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Animal (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate

Volume 454: debated on Thursday 14 December 2006

I am pleased to inform the House that I have today placed in the Library the annual report of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate for the year 2005. This is the second annual report published by the Inspectorate.

Publication of the report honours a commitment given by the Government in response to a recommendation of the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures in July 2002 that more information should be made available about the work of the inspectorate.

In the Government’s response, published in January 2003, we welcomed the Select Committee’s endorsement of the integrity of the inspectorate and of the important contribution that it has made to the welfare of animals in designated establishments. We also recognised that public awareness of the valuable job done by the inspectorate needed to be improved and concluded that this could be remedied, at least in part, by the publication of an annual report on its work.

The inspectorate’s second annual report published today provides an account of how the inspectorate has carried out its main tasks and other work in 2005, and contains a particular focus on two important areas.

First, it gives a brief introduction to the issue of the acquisition of non-human primates for use in scientific procedures and details the acceptance process and criteria used to determine the suitability of overseas centres that propose to supply UK laboratories with such animals.

Secondly, it addresses in detail the growing use of fish in scientific procedures and explains their major uses during the year. This focus on fish includes information on the role of genetically altered fish, the types of housing required, water quality and other general issues to explain handling, methods of identification and how behaviour is judged as well as environmental enrichment.

The report explains what the inspectors do and how they do it, and provides details of the inspectorate’s staffing and structure, ways of working, professional background and skills, and training and development.

The report also explains the inspectorate’s key role in assessing and advising Home Office Ministers and officials on applications for personal and project licences and certificates of designation under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. It also provides details of the inspection system, through which compliance with licence authorities granted under the 1986 Act is monitored and provides information about visiting patterns and practice and the number of visits carried out during the year.

I commend the report to Members.