HC Deb 21 April 1986 vol 96 cc117-34
Mr. Mellor

I beg to move amendment No. 37, in page 16, line 32, leave out 'necessary by force' and insert

`need be by such force as is reasonably necessary'. It was pointed out that, in enforcing the Bill, it would be inappropriate if a nuclear weapon were used to blow a hole in the door of a laboratory so that an inspector could see what was going on behind that door. It was suggested that we include reference to such force as is reasonably necessary. I have been advised by the draftsmen that this intention is inherent in the provision but, if inserting these words will bring peace between the warring parties, why not put them in?

Amendment agreed to.

Order for Third Reading read

10.23 pm
Mr. Mellor

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third Time.

I commend the Bill which, in proceeding through the House, has received clear and careful thought from a range of hon. Members on all sides. A necessary job has been done. Although the Bill came here after being carefully considered in the other place, manifestly further improvements could be made and have been made in Committee and during the course of tonight's Report stage.

This is an historic Bill. It is 110 years since the law on animal experiments was last changed. Tonight we are exchanging a hansom cab for a Rolls-Royce. The Bill makes many changes which will be for the benefit of sound experiment and animal welfare. Some of the changes, to which I shall refer, will have a far reaching effect. The project licensing system for the first time gives the Secretary of State and those who advise him the capability of determining whether or not certain work should be carried out and, if so, on what conditions. That committee will run in parallel, as the twin pillar of regulation, with the personal licensing system that exists under the 1876 Act. For the first time, breeding establishments are brought under control, so that the framework of control extends throughout the life of the laboratory animal, and we nail once and for all the worry people have had that their pet could end up on the vivisector's slab. Similarly within the laboratory we provide for the first time for continuous care for the animal while it is in the laboratory.

For the first time, a named individual is made personally responsible in law just as under the precedent of other legislation relating to safety at work one person has the obligation to ensure that the law is fulfilled. We have widened materially the number of procedures that are regulated by the Bill. It is an anomaly that scientific procedures such as the passaging of tumours or the preparation of anti-sera were not included in the 1876 Act because they were concepts unknown to the Victorians. We have made provision for a wider range of animals to be offered protection by the Bill, some of them in the womb.

We have taken advantage of the growth in knowledge that there has been in crucial areas such as alternatives to ensure that animals will be used only when it is necessary to do so. When it is necessary to use animals, that will be done only in accordance with the highest standards, and these standards will be higher than anything that prevails anywhere else in the world. To establish that, we have provided that there should be three severity bands, severity being a much wider concept than the old concept of pain. Only a limited number of permitted procedures will be allowed to go to the upper pain limit that is the standard limit under the 1876 Act.

There has been a decline of about 2 million in the number of procedures carried out on animals over the past decade. The Bill, by the sophistication of the machinery which it provides for analysing each and every project, offers a mechanism whereby there will be a further reduction in the number of animal experiments achieved. We can achieve that reduction while at the same time making it clear that we all long for the day when there will be no further need for animals to be used in medical experiments. Unfortunately, that day is a long way off, and we must accept that if we are to make the advances that we want in the conquest of disease, in understanding more about the mechanisms of the body and the central nervous system than we know now and in ensuring product safety, animal experiments will be required in the present state of our development.

It is clear—this is the crucial advantage of the Bill—that this measure has growth potential. It does not seek to freeze onto the statute book the standards of 1986. In 1980, 1975 and 1970 the number of animal experiments taking place was very much more than the present level. The state of human knowledge meant that some procedures had to be carried out then that are not necessary now, and some procedures will not be necessary in four, five or 10 years time that are necessary now. The important criteria set out in the Bill can change as circumstances change. Best practice will be made standard practice through the proper imposition of the arrangements in the Bill.

It will not be left to the man in Whitehall to decide these matters. Independent assessors and the Animal Procedures Committee—the representatives of both categories will be drawn from outside Government—will be making judgments and full reports will be made public with any changes in the important codes and guidelines being subject to the negative procedure in the House so that the House can always have debates on any matters that arise. Reports will be able to be made annually by the APC.

I have been the Minister who has had the privilege of undertaking the preparation of the Bill over the past three years. It has been possible to do that against the background of what is often seen as the unthinking and extremist element. There are many who have been devoted to the cause of striking the balance in the right place both inside and outside Whitehall. In bringing forward the Bill I have been served by a devoted group of civil servants and members of the animal inspectorate, who have done all the work that has been seen in the Bill as it has passed through the House. The exercise has not been conducted behind closed doors in the Home Office. We have made our views public consistently over the past three years and we have not hesitated to change our minds when that has been appropriate.

I pay tribute to all the organisations that have assisted us from the research side, including the Research Defence Society, the Chemical Industries Association Ltd., the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry, the Royal Society and many others. All these organisations have helped in the preparation of the Bill.

