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Animal Procedures Committee

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many members of the Animal Procedures Committee have (a) a background and (b) expertise in animal welfare; and what the selection criteria are to become a member of the Committee. (82675)

The Animal Procedures Committee (APC) is an independent body set up under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 to advise the Home Secretary and the Department of Health, Social Security and Public Safety Northern Ireland Minister on matters concerned with the 1986 Act and their functions under it.

Excluding the chairman, there must be a minimum of 12 members, one must be a lawyer and at least two thirds must be medical practitioners, veterinary surgeons or have qualifications or experience in a biological subject. At least half of the members must not have held a licence to carry out procedures on animals within the last six years and animal welfare interests must be adequately represented. The Act places certain restrictions on the balance of interests and competences to be represented and also limits the maximum term of membership to two consecutive terms of four years.

There are currently 19 members of the Committee (including the chairman). Seven have a background and expertise in animal welfare. However, all members of the committee share a common concern for the welfare of the animals used in scientific procedures, and, under section 20(2) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, in considering any matter must have regard both to the legitimate requirements of science and industry and to the protection of animals against avoidable suffering and unnecessary use.

All appointments are made jointly with the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland (DHSSPSNI). Members are selected on personal merit, and not as nominees, delegates or representatives of any organisations or pressure groups. The posts are unpaid. Nevertheless, every effort is made to ensure that the Nolan principles are applied and to that end we entrust the management of the process to the Appointments Commission. All appointments to the Animal Procedures Committee are announced publicly.