MPs set to back industry on caged eggs

An influential group of MPs is likely to back industry calls for a ban on eggs that fail to meet European Union welfare rules.


The move follows fears that UK egg producers could be undercut by farmers in countries that don’t implement an EU ban on keeping hens in cages.


Conventional cages will be banned from 1 January 2012.


But Poland is among the countries to have asked Brussels to delay the implementation date for countries which joined the EU after the directive was approved in 1999.


The cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee is expected to report its view on the situation in May 2011.


“We think there should be a trade ban,” said committee member Tom Docherty, MP for Dunfermline and West Fife.


“I don’t think I am giving away any committee secrets when I say I think the line of travel will be the select committee calling for that ban.”


Some countries were still light years away from complying with the directive, Mr Docherty added.


“You obviously can’t take a hen out of a cage halfway through its life so it is obvious that hens going in cages now will be non-compliant come 31 January 2012.”


Mr Docherty said the government if it took a tougher stance and stopped eggs produced under illegal conditions from coming into the UK.


It would be an “absolute nonsense” if Brussels took action against the government for keeping illegal eggs out of the country, he added.