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Animals Scientific Procedures Inspectorate (Wickham Laboratories)

Volume 519: debated on Tuesday 30 November 2010

The Government have today published a report by the Animals Scientific Procedures Inspectorate (the Home Office inspectorate) of a review of compliance at Wickham Laboratories, a contract research laboratory designated as a scientific procedure establishment under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (the 1986 Act). Copies of the report have been placed in the Library of the House and posted on the Home Office website.

Wickham Laboratories was the subject of a report published in November 2009 by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) in which a number of detailed issues and concerns were set out based on material gathered by an investigator. In the light of the BUAV report, my predecessor as Home Office Minister responsible for the implementation of the 1986 Act asked the Home Office inspectorate to review and report on the issues and concerns raised in it and for recommendations on any action required.

The review has been thorough and the review report addresses all of the key issues and concerns raised by the BUAV. The Government are grateful for the report and accept its main findings and conclusions. While the majority of concerns raised by the BUAV in their report have not been substantiated, the report identifies a number of potential breaches of the conditions of Wickham Laboratories’ certificate of designation and of one project licence held there. Action to deal with these issues is now in hand.

With regard to the monitoring of the establishment, the review has found that Home Office inspectors have maintained a regular programme of inspections and raised issues of compliance and best practice with staff in a number of areas of activity. However, relatively frequent changes of inspector over the last five years have led to some problems ensuring issues raised by inspectors were followed up by Wickham Laboratories.

It is also accepted that some potential breaches of licence and certificate conditions were not identified by the regular inspection programme. Accordingly, the review recommends measures for stricter oversight of Wickham Laboratories and to ensure that procedures for the handover of establishments between inspectors are always carried out fully. These are being taken forward as a matter of urgency.

Action is also in hand to identify and take forward wider lessons to be learned from the review with regard to the implementation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 more generally.