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Animal Experiments

Volume 473: debated on Wednesday 12 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to regulate animal testing; and how many animals (a) were used in and (b) died during testing in the last (i) 10 years and (ii) 12 months. (191771)

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 production, as well as the use, of genetically modified animals is also regulated by the Act. 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 Act is administered by the Home Office in England, Scotland and Wales and by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland.

The Act has a three-level licensing system: those carrying out scientific procedures must hold personal licences, which ensures that they are qualified and suitable; the programme of work must be authorised in a project licence; and the place at which the work is carried out must hold a certificate of designation. Home Office inspectors appointed under the Act monitor compliance with the terms and conditions of licences and certificates.

Comprehensive statistics on the use of animals under the Act are published annually. Copies are deposited in the House Library. For convenience the numbers of animals used between 1996 and 2006 (the last year for which figures are available) are shown in the table. We do not collect information about the disposal of animals but the majority of animals used in procedures regulated under the 1986 Act are humanely killed on completion of the work in which they are involved in accordance with the requirements of the Act and relevant project licence conditions. Animals taken into brief captivity for the performance of minor regulated procedures are released to the wild provided that the animals will not be at a biological disadvantage as a result of the regulated procedure performed or of its time in captivity and provided that the animals are certified as fit to be released by a veterinary surgeon or a suitably qualified person.

Living animals used in scientific procedures regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

Total animal usage

1996

2,646,026

1997

2,573,088

1998

2,593,587

1999

2,569,295

2000

2,642,993

2001

2,567,713

2002

2,655,876

20Q3

2,791,781

2004

2,778,692

2005

2,812,850

2006

2,946,624