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Animal Experimentation

Volume 76: debated on Monday 1 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current membership of the Home Office advisory committee on animal experimentation; and if he will list the reasons why each member was appointed.

Chairman:

  • Baroness Warnock of Weeke

Members:

  • Lord Adrian
  • Dr. M. Balls
  • Professor D. Blackman
  • J. Price
  • Dr. C. Coid
  • Professor A. Dayan
  • Professor G. Dunstan
  • T. Field-Fisher
  • Dr. J. Hampson
  • C. Hollands
  • Dr. S. Jennett
  • Lady Lloyd
  • Dr. B. Newbould
  • Sir William Paton
  • N. Snodgrass.

The membership reflects a wide range of disciples necessary for consideration of the scientific and ethical questions referred to the committee. But each member is appointed for the personal contribution he or she is expected to make to discussion, not as a representative of particular interests.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will permit the Home Office inspector who visited the research establishment of the Royal College of Surgeons at Downe, Kent, to give evidence at the forthcoming appeal of the Royal College of Surgeons against its recent conviction for cruelty; and if he will make a statement.

No inspector has been asked to give evidence. My right hon. and learned Friend would, of course, raise no objection if an inspector was asked.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if a Home Office inspector visited the research establishment of the Royal College of Surgeons at Downe, Kent, on 18 June; if any other official of his Department visited on the same date; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he will list the visits his Department's inspectors have made to Buckston Bourne farm in each of the last five years.

In my reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Holland and Boston (Mr. Body) on 12 December 1984 at column 483, I listed the visits made by the inspector in the five years up to 16 May 1984. Between then and the end of 1984, inspections were carried out on 18 June, 30 August, 29 and 30 October and 17 December. The inspection of 18 June was carried out by the inspector alone; he inspected the experimental animals for which my right hon. and learned Friend has responsibility under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, not the breeding colony which is not currently subject to statutory controls.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if Home Office inspectors make it their policy to look at all incident reports relating to establishments they inspect; and if he will make a statement.

During an inspection, it is the usual practice of inspectors to inquire about the general health of experimental animals and any particular problems which may have arisen since their last visit. They may also ask to seen any relevant records relating to animal health and welfare. I see no need for them to examine every record in every case.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent changes there have been in the personnel in his Department's inspectorate relating to experiments on living animals; for what reasons; and if he will make a statement.

Four new inspectors were appointed between October 1983 and February 1984 to fill vacancies. There have been no changes since then.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the disciplinary code applying to staff of his Department's inspectorate relating to experiments on living animals; and if he will make a statement.

Members of the cruelty to animals inspectorate are subject to the same disciplinary procedures as other civil servants. These are set out in the Civil Service pay and conditions of service code, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy regarding the conditions in which social primates kept for animal experimentation should be kept in licensed establishments; what conditions he lays down regarding (a) cage size and (b) meeting their behavioural needs; and if he will make a statement.

It is my right hon. and learned Friend's policy for all experimental animals to be kept under the best possible conditions consistent with the method of the experiment and the characteristics of the species. He requires them to be kept in cages large enough for them to be able to move freely and to see and associate with others of their species if it is practicable and appropriate. Primates, as highly intelligent, wild animals, pose special problems which licensees try to overcome and, particularly in the case of small primates, do overcome with skill and imagination.The Royal Society is currently devising guidelines on animal accommodation, including that of primates. My right hon. and learned Friend hopes to be able to incorporate guidelines in a code of practice which he would be empowered to issue under the new legislation planned to replace the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876.

asked the Secretary for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to prohibit individuals and bodies taking in or otherwise obtaining custody of unwanted and abandoned animals from disposing of them directly or indirectly for the purpose of vivisection; and if he will make a statement.

The new legislation which is planned to replace the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 will as a general rule, require animals used in laboratories to be purpose-bred and will prohibit the use of stray dogs and cats. We do not intend to debar the use of other unwanted animals — for instance, farm animals—in scientific procedures.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any member of his Department has had discussions with the Royal College of Surgeons about the implications of its conviction for cruelty involving a monkey, Rage; and if he will make a statement.

Yes. The content of discussions between officials of the Department and licensees or responsible authorities under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 are confidential to the parties concerned. The Royal College of Surgeons has appealed against the conviction.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if Her Majesty's Government will seek powers to ensure that tests for eye irritancy are carried out using the non-animal alternatives recently developed rather than using conscious rabbits as at present; and if he will make a statement.

There is not yet any proven non-sentient alternative which can safely be used in place of a live animal. However, before any substance which may cause eye irritation is tested in one eye of a live animal, screening tests involving alternatives such as an isolated eye, or skin are normally carried out. Published guidelines, such as the DHSS guidelines for the testing of chemicals for toxicity, remind researchers of the desirability of in vitro tests to ensure that corneal irritants are not applied unnecessarily to animals' eyes. Active research into this area is being carried out in this country and abroad, with a view to identifying further alternatives to these tests.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list in the Official Report all those organisations which have made formal representations following the publication of the last White Paper on experimental procedures on living animals.

The major organisations which have submitted comments on the White Paper are as follows:

Universities

  • Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom
  • Aberdeen University
  • Birmingham University
  • Cambridge University
  • Glasgow University
  • Liverpool University
  • London University
    • Guy's Hospital Medical School
    • Hammersmith Hospital
    • Royal Postgraduate Medical School
    • Imperial College of Science and Technology
    • Middlesex Hospital Medical School
    • St. Mary's Hospital Medical School
    • Newcastle upon Tyne University
    • Surrey University

Scientific and Professional Societies

  • Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists
  • Biochemical Society
  • Biological Council
  • British Laboratory Animals Veterinary Association
  • British Psychological Society
  • British Toxicology Society
  • British Veterinary Association
  • Institute of Biology
  • Laboratory Animals' Science Association
  • Mammal Society
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
  • Physiological Society
  • Research Defence Society
  • Royal College of Pathologists
  • Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
  • Society for Experimental Biology

Industry and Associated Organisations

  • Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Association of Independent Contract Research Organisations
  • Beecham Pharmaceuticals
  • Boots Company plc
  • British Agrochemicals Association
  • British Industrial Biological Research Association
  • Celltech Limited
  • Chemical Industries Association
  • Ciba-Geigy Pharmaceuticals Division
  • Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumary Association Ltd.
  • FBC Ltd.
  • Fisons plc
  • Glaxo Group Research Limited
  • Hazelton Laboratories (Europe) Ltd.
  • Hoechst UK Ltd.
  • ICI plc
  • Miles Laboratory Ltd.
  • Roche Ltd.
  • Searle Research and Development
  • Wellcome Research Laboratory

Animal Welfare Organisations

  • Animal Aid
  • British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection
  • Committee for the Reform of Animal Experimentation
  • Crusade Against All Cruelty to Animals Ltd.
  • Farm Animal Welfare Co-ordinating Executive
  • Flesh and Blood
  • Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments
  • National Anti-Vivisection Society Ltd.
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Scottish Anti-Vivisection Society
  • Scottish Society for the Prevention of Vivisection
  • Universities Federation for Animal Welfare

Others

  • Agricultural Research Council
  • British Association for Cancer Research
  • General Synod of the Church of England
  • Medical Research Council
  • Medical Research Council (MRC Radiobiology Unit)
  • Natural Environment Research Council
  • Nature Conservancy Council
  • Pharmaceuticals Economic Development Committee
  • University Grants Committee