The use of animals in experiments and other scientific procedures is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which puts into effect, and in some ways exceeds, European Union Directive 86/609/EEC. The 1986 Act provides a strong regulatory framework balancing the need to protect animals from unnecessary suffering with the legitimate requirements of the scientific community, and the public, for medical and other essential research and testing.
The operation of the 1986 Act has been regularly reviewed since it first came into force. Full-scale reviews have been carried out by the Animal Procedures Committee which published its 10 year review of the operation of the Act in 1998, and by the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures which reported in July 2002. In addition, specific aspects of the operation of the 1986 Act have been reviewed at various times by the Animal Procedures Committee, which is required under section 20 of the Act to advise the Secretary of State on matters concerned with Act and her functions under it. The Animal Procedures Committee has, for example, in the last five years, reviewed the use and acquisition of non-human primates, the cost benefit assessment of the use of animals in research, the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals published under section 21 of the Act, modular training for licence applicants and schedule 1 to the Act dealing with appropriate methods of humane killing
In due course, the current revision of Directive 86/609 will provide a further opportunity to review the regulation of animal experiments.