Monday, April 26, 2010

For animal wellbeing, opposing animal cruelty and suffering

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Completed Policy Questionnaire for Candidates in the 2010 General Election

Dear Candidate,

Please provide your name, party and the constituency you are contesting, delete ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ as appropriate, sign and date the questionnaire at the end, and return copies of completed questionnaire as soon as possible to (1) your constituent and (2) to PAD, 5th Floor, Alliance House, 9 Leopold Street, Sheffield S1 2GY; email ; fax 0114 2722225.

Candidate’s Name, Party & Constituency:
Glenn Vowles, Green Party, Bristol East

1. Hunting Ban

Recent opinion polling confirms a clear majority of both rural and urban dwellers are opposed to hunting with hounds. The legitimate sphere of personal freedom does not extend to cruelty and violence towards others.

Will you support the Hunting Act 2004, oppose any moves to repeal this legislation, and support robust enforcement of the Act?


2. Democratic Reform
The Animal Welfare Act does not cover animals used in agriculture and research. A situation has evolved over many decades whereby the Government takes decisions affecting millions of animals in closed policy processes dominated by commercial interests, with animal welfare considerations effectively excluded. The ethical concerns of the public are largely ignored, undermining democracy and public trust in politics. We need a democratically-accountable body to create a level playing field and ensure animal protection is given a meaningful voice in Government for the first time.

Will you support the establishment of an Animal Protection Commission with overall responsibility for all policies affecting animal wellbeing?


3. Battery Egg Farming
Battery farming of eggs – involving around 30 million hens every year - is arguably the cruellest form of farming in the UK. Current EU plans to replace conventional battery cage with so-called ‘enriched’ battery cages by 2012 are inadequate. ‘Enriched’ battery cages share many of the serious welfare problems common to the conventional battery cage. A comprehensive ban on battery cages will complement the scheduled 2011 prohibition of de-beaking, which is a painful and unnecessary mutilation.

Do you support a full ban on all battery cages for egg laying hens in 2012 and the scheduled prohibition of de-beaking in 2011?


4. Reducing and Eliminating Animal Experimentation
There is broad agreement that the infliction of pain on animals raises serious ethical concerns and that there are significant scientific limitations to the use of animal models as a guide to human biology. We therefore support the recommendation of the Home Office’s Animal Procedures Committee for a determined, targetted effort to bring about the end of animal use. In other policy areas, demanding targets have been identified as providing a goal even where these targets might require technological and other innovation if they were to be met. We believe in an analogous strategy in relation to animal use.

Do you support a strategy to identify and implement targets for the reduction and elimination of animal experimentation?


5. Animal Experiments: Freedom of Information
Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 blocks the publication of important information about animal experiments. PAD and the other major animal protection groups agree that researchers' names and addresses and genuinely confidential information should remain secret. Given that each animal experiment is only rendered legal through the authorisation by the Government, acting on behalf of voters, we believe that the public should be able to access all other information relevant to the ethics of animal experiments, including what is being done to the animals and for what purpose.

Do you support the repeal of Section 24 of the 1986 Act and the application of FOI to animal experiments, except for personal and genuinely confidential information?


6. Biofuels and Animal Habitats
The preservation of natural habitats is crucial to protect the welfare of individual animals as well preserving biodiversity and other environmental benefits. Increasing demand for biofuels has proved to be a leading driver of deforestation in some of the most biodiverse places on earth, causing widespread suffering and death to many animals. Government incentives supporting the use of palm and other vegetable oils as fuel for transport, power generation and heating in the EU, are driving animals such as orangutans to the brink of extinction. Furthermore, the alternative source of biofuels is growing crops on agricultural land, which directly competes with growing food for people in areas where food scarcity is already a problem. Biofuels are not a sustainable solution to climate change, unlike truly renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar and tidal.

Do you support only giving subsidies to sustainable forms of energy production that protect animal welfare, and ensuring that biofuels with the exception of those sourced from true waste products (e.g. biogas from sewage) are not supported through targets and incentives?


Doubt, questioning, evidence, reason...progress

As someone who very strongly believes in questioning, doubt, scepticism, naturalism and reasoning I was very interested to receive the email below* from the British Humanist Association ( I responded to the 'doorstep questions' in their manifesto as follows:


1. Should government departments treat humanist, secular and religious organisations equally in policy making, funding decisions and consultations?


2. Should religious organisations be contracted to deliver public services?


3. What do you think the government's policy should be on faith schools?

No publicly-funded school should be run by a religious organisation. Schools should teach about religions, comparing examples which originated in each continent, but should not deliver religious instruction in any form or encourage adherence to any particular religious belief.

Privately-funded schools run by religious organisations should reflect the inclusive nature of British society and become part of the Local authority admissions system. This non-discriminatory approach should be extended to staff who must not be discriminated against in faith schools due to their own faith either in seeking employment or during employment.

4. What do you think about exemptions for religious organisations from aspects of antidiscrimination and equality legislation?

