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Scientific Procedures on Living Animals

Volume 589: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2014

The “Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Animals Bred, Supplied or Used for Scientific Purposes”, is being laid before the House today. Copies will be available in the Vote Office.

The code of practice is intended to be a reference document that contains standards and advice for housing and care of protected animals bred, supplied and used for scientific purposes. Its purpose is to ensure that the design, construction and function of the installations and equipment of licensed establishments—along with their staffing, care and practices—allow procedures to be carried out as effectively as possible. The code of practice will also help establishments fulfil their responsibility to continually seek to improve their standards of care and accommodation in line with the principles of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement in animal use), striving to adopt higher standards where practicable and applicable.

The Secretary of State is required to,

“issue codes of practice as to the care of protected animals”

under section 21(2) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/3039) (ASPA). The publication of the code of practice also completes the transposition of the European directive 2010/63/EU, which sets out revised measures for the protection of animals used for scientific purpose. As part of that transposition, from 1 January 2013, we harmonised standards with other EU member states where required and, where appropriate, maintained our higher standards while avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy and cost burden.

The code of practice seeks to promote a shared understanding between establishments and Home Office inspectors of the manner in which the mandated requirements might be met. Scientific advances in knowledge and new technologies present significant opportunities to replace animal use, reduce the use of animals, and, where animal use is unavoidable, to refine the procedures, including the care and accommodation involved so as to minimise suffering (3Rs). Consequently, the code is drafted so as to assist establishments to meet these requirements, as well as encourage the application of up- to-date evidence-based 3Rs approaches to accommodation and care.

The key outcomes driven by this code of practice are:

to promote good animal welfare through the provision of consistent, high-quality care and accommodation;

to support the generation of high-quality, reliable scientific results through the reduction of environmental variables;

to implement the principles of the 3Rs through using the minimum number of animals and causing the minimum degree of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.

Publication of this code of practice helps the Government fulfil their commitment to implementing the 3R’s and of good regulation. It will maintain the UK’s position as an international leader in standards of practice.

The Secretary of State may issue revised codes of practice from time to time and proposes to complete the first review of this code of practice in approximately five years’ time. The code of practice is available at www.gov.uk/government/publications