Eilidh Whiteford


Whiteford Ups the Pressure on Laying Hens Directive Violations

Thursday, 12 June 2014

MP for Banff and Buchan urges UK Government to prevent Scottish egg producers being undercut

In a letter to the Undersecretary of State today, Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has urged the UK Government to do more to prevent Scottish egg producers being undercut by producers in other EU Member States that have failed to implement the Directive outlawing battery cages.

The Directive, passed in 1999, bans the use of battery cages and outlines improved welfare conditions for egg-laying hens. All Scottish farms were compliant by 2012 but after 15 years, a number of EU Member States remain non-compliant with the Directive. Last year, the European Commission launched a court action against Italy at the European Court of Justice for having some 239 farms or 11.5 million hens in non-compliant conditions. Although the EU's highest court found Italy guilty of being non-compliant with the Directive, no financial sanctions were imposed on the country, setting a dangerous precedent for other non-compliant Member States.

Speaking after raising the issue in the chamber of the House of Commons today, Dr Eilidh Whiteford commented:

"It is absolutely intolerable that sub-standard eggs may still be imported into the UK at cheaper cost because of the non-compliance of certain Member States with this Directive. Scottish farmers have invested millions of pounds in improving welfare conditions and becoming compliant with this measure and they have every right to expect a level playing field."

"It is very concerning that a country which is non compliant has escaped any penalty. It sets no incentive for other Member States to get their act together and become compliant with the Directive. Our priority must now be to ensure that the investment of our Scottish farmers is protected and not undermined by substandard and non-compliant egg imports. That is why, following my intervention in the House of Commons this morning, I have written today to George Eustice, the UK Government Undersecretary of State and have urged him to get behind Scottish farmers and prevent them from being undercut."

The following is an exchange between Eilidh Whiteford MP and the Undersecretary of State George Eustice at today's Oral Questions in the House of Commons:

Eilidh Whiteford:
Our egg producers have been outraged to learn that Italy will face no financial penalties for their failure to implement the EU Directive outlawing battery cages. Our poultry farmers have invested millions of pounds complying with the law and as a result have put themselves at a competitive disadvantage in a really tough international market. Why does the UK implement EU Directives that other countries see fit to ignore and what is the Government going to do to support our poultry sector?

George Eustice:
The Government has consistently raised concerns about other Member States not complying by the rules that were introduced two years ago on Battery Cages. However it is fair to say that the Commission have taken this seriously and have brought some cases against some Member States in the European Court of Justice. I think we continue to maintain pressure on them but I do think they are taking this seriously and taking the appropriate action.

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