Beatrice’s Bill: Proposed Legislation Would Ban Cages for Egg-Laying Hens in the UK

Back in 2016, major UK retailers set the goal of being cage-free by 2025. Now, five years later, as of September 7, 2021 the UK government has introduced legislation which would finally prohibit the use of cages for egg-laying hens.

The Hen Caging Prohibition Bill is informally but commonly known as “Beatrice’s Bill,” named after a hen who spent her life in a laying cage before being rescued. Since then, Beatrice has been the focus of this new campaign organized by the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, or CAWF, and The Humane League UK.

Henry Smith, a member of parliament (MP) who is also a vegetarian and CAWF patron, introduced the bill to the House of Commons in the form of a Ten Minute Rule Bill, a rule which provides an MP 10 minutes to introduce a new bill for consideration.

Chicken in cage
Image by Thomas B. from Pixabay

“As a nation of animal lovers, it is simply unacceptable that almost half the eggs on the shelves of our supermarkets were laid by hens raised in such terrible conditions,” said Smith.

Laying hens have frequently been subject to cramped and filthy living conditions, without sufficient space to move and engage in natural behaviors like dust bathing

According to Farming UK, seven European Union countries and nine US states are currently cage-free or are in the process of legislative action to eliminate cages. 

Beatrice’s Bill follows an announcement from the EU Commission earlier this summer, which stated that the EU would introduce legislation to ban cages by 2027.

The bill had its first reading on September 22, 2021. It was met with no opposition and according to the Humane League UK it can be read again in a future meeting, bringing it one step closer to being passed as a law.

Until then, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) encourages animal lovers like you to get involved in bringing this cruel practice to an end. They’re currently gathering signatures on a petition to support the bill, so sign it, share it, and get the word out! 

Chickens roaming
Image by munzelminka from Pixabay
Mikaela Stiner
Mikaela Stiner

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