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Animals in Scientific Procedures

Volume 545: debated on Thursday 17 May 2012

I am pleased to inform the House that I have today placed in the Library and published the Government’s response to the public consultation on the options for transposition of European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. Directive 2010/63/EU will replace Directive 86/609/EEC on which current United Kingdom legislation—the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986—is based. In common with other member states, the UK must transpose the provisions of the new directive into legislation by 10 November 2012 and implement them from 1 January 2013.

The Government welcome the new directive which strengthens the protection of animals used in scientific procedures and promotes the development, validation, acceptance and implementation of methods and strategies that replace, reduce and refine the scientific use of animals (the 3Rs). It also sets down detailed rules to ensure harmonisation and the proper functioning of the internal market. These are intended to rectify variations in the implementation of Directive 86/609/EEC which have tended to create barriers to trade in products and substances developed using animals in research and testing.

The public consultation was launched on 13 June 2011 and closed on 5 September 2011. The consultation paper invited views on the options for transposing the new directive and on the accompanying impact assessment. Responses were received from over 13,000 individuals and 98 organisations.

The Government’s response summarises the responses to all of the questions included in the public consultation and explains how we propose to transpose each of the articles and annexes of the new directive. The response also includes an estimate of the impact of our preferred approach to transposition of each of the provisions of the new directive.

In line with Government policy on the implementation of European legislation, we propose to “copy out” most of the provisions of the directive. There are, however, a number of areas in which we intend to retain current stricter United Kingdom standards. For example, we propose to retain special protection for dogs, cats and horses as well as non-human primates and to retain all current United Kingdom care and accommodation standards that are stricter than those set out in annex III to the directive. All are justified on animal welfare grounds or to maintain public confidence that animals used in experiments and testing will continue to receive a very high-level of protection.

We also propose to retain the current requirement that individuals carrying out regulated procedures on animals must hold a personal licence authorising them to do so. We will, however, explore the opportunities to simplify the detail of personal licence authorities and to remove current requirements which increase regulation without adding to the effectiveness of the licensing process. We will ensure any changes avoid detrimental impacts on levels of compliance or animal welfare and protection.

The directive introduces inspection for all member states but with a minimum frequency much lower than we currently practise in the United Kingdom. We propose to retain our current risk-based approach to inspection and are committed to maintaining a strong and properly resourced inspectorate and a full programme of inspections.

We estimate that these proposals will have no significant impact on costs or competitiveness.

The Government’s response can be found at: http://www. homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/animal-research/