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Animal Experiments

Volume 124: debated on Monday 7 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many animals have been subjected to penetration wounds in order to assess the effectiveness of military weapons, for each year since 1979;(2) how many animals have been subjected to blast wounds in military experiments, for each year since 1979;(3) how many animals have been subjected to chemical weapons tests by his Department, for each year since 1979;.(4) how many animals have been killed in military experiments, in each year since 1979;(5) whether animals involved in wounding or blast experiments by his Department are anaesthetised prior to the experiments; and if he will make a statement.

A relatively small number of scientific procedures involving animals is carried out, principally in order to assess the safety and effectiveness of protective measures against chemical and biological attack. Some procedures are also carried out in order to improve our understanding of wounds and our ability to treat them. Animals involved in all such procedures are deeply anaesthetised. In no instance are animals used in work to improve weapon performance. Scientific procedures involving animals are carried out on important work only after careful consideration of alternatives has shown that none is an adequate substitute and the lowest!possible order of animal is selected, usually mice, guinea pigs and rats. It is not our policy to make detailed information available on scientific procedures involving animals in the defence field, but I can say that the overall annual figure which was less than 7,000 in 1986, constitutes less than one half of one per cent. of all animal experiments conducted in the United Kingdom.