HC Deb 15 April 1965 vol 710 cc1658-60
60. Sir Knox Cunningham

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the conditions under which experiments are carried out on live animals; how many inspectors are employed to enforce the statutory regulations; how many complaints about cruelty have been made for each of the past five years, respectively; and what was the result of the investigations into such complaints.

Miss Bacon

I am at present studying the report of the Departmental Committee on Experiments on Animals, which deals with all aspects of this matter. Eight inspectors are employed. No statistical record is maintained of complaints received. All specific allegations are fully investigated; none has been substantiated in the last five years.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Would the hon. Lady, having these complaints in mind, bear in mind that the public are getting worried about cruelty to animals, and would she ensure that the number of inspectors is increased, because eight seems very little for a very vast number of experiments?

Miss Bacon

I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend will bear this in mind when he is considering the whole of the Report from the Committee. This was received by him only on 24th February this year. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary said on 16th March that the Home Secretary was not yet able to say when he expects to be in a position to make any statement but he is considering this urgently, and I hope that it will not be too long delayed. We will certainly bear in mind the question of inspectors, but, of course, I cannot commit myself at the moment.

Mr. Lipton

Can my hon. Friend say when the Report, which she says was received by the Home Secretary on 24th February, is to be published, because there is very great public interest in the matter and we have been waiting for the Report a long time?

Miss Bacon

That is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend. I am sure that he will bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Can the hon. Lady say whether R.S.P.C.A. inspectors are given any facilities or have any rights in this matter?

Miss Bacon

No, Sir. Our inspectors have a right of entry into registered places at all times, but I could not say without notice whether R.S.P.C.A. inspectors are also allowed in at any time. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would care to table a Question.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Will the hon. Lady consult with her right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and see whether there is not all too close a relationship between the number of thefts of dogs and cats and the readiness of the teaching hospitals in particular to take any animals for experimental purposes?

Miss Bacon

Yes, Sir. We shall certainly have that in mind. I am not sure whether or not this is dealt with in the Report which my right hon. and learned Friend has before him because I have not yet seen it.