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Animal Experiments

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 5 June 2003

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
(Mr. Bob Ainsworth)

Each year, to comply with a requirement in the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, the Government present to Parliament statistics relating to scientific procedures using animals in Great Britain. The statistics, based on data collected from those conducting licensed programmes of work under the Act, are published as a Command Paper and placed in the Library.For some while suggestions have been made, from different quarters and in various contexts, as to how the statistics might be improved, both as regards the information provided and the way is presented. More recently the statistics have been the subject of recommendations by the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures, in their report published last July.In the Government response to that Select Committee we stated we would have the statistics reviewed to see how their content and presentation might be improved. This is to inform the House that I have today written to the Chairman of the Animal Procedures Committee—the independent advisory body set up under the 1986 Act—asking for that Committee to carry out a thorough review.The review is to take into account all the views and recommendations already put forward on the statistics, and to involve widespread consultation with stakeholders, other interested parties and the wider public. The expected cost of any recommended changes, especially in terms of any additional burden on the scientific community, would have to be fully justified by the likely benefits.I have asked the Animal Procedures Committee to report back to me by the end of 2004. Their recommendations will then be carefully considered.