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Animal Experiments

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of Government guidelines on the treatment of animals used in scientific experimentation; and if he will make a statement; (77683)

(2) what assessment he has made of the merits of strengthening Government guidelines on the treatment of animals in scientific experimentation; and if he will make a statement.

It has long been our policy to assess and satisfy the welfare needs of animals bred and used under the licensing controls of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. We are working to ensure that the highest possible standards of animal welfare are applied to animals used in scientific procedures and that they are used only where it is fully justified, where the benefits outweigh the costs and where there are no suitable alternatives.

The animals must be housed and cared for in accordance with codes of practice published and laid before Parliament under the 1986 Act. These codes set standards which have to be met as a requirement of licence conditions, and the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate closely monitors compliance. In their report published in July 2002, the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures recognised the progress that had been made since the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 came into force in fostering a culture of care towards animals used in scientific procedures in establishments designated under that legislation.

The culture of care in the United Kingdom is indeed probably better than anywhere else in the world, and we remain committed to maintaining and improving that position. United Kingdom standards and best practice have been used extensively to inform revised guidance on the accommodation and care of laboratory animals adopted on 15 June 2006 by the Council of Europe.

The new guidelines include a considerable increase in the minimum amount of space that must be allocated to animals. This will help to promote more group accommodation and a more stimulating and interesting environment for the animals. In anticipation of their adoption, we have for some time been advising United Kingdom users to work to the Council of Europe draft guidelines. The United Kingdom codes of practice will be revised to reflect these improved practices, where necessary, in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to ensure that animals used in laboratory experiments are kept in adequate conditions. (78580)

[holding answer 19 June 2006]: It has long been our policy to assess and satisfy the welfare needs of animals bred and used under the licensing controls of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. We are working to ensure that the highest possible standards of animal welfare are applied to animals used in scientific procedures and that they are used only where it is fully justified, where the benefits outweigh the costs and where there are no suitable alternatives.

The animals must be housed and cared for in accordance with codes of practice published and laid before Parliament under the 1986 Act. These codes set standards which have to be met as a requirement of licence conditions, and the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate closely monitors compliance. In their report published in July 2002, the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures recognised the progress that had been made since the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 came into force in fostering a culture of care towards animals used in scientific procedures in establishments designated under that legislation.

The culture of care in the United Kingdom is indeed probably better than anywhere else in the world, and we remain committed to maintaining and improving that position. United Kingdom standards and best practice have been used extensively to inform revised guidance on the accommodation and care of laboratory animals adopted on 15 June 2006 by the Council of Europe.

The new guidelines include a considerable increase in the minimum amount of space that must be allocated to animals. This will help to promote more group accommodation and a more stimulating and interesting environment for the animals. In anticipation of their adoption, we have for some time been advising United Kingdom users to work to the Council of Europe draft guidelines. The United Kingdom codes of practice will be revised to reflect these improved practices, where necessary, in due course.