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Animal Welfare

Volume 78: debated on Thursday 2 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received recently from animal welfare groups in Glasgow; and if he will make a statement.

I have received two letters from the Scottish Anti-Vivisection Society concerning the University of Glasgow's connection with brain-damage research performed at the University of Pennsylvania.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is considerable anxiety in the west of Scotland about the unbelievably cruel experiments on live monkeys which are carried out at the University of Pennsylvania, following which further research on their scrambled brains is undertaken at the University of Glasgow? Is he further aware that one of the professors engaged in that research has said that in eight years of research no use has been made of the experimental results for the benefits of humans? Does my hon. Friend share my anxiety about those experiments, and does he believe that it is an adequate response to say that those experiments would not be allowed in the United Kingdom?

A distinction must be drawn between what is happening at the University of Pennsylvania and at the University of Glasgow. I saw the deeply distressing video of what has gone on at the University of Pennsylvania, and it appears that animals that may not have been anaesthetised at the time were subjected to brain damage. The conduct of those experiments by some of the researchers left a very great deal to be desired. That conduct would not be permitted in the United Kingdom, and nor would the imposition of those injuries, without an anaesthetic, be permitted in the United Kingdom. The work of the University of Glasgow is confined to research on tissues that have been removed from the dead monkeys. That work is not subject to control under the 1876 Act, because that Act deals with vivisection and experiments on live animals, and does not deal with the use of dead tissues.