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Dogs (Smoking Experiments)

Volume 889: debated on Thursday 10 April 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now make a further statement about his investigation into the use of dogs in experiments to develop new smoking materials.

Yes, Sir. The following have accepted my right hon. Friend's invitation to join the Advisory Committee on the Administration of the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876: My hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Hardy), Mrs. Peggy Fenner, Professor G. R. Dunstan and Mrs. Mary Warnock.

When does the Minister expect to get the report of the advisory committee? In the meantime, will she suspend these grotesque experiments by withdrawing her licence from them?

In answer to the first point, at the earliest possible moment that the committee can make its recommendation. Clearly, however, it cannot predict exactly how long it will take to carry out its inquiries. On the second point, I do not think it would be right to anticipate the result of the committee's inquiries.

Is my hon. Friend aware that reports of these experiments have caused grave disquiet and considerable offence to many people throughout the country? She says that she is not prepared to act and that she is guided by advice about these experiments, which the majority of people recognise as being evil and disgraceful. Is she aware that while she is waiting for that guidance more damage might be inflicted on animals? I plead with her please to act now to stop the experiment and continue with the investigation.

I appreciate the strong feelings that exist on the matter, but there are strong feelings on both sides and the committee is being asked to look at the subject. The purpose of the reference is to obtain a recommendation from a group of very distinguished people who will take a great deal of trouble to look into this matter.

Does not the Minister agree that the repugnance in which this experiment is held is reflected by the fact that more than 170 right hon. and hon. Members, none of whom I think is opposed to all vivisection, have asked that this experiment should be brought to an end? Does she not agree that the time has now come when the whole question of the use of animals in laboratories must be investigated and licensing considerably tightened up?

The advisory committee was set up for the purpose of looking into experiments which present particular or unusual difficulties or particular controversy. That is the purpose of the committee and it is for that reason that the question of these experiments has been submitted to the committee.

Is it not the case that these experiments have been conducted on the initiative of ICI? Would it not be a good idea, if that company wants to discover the deleterious effects of continuous smoking, for it to put the ICI directors in place of the dogs.