§ 52. Mr. E. Johnson
asked the Minister of Supply what is the purpose of the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment; and why it was necessary to 30 destroy 3,000 animals in six months at that establishment, in particular the 32 cats, 42 dogs, 20 pigs and 31 sheep.
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. Aubrey Jones)
The purpose of the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment is to devise means of defence against the possible use of chemical weapons in war. It is necessary to this work to assess the effect on man of particular chemical compounds. Rodents are used for the initial experiments and other animals are needed only if further investigation is required into the mechanism of action of any compound, when it becomes necessary to use an animal whose physiology is not unlike that of man. Dogs, cats and pigs have such characteristics and are commonly used by medical institutions. Sheep are used to assess the danger to grazing animals from herbage contaminated by toxic chemicals. All experiments are carried out by skilled staff licensed by the Home Office, whose inspectors have access to the laboratories without notice. The therapeutic procedures discovered at the Establishment have been used with success in saving the lives of both men and animals accidently poisoned by insecticides
§ Mr. Lipton
Is the Minister aware that hon. Members who recently visited the Establishment were refused access to that part of the Establishment where these experiments were being conducted, although we now learn from the Minister that representatives from the Home Office can go there without notice? Why is there so much secrecy about this aspect of the work? Further, will he say from what source the dogs and cats are obtained?
§ Mr. Johnson
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a good deal of public concern at this apparent wholesale slaughter of animals for this purpose? The numbers seem enormous. Further, is he aware that his statement that experiments are to continue will not allay public feeling if there is to be no end to this business? Have those concerned not discovered what they want?
§ Mr. Snow
Does the Minister realise that what was said by the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) was agreed to by some hon. Members on this side? Does not the nauseating information given in the Question make nonsense of the emotional hysteria created when the Russians sent up one dog in a Sputnik?