Great apes have never been used as laboratory animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and in 1997 we gave a commitment that we will not allow their use in the future. This remains our position.
The provisions of the draft directive seek to prohibit the use of great apes, except in research aimed at the preservation of those species and where action is warranted in relation to an unexpected life-threatening or debilitating condition endangering human beings and no other species or alternative method would suffice.
Although these provisions appear weaker than our position, we support the proposal in principle. The exemptions allowed could only be invoked in genuinely exceptional circumstances and in practice the provision would be an effective ban on the use of great apes consistent with our policy.