There should be no religious exemptions from equality and anti-discrimination legislation

5. Would you vote to retain or remove bishops from the House of Lords?


6. How would you vote on abortion / assisted dying for the terminally ill?

In favour of both

7. Will you defend the Human Rights Act?


8. Do you think dialogue work that doesn't include non-religious people (e.g. 'interfaith' work) is desirable?

No - dialogue should include non-religious people.

9. Do you think that religious leaders should have privileged access to policy and decision makers?


10. Do you think that publicly funded faith schools should be allowed to discriminate in their admissions and employment?


*I am delighted to enclose the British Humanist Association’s (BHA) General Election Manifesto. The BHA is the national charity representing the interests of the large and growing population of ethically concerned non-religious people living in the UK. It exists to support and represent people who seek to live good and responsible lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.

The numbers of such people are undoubtedly growing and current figures (from the British Social Attitudes survey of January 2010) suggest that 43% of the population is happy to self-identify as non-religious, with the numbers of those not practising or affiliated to a religion much higher.

The BHA is deeply committed to human rights, equality, democracy, and an end to irrelevant discrimination, and has a long history of active engagement in work for an open and inclusive society. In such a society, people of all beliefs would have equal treatment before the law, and the rights of those with all beliefs to hold and live by them would be reasonably accommodated within a legal framework setting minimum common legal standards.

The Manifesto set out the BHA’s vision on a number of core areas of work, from human rights to faith schools to free speech. These are all important issues for the millions of non-religious people in the UK.

We have included a number of questions in the Manifesto for your consideration and we would appreciate it if you could take a few moments to consider the questions and email us your answers to We will use collate the answers for information and may pass them on to another organisation who is mapping the views of PPC’s on various issues.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Copson
Chief Executive

Support for nurses, patients and the NHS

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Nurses and members of the public from every part of the UK have come together behind the RCN's six priorities for UK health...As a candidate for Parliament I have signed the priorities listed below and showed my support for nurses, patients, and the NHS. Voters can support nurses by emailing their candidates seeking their views and asking them to sign up as I have (click here to do this).

*Standing up for staff who speak out
*Safer staffing levels
*Give nurses the time to train
*Protect the nation's health
*Improve care for those with long term conditions
*Sustain healthcare investment

Green commitment to public services

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Just signed up to all statements in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) pledge and will be speaking on how Green policies are consistent with them at a candidates question time meeting organised by PCS tomorrow night, 6pm, at The Rose Green Centre, Gordon Rd, Whitehall (had several of the emails below*). I have pledged to: work to ensure that public services are properly resourced and delivered by the public sector and that there are no further local office closures, public sector job cuts or privatisations; support measures aimed at closing the UK tax gap including recruiting HMRC staff and ensuring tax loopholes are closed; support civil service national pay bargaining and to press the government to offer pay increases to public sector workers at least in line with inflation; honour the 2005 commitment on public sector pensions and defend the rights of existing members of the civil service compensation scheme; campaign to ensure any changes to public services are only made after proper equality impact assessments have been conducted and their findings implemented. I've previously expressed my strong support for the campaigns of the PCS on pay, jobs, office closures, privatisation, tax staff and fighting fascism here.

Greens are committed to high investment in public services and to opposing cuts. We have a £44 billion Green New Deal investment plan designed to begin the creation of a fair and sustainable society ie one that has health and wellbeing as the measure of progress in place of ‘growth’ and
which reconciles the economic and social with our environment such that we can all lead decent lives now and on into the future. Greens are arguing very strongly for: redistribution of wealth; closing the equality gap; resource efficiency; renewability; staying within environmental limits;
strong and empowered local communities; quality of life (see the Greens policies/manifesto at: )


*Dear Mr Vowles,
>I am writing to you as a prospective constituent to let you know about my
>union’s election campaign, Make Your Vote Count and to ask you to respond
>to our five election pledges.
>My union, the Public and Commercial Services Union, represents almost
>300,000 members in the civil service, non departmental public bodies and
>the private sector right across the country.
>As you know, public services are a particularly pertinent issue in this
>election and I am keen to find out where you stand on our key campaign
>issues (see below). Once you have responded to our election pledges this
>information will be distributed to PCS members locally and also published
>on the PCS website.
>1) I pledge to work to ensure that public services are properly resourced
>and delivered by the public sector and that there are no further local
>office closures, public sector job cuts or privatisations.
>2) I pledge to support measures aimed at closing the UK tax gap including
>recruiting HMRC staff and ensuring tax loopholes are closed.
>3) I pledge to support civil service national pay bargaining and to press
>the government to offer pay increases to public sector works at least in
>line with inflation.
>4) I pledge to honour the 2005 commitment on public sector pensions and
>defend the rights of existing members of the civil service compensation
>5) I pledge to campaign to ensure any changes to public services are only
>made after proper equality impact assessments have been conducted and
>their findings implemented.
>I would therefore be very grateful if you could outline your position on
>each of our pledges above in 150 words or less and send your response to
>.....or by 26 April.
>This offers you a unique opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to
>public services to me and other PCS members in your constituency. If you
>have any questions about this request or would like further information
>on our campaigns please visit .
>Yours sincerely