I should like to thank personally the moderate animal welfarists in the British Veterinary Association, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Committee for the Reform of Animal Experimentation. I should like to thank especially Lord Houghton and Clive Hollands, because no one has done more for animal welfare than they. I should like also to thank FRAME and its devoted leadership, Michael Balls, and the parliamentary group led by my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale). Without their support, a great deal of the refinement of the legislation would not have been possible.

Last, but not least, I thank the Opposition Front Bench. I do not want to embarrass them, but I must say that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) is well known for his devotion to animal welfare. He is not a man who believes in shouting slogans when the practical business of legislating is to be done. He is not prepared to allow the best to be the enemy of the good. If the Bill works—I believe that it will—it will be due as much to the hon. Gentleman's efforts as to those of the rest of us.

The Bill is a great step forward in animal welfare, but it does nothing to threaten the vital medical research and other work that have done so much to make our society as safe as it is.

10.30 pm
Mr. Corbett

I thank the Under-Secretary of State for his generous remarks. I know that he will understand when I say, and mean, that, in every sense of the expression, the Bill has very much been a joint effort both in the House and, especially before the legislation came before us, outside the House. We have made the legislation better than it was initially.

We have enshrined the independence of the Animal Procedures Committee, which lies at the heart of better efforts to oversee justifiable animal experiments. We have agreed to write on the face of the Bill a requirement that a project licence shall not be granted unless the applicant can demonstrate that adequate consideration has been given to the use of non-animal alternatives. We have had pledges from the Under-Secretary of State on training and cash for it in terms of the Home Office inspectorate and the provision of the necessary support staff for that inspectorate.

We have improved the Bill in other smaller ways without acrimony and in line with the sensible consensus reached by the three organisations which in many senses can claim direct parenthood of the Bill—the British Veterinary Association, the Committee for the Reform of Animal Experimentation and the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments. We owe them a debt, especially when, regrettably, consensus is no longer a national ambition.

The Bill is a beginning and not an end, and I know that the Under-Secretary of State will accept that. We look to the Bill's provisions to achieve fewer experiments involving fewer animals. We look to the Bill to encourage better efforts to do away with tests, such as the LD50 and Draize, and research on beauty preparations which raise so much public anger. They are proper expectations. Everyone concerned with the implementation of the Bill, from the personal project licensees through to the members of the Animal Procedures Committee, should know and remember this: in many senses they and we are on trial.

Some steps still need to be taken. Dr. David Britt of the department of veterinary parasitology in Liverpool has said—I warmly support him—that what matters most is not legislation but

a heightened awareness by experimenters of the responsibilities associated with the use of animals and increased sensitivity to their needs and their capacity to suffer. I commend Dr. Britt's suggestion to set up on a voluntary basis local institution-based animal research review committees made up of experienced researchers and those concerned with animal welfare.

The role of those committees would be to examine all welfare and ethical aspects of proposed projects before they were submitted for approval.

One view of those engaged in this type of research is that the best way to undertake their activities is to adopt a low profile behind Murdoch-like electronic protection. Dr. Britt makes the point that aloofness and conservatism in the scientific community may not be unrelated to the use of illegal, and, yes, sometimes violent, methods by the more militant animal rights campaigners. He calls for the research review committees to start a dialogue between scientists and the community. He says: Lay input might encourage scientists to be more reflective in their management and us of animals in experimental procedures. He then recounts the experiences of such committees in Sweden and North America.

I hope that those words will commend themselves to the Minister so that, if there is a response, he may encourage a trial with such committees and if necessary offer help with administrative costs.

I hope also that major companies with research laboratories, and universities, may now volunteer for such experiments. I believe that only by being more open, and demonstrating the concern for animal welfare that they claim, can scientists start to achieve a better understanding of what they are about and better understand and respond to the widespread concern about what now goes on behind their fortified walls.

I want also to make a plea to those concerned with animal welfare. I believe that the Bill has narrowed the ground between the wings of a disparate movement. There have been many divisions, and that has not been in the interests of animal welfare. Lord Houghton and Clive Hollands in particular have done much for a long time to try to bring people together. I hope that all those in the movement who want to see an improvement in the welfare of animals used for experiments will use the Bill as an opportunity to meet. I hope that they will discuss the Bill and perhaps agree about how they can constructively give it a chance to work. The Bill needs critical friends rather than critical enemies.

We shall all look to the Minister in particular to ensure that the training needed by the Home Office inspectors in the various specialties is provided and adequately funded. We shall hold the Minister to pledges that the inspectorate will have sufficient support staff adequately to carry out the field activities as well as the load of paperwork.

I remind the Minister that our expectations for increased research into the use of non-animal alternatives cannot be fulfilled against the background of successive and long-term cuts in Government funding for basic research. It has been calculated that since 1980 the buying power of research funding has fallen by between £70 million and £280 million at 1982–83 prices.

Charities now provide about £90 million a year towards research, but that funding must at best be short-term and ad hoc. No charity can guarantee that next year it will be able to provide the funds that it has provided this year. Long-term research is about people. It is about being able to guarantee to people that one has sufficient funding to cover a project lasting for three, four or five years.

