Government Minister lauds health and safety rules as 'over the top' after girl stopped from bringing pet chicken to show and tell

Mike Penning speaks out after girl is prevented from showing her pet chick to classmates for fear of it having bird flu

There are many dangers facing our children today, but can conkers, chickens and frilly socks be regarded as some of them?

A government minister has spoken out against the increasingly "absurd" health and safety rules saying "enough is enough", after a school child in Hampshire was not allowed to bring in her pet chicken for fears it could have bird flu.

Mike Penning, who is Minister of State for Work and Pensions, challenged local councils to use their common sense when it came to creating health and safety rules.

He said in a letter to local councils: "Enough is enough. Health and safety has long been used as a smoke screen by jobsworths who have little knowledge of the law and who want to fob people off with an easy excuse."

"I want all councils and schools to take advantage of this advice from the HSE to make sure we get the right balance in the future."

The comments from Penning emerge after it was reported a six-year-old girl from Hampshire was prevented from bringing her baby chick into show and tell because of concerns that the bird maybe carrying bird flu.

Despite the last reported case of bird flu occurring in Britain in 2008, it was still felt that the baby chicken still posed a threat.

The little girl's father, Mike Montgomery, described the rule as 'ridiculous' and said he had even offered to bring in gel for the children to clean their hands with.

He added: "To claim you can catch bird flu from a baby chick is frankly ridiculous...Health and safety is used too many times as an easy out for people."

Other perceived instances of 'health and safety rules gone mad' were,  a school in Gloucester not allowing pupils to wear frilly socks in case they tripped over them and a long running dog training group in Scotland being shut down by the council, for fears that those in a neighbouring building might be allergic.

Comments