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Primates (Experiments)

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons his Department does not grant project licences for experiments on wild-caught primates; for what reasons exceptions are granted; and if he will make a statement. (85885)

In addition to the stringent requirements in the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 regarding the use of non-human primates, the use of wild-caught non-human primates in scientific experiments is subject to supplementary additional considerations.

We announced in 1997 that we cannot foresee any circumstances under which we would be prepared to issue licences under the 1986 Act for programmes of work involving the use of Great Apes (chimpanzees, pygmy chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans), and that exceptional justification would be required for the licensed use of other types of non-human primates taken from the wild.

The 1986 Act provides that non-human primates, whether captive bred or wild-caught, can only be used when no other species are suitable for the purposes of the programme to be specified in the licence, or that it is not practicable to obtain animals of any other species that are suitable for those purposes. For the use of wild-caught primates to be exceptionally authorised, there must be no appropriate alternative, no suitable captive-bred animals available and the likely benefits of the programme of work would have to fully justify their use.

In respect of applications to use wild-caught non-human primates, the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate and the Animal Procedures Committee provide advice on a case by case basis on whether and on what terms such use should be licensed. Application of these stringent criteria has meant that first time use of wild-caught non-human primates in scientific procedures has not been licensed in the UK for some years.