My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has today announced the end of its immediate requirement for testing on live goats as part of its hyperbaric research in support of the MoD's submarine escape rescue and abandonment system (SMERAS).
This research programme has been aimed at improving the accuracy of the information relating to the likely risk of the incidence of decompression illness following escape from a submerged submarine in varying depths and internal submarine pressures. Information obtained from these trials has been used to provide advice to submarine crews in the event of early abandonment of a disabled submerged submarine. This information enables the crew to make an informed judgement of the relative risks of delaying abandonment until rescue arrives. The welfare of its personnel is paramount to the MoD and this advice forms an integral part of MoD's duty of care to its submarine staff.
The MoD only conducts animal testing where absolutely necessary and all work involving animals is carried out in strict accordance with the requirements of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. Therefore, all testing using animals is subject to regular review to assess the need to continue with such work.
The MoD has recently reviewed the requirement for further such hyperbaric research. The testing programme was aimed at improving the accuracy of the information relating to the likely probability and consequence of decompression illness following escape from a submerged submarine in varying depths and internal submarine pressures. This requirement has now been achieved, and the review has concluded that the remaining associated areas of uncertainty in submarine escape and rescue relate to events that are considered highly unlikely, and do not therefore need to be addressed by means of animal testing. The MoD has endorsed these recommendations and as a result, it has no immediate need to continue animal testing of this type.