Animal welfare (2014)

Request

The way in which animal rights and welfare are protected and promoted by Parliament as an institution. 

  1. Previously laws have been printed on velum, made of sheepskin, is this still the case?
    If so, why?
    If so, are there any plans to end this process?
    If yes, when and what will become the new method of recording new acts?
    If not, why not?
  2. Are the benches in the chambers made of real leather?
    If so are there any plans to replace them in the near future, and what are the options for their replacement?
    How will a decision be reached and what criteria will factor into the decision making process?
  3. The palace famously has a vermin problem, as would be expected for any building of its age and in its location, what methods of vermin control are employed by Parliament?
    Specifically how are:
    Rats and Mice controlled
    Birds, including pigeons and seagulls controlled
    Are there any plans to update pest control methods in the future?
    How would Parliament respond to intrusion of the estate by a larger animal, such as a fox or stray dog?
  4. Parliament is consistently the subject of a large amount of construction work;
    Are the management aware of how building materials for this work are sourced?
    What efforts are made to ensure environmentally responsible sourcing of building materials?
  5. Parliament has many eating and drinking establishments, what efforts are made to ensure that products free of animal products are available at each?
    Could more be done? For example the observance of “Meat-free Mondays” at one or more eating venue on the estate each week.
    Does Parliament engage with national Vegetarian and Vegan societies to improve its menu options?
  6. Parliament plays host to many events and receptions, what efforts are made to ensure that guests are offered animal free products at these?
    Can Parliament guarantee that every reception will be provided with one or more vegetarian and vegan option?
    Could more be done to ensure that people are aware that food and drinks on offer are vegetarian/vegan friendly?
  7. Parliament engages in many promotional campaigns for various interests;
    Are world vegetarian/vegan months promoted?
    If so, how?
    Do you feel that more could be done to raise awareness of these campaigns?
  8. Parliament has a significant infrastructure for cleaning and maintenance;
    Are cleaning products used in Parliament certified cruelty-free?
    If not, why not?
    If not, what are the prospects for transitioning to cruelty-free products in the near future?
  9. Parliament has a significant contract with the police to provide security for the estate.
    Does the contract include the use of police dogs?
    If so, what methods are employed to ensure the well-being of police dogs serving in Parliament?
    Does the contract include the use of police horses?
    If so, what methods are employed to ensure the well-being of police horses serving on the Parliamentary estate?
  10. In terms of wider environmental concerns;
    What is Parliament doing to reduce energy consumption?
    Could more be done?
    What and how?
    What is Parliament doing to reduce water consumption?
    Could more be done?
    What and how?
    What other steps is Parliament taking to reduce any negative environmental impact?

 


 

Response

Please note that, while we endeavour to be as helpful as possible, the Freedom of Information Act provides the requester with an access right to recorded information held by the House of Commons. It does not extend, for example, to requests for views, explanations or comments about a particular matter.  A number of your questions fell into this type of request.  Where this occurred, we have sought to provide relevant information as far as is possible.  Your request can be in the form of a question, but the House of Commons does not have to answer your question if this would mean creating new information, providing analysis or giving an opinion or judgment that is not already recorded.   Further information can be found on our parliamentary pages.

You have asked a number of questions about ‘Parliament’, but please note that the information given below pertains to the House of Commons only unless otherwise stated. The House of Lords are a separate public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act, therefore you may wish to consider forwarding your request to them.

  1. Previously laws have been printed on velum, made of sheepskin, is this still the case?
    If so, why?
    Two copies of each Act of Parliament resulting from a public bill (there are about 35 of these Acts each year) are printed on vellum, one for the Parliamentary Archives and one for the Public Record Office. This is because vellum copies are considered more durable than the ordinary paper prints.
    If so, are there any plans to end this process?
    There are currently no plans to end this process.
    If yes, when and what will become the new method of recording new acts?
    Not applicable; please see answer above.
    If not, why not?
    Ending this process would require the consent of the House of Commons. The House of Commons has no records of any such proposal being made since 1999. In that year the Administration Committee reported in favour of replacing the vellum copies with ones printed on archival paper, but on 1 November 1999 the House of Commons voted against doing so.
    The report from the Administration Committee: 2nd Report - Record Copies of Acts.
    The debate of 1 November 1999 - Record Copies of Acts [1 Nov 1999]
  2. Are the benches in the chambers made of real leather?
    If so are there any plans to replace them in the near future, and what are the options for their replacement?
    How will a decision be reached and what criteria will factor into the decision making process?
    The benches in the House of Commons chambers are upholstered in cow hides. A condition survey is underway on the benches, but no plan has yet been made for their replacement. Any decision on the benches, including the criteria that will factor into the decision making process, will depend on the outcome of the condition survey.
  3. The palace famously has a vermin problem, as would be expected for any building of its age and in its location, what methods of vermin control are employed by Parliament?
    Specifically how are;
    Rats and Mice controlled
    Birds, including pigeons and seagulls controlled
    Information which you have requested is already in the public domain. It can be found on the parliamentary web pages.
    Are there any plans to update pest control methods in the future?
    Pest control is carried out by contractors in accordance with the methods defined by the House in the pest control contract. There are currently no plans to change the framework of pest control methods currently used, although these methods may be adapted where required to deal with specific issues. The pest control contractor is monitored by an independent pest control consultant, who may make recommendations for changes or improvements where necessary.
    How would Parliament respond to intrusion of the estate by a larger animal, such as a fox or stray dog?
    There is no recorded procedure in place for dealing with larger animals on the Parliamentary Estate. Any incident would be dealt with as appropriate to ensure the safety of the users of the Estate and the animal concerned and in accordance with animal welfare procedures.
  4. Parliament is consistently the subject of a large amount of construction work;
    Are the management aware of how building materials for this work are sourced?
    What efforts are made to ensure environmentally responsible sourcing of building materials?

