HC Deb 15 June 1891 vol 354 cc394-5

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the increase in the number of licensed vivisectors from 23 in 1876 to 87 in 1889; to the increase during the same period of licensed places from 19 to 54; to the increase in the number of experiments from 481 to 1,417; and those performed wholly or in part without anæsthetics from 164 to 814; whether he is aware that in some cases inoculation is produced by cutting into the eye of the animal and making the inoculation in the transparent part of the ball, which method, it is said, has the advantage that it enables the result to be observed day by day, and that in some cases the virus, which is presently to madden the victim, is squirted into the brain through a hole cut through the scalp and the skull, and that these animals are rarely rendered altogether insensible, even by the aid of some anæsthetic; whether his attention has been drawn to the large endowments which have been made available for practical physiology of late years; and whether the Government could take steps to prevent any further increase in this practice?


There has certainly been an increase in the work of vivisection, as shown by the Inspector's Reports, but it must be borne in mind that the object of the Act is to control, and not to prevent, legitimate scientific inquiry. By the Report of the Inspector for 1889 it appears that 44 per cent. of the experiments performed were painless, and in nearly 41 per cent. they were of the nature of simple hypodermic injections, or inoculations, it being made a condition of the experiments that the animal shall be killed if pain result. I am informed by the Inspector that he only knows of one case in which the operation of inoculation in the eye has been practised in this country. In that case he reports that the change in the eye was microscopic, and that the animal appeared quite free from pain. The other operation of inoculation beneath the dura mater is practised in this country only on rabbits and as a test experiment to ascertain whether a dog which has bitten human beings or animals is really rabid or not, and whether further curative measures are necessary or not. The Inspector assures me that it has no maddening effect whatever on the rabbit inoculated with supposed virus from the dog, and the action of the virus is on the spinal cord, and not on the brain. The Inspector denies the allegation that in these cases the anæsthetic is imperfectly given. The experimenter has everything to lose and nothing to gain by neglecting the anæsthetic. It is not the duty of the Government to interfere with the progress of scientific experimentation, provided always that the conditions and restrictions imposed by law are strictly and rigorously enforced.

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