Following this post, I e-mailed my MP. I am pleased to say that I received a speedy response, as follows:
"Thank you for contacting me about the potential importation of illegal eggs into the UK from Europe.
I understand your concerns and let me take this opportunity to assure you that the UK has already implemented EU Directive 99/74/EC, which bans the use of battery cages for hens. From 2012 British farmers will only be able to use, as a minimum, better welfare cages that provide laying hens more space to move about. Free range, barn and organic systems will also be permitted.
The Government wants to ensure that UK producers who have made significant investments to comply with the legislation are not disadvantaged if other countries do not meet the 2012 deadline. Ministers are therefore pressing hard on the European Commission to ensure that the 2012 deadline is met by all Member States. The Government has told the European Commission that there must be no derogation for those Member States who have not yet implemented the ban.
Within the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has stated it will be illegal to market eggs as "Grade A" eggs (which nearly all imports are) if they do not comply with the Directive, and will be taking additional measures to enforce this.
The Department also intends to take firm action against any UK producer still keeping hens in conventional cages after 1 January 2012."
Although this may sound good, it isn't. My MP was telling me about the new and improved cages which in actual fact aren't much better than the original battery cages. Hence, I felt compelled to write the following response:
"Thank you very much for your speedy response. I am relieved that in 2012 British farmers must use better welfare cages, however, slightly bigger or so called "enriched" cages are still not enough unfortunately and not much improvement on battery cages. As hens are naturally inquisitive animals that like to perch, exercise, preen, dustbathe, forage and nest it is of great concern that hens will not be able to carry out these natural behaviours very easily whilst in cages.
Ideally, all laying hens would be kept in well-managed, free-range or barn systems and I hope this is something that the government will consider."
I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, let me know what your MP says and how you responded. Please feel free to use the text above which I took from the RSPCA's website and amended slightly.