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CHAIRMAN

Alan Jones

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Alan Jones

CHAIRMAN'S MESSAGE - APRIL 2018

There is an old adage about buses, that states that you wait ages for one, and then three come along at once. The metaphor could well be applied to Government legislation that affects parrot keepers. PS officials are attending a ‘CITES Open Day’ at Bristol on 22nd March, and a second postponed due to bad weather will be re-scheduled in April or May. The latter is to discuss the hoped-for continuation of the status quo after Brexit, whereby the free movement of animals and birds between the UK and Europe can continue without added restrictions. All representatives of the Sustained Users Network (SUN), including the Parrot Society, will be present.

The third ‘bus’ to come along is perhaps more worrying and urgent. Government departments have long been working to a) rationalise the multiple licensing requirements for pet shops, animal breeders and exhibitors, boarding establishments and stables, etc, and b) to control the serious problem of puppy farming. Whilst both these objectives are laudable, hobbyist keepers of fish, reptiles, small mammals, and birds, appear to have been drawn into the net. It seems that in the drawing up of this legislation, Defra consulted with just one single representative of ‘the pet trade’, which clearly gives an unbalanced view.

Since this legislation is an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act, it does not have to come before Parliament, and will become law on October 5th 2018. However, work continues on the guidance notes to the Act, which is advisory documentation to Local Authorities responsible for implementing the Act, inspecting premises, and issuing necessary licences.  It is the wording of this guidance that has prompted the following statement from SUN, regarding potential problems: “… the criteria being proposed are vague and contradictory, so much so that each local authority and its inspectors will have to interpret rather than be guided clearly. This is plainly open to subjectivity and ideological interference.” Furthermore, licensing will be required for all commercial businesses involving animals. For the purposes of this guidance, a ‘commercial operator’ is defined as one who –

"makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or earns any commission or fee from the activity.”

This clearly could include many breeders of parrots and parakeets. Listed as definitely included for licensing would be ‘any registered business, importer, or premises open to the public where animals are available to purchase.’ ‘Making a profit’ could include high volumes of animals sold or advertised, or high value individuals sold or advertised. ‘Out of scope’ would include irregular or infrequent transactions, or selling of surplus stock without making a profit. This obviously applies to most of our members, however, it has to be proved with the back-up of written evidence such as receipts, food bills etc., and again there could be widely differing interpretations by individual local inspectors.

The National Council for Aviculture, Cage & Aviary birds, and other SUN members are all actively engaged in trying to get these guidance notes modified, and if you think that you could be affected, please support our efforts by writing to your MP. A template letter is printed in this magazine, and is also available on our website for you to download (link is at the bottom of this message). You will need to enter your MP’s name and address at the top of the letter, and change the sign off to ‘Yours faithfully’ if you have entered ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, or ‘Yours sincerely’ if you have entered the MP’s name. Your local MP and his/her postal address or email may be found at http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Time is of the essence, as we have only days to respond, so act now if you are concerned!

Alan Jones Mar 2018

 

/en/imgs/pdfs/Animal Activities Licensing.pdf

Copy the text from the letter, in the above link, into your specific text editior and amend the recipient address & detsils and the signature to suite. Sign and send to your MP urgently. Thank you.