03 MAY 2018
Caging of Pheasants and Partridges
Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the caging of pheasants and partridges and EDM 967.
I realise you would like me to sign EDM 967, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.
Nonetheless, I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of interest:
The Government is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare, so the Animal Welfare Act 2006 already makes it clear that gamebirds must not be caused any unnecessary suffering.
A Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes was drawn up based on research carried out by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, advised by a working group that included animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA. Stock-keepers who fail to follow it could be found to have committed an offence. The Code specifies that these birds must:
1. have an environment appropriate to their species, age and the purpose for which they are being kept, including adequate heating, lighting, shelter, ventilation and resting areas;
2. have ready access to fresh water and an appropriate diet to maintain growth, health and vigour;
3. be provided with appropriate space and facilities to ensure the avoidance of stress and to allow the exhibition of normal behaviour patterns;
4. be provided with company of their own kind as appropriate for the species concerned; and
5. be adequately protected from pain, suffering, injury, or disease. Should any of these occur a rapid response is required, including diagnosis, remedial action and, where applicable, the correct use of medication.
The full Code can be found at www.gov.uk by searching on the term 'Gamebirds'.
These rules are enforced by the Animal and Plant Health Agency and local authorities, which carry out routine welfare inspections and investigates complaints; prosecutions can be brought where necessary.
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