The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 makes provision for the protection of animals used for experimental or other scientific purposes which may have the effect of causing pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm. The Act puts into effect, and in some ways exceeds, the requirements of European Union directive 86/609/EEC and of Council of Europe Convention ETS 123.
The European Commission is seeking to revise directive 86/609 and our principal objectives during the review will be to ensure efficient and effective regulation that properly balances the protection of animals against the legitimate needs of science and industry. We will aim to support improvements to the regulation of animal use which focus on key areas where regulation and harmonisation would improve animal welfare; improve scientific outputs; provide a more level playing field within the European Union; and improve the European Union's competitiveness with other economic regions without compromising science and welfare.
However, the directive has stood the test of time well and still provides a sound framework for regulation. Therefore, we do not believe that wholesale changes to the directive are necessary to achieve the main benefits sought of harmonisation and improving animal welfare.
The European Commission currently plans to introduce proposals into the European parliamentary process in May 2007. At such time as a revised directive is adopted, the necessary action will be taken to transpose and implement its provisions in United Kingdom legislation.