to reinstating the ban in 2016.
2016—Provisional date for the ban on routine beak trimming of laying hens.