A CONSERVATIVE backbencher will attempt to push through legislation that would ban cages for egg-laying hens.

Henry Smith, a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF), will introduce a Ten-Minute Ruling bill on 22 September.

See also: Europe aims to ban caged hens by 2027

Ten-Minute Ruling bills rarely become legislation but give publicity to a particular cause.

The Hen Caging (Prohibition) Bill, if successful, would result in the UK transitioning away from enriched colony cages for egg-laying hens.

It is informally being called ‘Beatrice’s Bill’, after a rescue hen at the centre of a new campaign coordinated by the CAWF and The Humane League.

Welfare standards

Mr Smith argued that the new law would improve welfare standards for laying hens and bring legislation closer into line with the sentiment of UK businesses.

All major retailers have committed to being cage-free by 2025, with many already having done so.

The government is set to consider the future of enriched colony cages as part of its Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

Defra will open a consultation on the matter later this year.

‘Important Bill’

Announcing the introduction of the proposed legislation, Mr Smith said: “I am proud to be bringing this important Bill before Parliament later in September.

“It was the Conservatives who rightly banned conventional battery cages in 2012, and I hope it will be the Conservatives again who transition the UK to a cage-free future.

Cordelia Britton, head of campaigns at The Humane League UK, added: “Beatrice’s Bill marks an important step for the UK to become a global leader in animal welfare.


“Indeed, seven EU countries and nine US states are already cage-free or have legislative bans in the pipeline, while The European Commission is also developing legislation. It’s clear that it’s time for the UK to take action.”

Earlier this year, the European Commission said it would table proposals to phase out and eventually prohibit cage systems in animal production.

It was responding to a European Citizens Initiative signed by more than a million citizens across the EU calling for the ban.