Skip to main content

Animal Experiments

Volume 468: debated on Monday 3 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons her Department has decided to end the work of the Research and Alternatives Sub-committee of the Animal Procedures Committee. (169586)

The Animal Procedures Committee is an independent non-departmental public body and as such the Home Office plays no role in decisions about the work of its sub-committees. However the Committee has now wound down its Research and Alternatives Sub-Committee following the transfer of the Home Office budget for research into alternatives to the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). The decision to transfer the budget was announced on 21 May 2004, Official Report, column 69WS and implemented a recommendation of the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures which reported in July 2002.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will make a statement on the use of carbon dioxide to destroy animals regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. (169882)

Schedule 1 to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 lists exposure to carbon dioxide gas in a rising concentration as a method of humane killing of rodents, rabbits and birds up to 1.5kg provided the process of killing is completed by one of the methods listed in the schedule.

The Animal Procedures Committee completed a review of Schedule 1 of the 1986 Act and published its report and recommendations in December 2006. The scientific evidence relating to this killing method continues to evolve and following on from their report the Committee has agreed to monitor and consider new research into the use of carbon dioxide for the purpose of killing with a view to making further recommendations on whether the current use of carbon dioxide for killing specified laboratory animals should remain a Schedule 1 method. On receipt of their findings we will consider what, if any, action to take.

The full Animal Procedures Committee report on Schedule 1 and the Home Office response is published in the Report of the Animal Procedures Committee for 2006 [HC41].

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason the Animal Procedures Committee has been asked to consider the criteria for the discharge of genetically altered animals from the controls of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. (169885)

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 makes provision for the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes and subjected to regulated procedures which may cause pain, suffering distress or lasting harm. As genetically modified animals are assumed to be potentially more prone to pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm as a result of the genetic alteration than the background strain from which they are derived their production, breeding and use is regulated under the 1986 Act.

It has, however, always been accepted that there will be some lines of genetically modified animals that are not predisposed to these harms, and administrative provision has been made for the discharge of such animals (at least for breeding purposes) from the controls of the Act. However, in practice, no such lines have, so far, been discharged from the controls of the Act.

In view of this, and as the current discharge criteria were formulated some years ago, the Animal Procedures Committee has been asked to advise on whether the discharge criteria should be revised in the light of the current state of knowledge regarding refined methods of welfare assessments and phenotyping of genetically altered animals. Should they so advise, the aim would be to remove any unnecessary obstacles currently preventing strains being discharged from the controls of the 1986 Act without weakening the provisions for the welfare of protected animals.