    The precise information which you have requested is not recorded. However, financial regulations of the House of Commons include provisions on promoting environmental protection as part of the procurement process:
    “All expenditure on works, services and supplies must satisfy the following principles:…….. The House’s objectives of promoting diversity, sustainability and environmental protection are considered during the procurement process.”
    The House’s objectives on environmental protection (PDF PDF 70 KB) are available parliamentary web pages.
  5. Parliament has many eating and drinking establishments; what efforts are made to ensure that products free of animal products are available at each?
    The cafeteria outlets operated by the House of Commons Catering Services ensure that there is a vegetarian or vegan main course option available in each venue every day. There are vegetarian/vegan options offered in the dining rooms and staff engage with customers to accommodate their requirements.
    Time is taken each week to consolidate the options for those wishing to have a vegetarian or vegan meal making it easier for people to ‘locate their lunch.’ This facility is publicised on internal web pages for each of the cafeteria venues.  Our suppliers provide vegetarian and vegan sandwiches and the chefs ensure there is an appropriate offer on our fresh salad bars. Also, our new wine lists will denote which wines are vegetarian.
    Could more be done? For example the observance of “Meat-free Mondays” at one or more eating venue on the estate each week.
    This is a request for an opinion, on which no recorded answer is held. However, Catering Services are exploring the possibility of providing filterable menus on these internal web pages to make locating options which are free of animal products much easier.
    Does Parliament engage with national Vegetarian and Vegan societies to improve its menu options?
    The chefs in the House of Commons use a variety of sources when creating their menus and we are in contact with the National Vegetarian Society and the Vegan Society regarding marketing materials.
  6. Parliament plays host to many events and receptions; what efforts are made to ensure that guests are offered animal free products at these?
    Vegetarian options are clearly listed on the banqueting menus offered. The choice of menu items is a decision taken by the event organiser. Our Banqueting and Events team are highly experienced at organising events and able to offer professional advice to assist the delivery of a successful and enjoyable event.
    Can Parliament guarantee that every reception will be provided with one or more vegetarian and vegan option?
    As stated above, the choice of menu items is a decision taken by the event organiser. Vegetarian options are clearly listed on the banqueting menus offered.
    Could more be done to ensure that people are aware that food and drinks on offer are vegetarian/vegan friendly?
    This is a request for an opinion, on which no recorded answer is held.
  7. Parliament engages in many promotional campaigns for various interests;
    Are world vegetarian/vegan months promoted?
    The House of Commons Catering Services team promotes World Vegan month and National Vegetarian week.
    If so, how?
    Promotional campaigns are highlighted via the internal web pages, posters, and table talkers. Marketing materials from the National Vegetarian Society and the Vegan Society are used where it is appropriate to do so. Links to the Societies’ websites have also been provided on in-house marketing.
    Do you feel that more could be done to raise awareness of these campaigns?
    This is a request for an opinion on which no recorded answer is held. 
  8. Parliament has a significant infrastructure for cleaning and maintenance;
    Are cleaning products used in Parliament certified cruelty-free?
    If not, why not?
    If not, what are the prospects for transitioning to cruelty-free products in the near future?

    Suppliers of the cleaning products used on the Estate have policies under which they either avoid animal testing completely or encourage the use of non-animal testing where alternatives are available. A parliamentary question was answered on Friday 26 October 2012 on our cleaning services and our policy has not changed since then.  The question is available on the parliamentary web pages.
  9. Parliament has a significant contract with the police to provide security for the estate.
    Does the contract include the use of police dogs?

    The Special Services Agreement between the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the Houses of Parliament makes provision for the use of police dogs on the parliamentary estate.
    If so, what methods are employed to ensure the well-being of police dogs serving in Parliament?
    This information is not held by the House of Commons. The well-being of police dogs is the responsibility of the MPS. The information you require may be held by the Metropolitan Police Service and you may therefore wish to consider submitting your request to them.
    Does the contract include the use of police horses?
    The Special Services Agreement between the MPS and the Houses of Parliament does not make provision for the use of police horses on the parliamentary estate.
    If so, what methods are employed to ensure the well-being of police horses serving on the Parliamentary estate?
    This information is not held by the House of Commons. The well-being of police horses is the responsibility of the MPS. The information you require may be held by the Metropolitan Police Service and you may therefore wish to consider submitting your request to them.
  10. In terms of wider environmental concerns;
    What is Parliament doing to reduce energy consumption?
    Could more be done?
    What and how?
    What is Parliament doing to reduce water consumption?
    Could more be done?
    What and how?
    What other steps is Parliament taking to reduce any negative environmental impact?
    Both Houses of Parliament have agreed an Environmental Policy (PDF PDF 70 KB) which is available to view.
    Information on Parliament’s environmental targets and current performance.
    Improvements to environmental performance.
    Parliament has launched a new initiative, embracing the challenge of further improving energy efficiency
    Further information on Parliament’s environment policy.
    The questions about whether more could be done to reduce energy and water consumption are requests for opinions, on which no recorded answer is held.