We also need better and more work on the refinement of the design of the experiments, and better systems to ensure that those taking part in them have proper and relevant qualifications and the competence to be licence-holders. There is a great hole in the training of those at present involved.

The one thing that I regret about our work on the Bill has been the shabby, shoddy, yah-boo politics of the Liberals and the Social Democrats. The Liberals and Social Democrats have repeatedly told us on other occasions that they are above such things.

An inaccurate, misleading and disgraceful leaflet was issued on behalf of Liberal Members, claiming: This Bill will almost certainly leave animals in a worse position than before. At no time during the passage of the Bill have they sought to justify that idiot claim. The leaflet added: Liberals are determined to oppose this Bill. Let us see whether they have done that. The replacement Member of the Standing Committee, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey), attended seven out of nine Committee sittings; and I do not criticise him for that. However, he was not present to oppose the Liberals and SDP Members when they opposed the Second Reading of the Bill. When we discussed the amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) to ban tobacco experiments, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor did not say a word. When we had a debate about beauty cosmetic testing, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor did not make a speech. Instead he made four interventions varying in length between 16 and 59 words. I genuinely congratulate the hon. Member on his brevity; no doubt he was hoping to succeed more by stealth than by full frontal assault.

The hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) made all sorts of wild accusations on Second Reading and deservedly received criticisms from both sides of the House, and he did not make his scheduled appearance in Committee. Doubtless he did not appear because of the embarrassment felt by his right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth. Devonport (Dr. Owen) who, as a qualified general practitioner, must have taken part in and accepted the need for some animal experiments.

The hon. Member for Portsmouth, South said on Second Reading: I want to see experiments and the health of everyone improved. However, he did not say under what conditions or how many experiments he wished to see. He claimed that the Bill does little to protect laboratory animals, to reduce animal experimentation or to promote alternative methods of experimentation."—[Official Report, 17 February 1986: Vol. 92, c. 103, 105.] He was wrong on that count then and he is wrong now.

I should like to offer this quotation to the the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South and his hon. Friends to consider: No matter how strongly the law may be drawn, and no matter how rigidly it may be enforced, at the interface of the scientist and his subject, only the attitudes of the scientist are important. A heightened awareness by experimenters of the responsibilities associated with the use of animals and increased sensitivity to their needs and their capacity to suffer will achieve much more for laboratory welfare than new legislative measures … Those are the words of Dr. David Britt of the department of veterinary parasitology at the Liverpool school of tropical medicine. There is more honesty in that view and a better prospect of achieving our ambitions than the crude attempt of the Liberals and the Social Democrats on the basis of their misleading and inaccurate accusations to try to polish up a few votes at the next general election.

It is no wonder that in the remarkable document issued in the name of Liberal hon. Members—

Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

Read it.

Mr. Corbett

I will read it. The document states: It is impossible to explain in detail the Liberal policy and action on animals.

Mr. Mellor

I would like to remind the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) about that remarkable document. Did the hon. Gentleman also know that that document caused Dr. Balls of FRAME to write and inquire how the Liberal party could produce such a document? He wanted to know where it would be possible to explain the Liberal policy in detail. He wrote to the leader of the Liberal party on 10 March but has not yet been favoured with a reply.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

I remind the House that we are discussing the Third Reading of the Bill and that remarks should be related to the contents of the Bill.

Mr. Corbett

No doubt at some stage we will learn of the reply of the leader of the Liberal party to that important letter.

I conclude by saying that I hope that the Bill and the Animal Procedures Committee which stands alongside it, will achieve better results than the Farm Animal Welfare Council. The House got it wrong. Battery cages are still used. Indeed, the EEC proposes to reduce the amount of cage space for each bird. Sow stalls and veal crates are also still used. Nobody can claim that the welfare codes, which are supposed to help, have achieved what they should have achieved. I hope that the Minister will not forget that, and that he will determine that, at least in his area of responsibility, he will do better. I know that he wants to do better.

I should like to thank the Minister publicly for his open-mindedness and willingness to listen at all stages of the Bill. He has lost nothing through that, although, for reasons that he will understand, I shall not be able to speak for him in Putney in the next general election campaign.

We gave the Bill a critical welcome. Not all of those criticisms have been met, but I advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to give the Bill a fair wind against the background of it leaving us good scope to check and challenge what happens in its name. We intend to do just that, so that we can move at best speed to fewer experiments on fewer animals.

10.45 pm
Sir Dudley Smith

I should like to echo what the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) said about the cheap opportunism of the so-called alliance in this matter. He said that we had some extraordinary comments on Second Reading and some none-too-helpful ones in Committee. There are now rumours that it will vote against Third Reading. I hope that that is wrong. If not, I do not know how it has the face to do so.

The alliance's attitude contrasts strongly with the highly responsible one shown by the official Opposition. It is all too easy, with a Bill of this sensitivity, to try to make political capital out of it. The Opposition resisted that temptation and behaved most honourably. We had an excellent Committee because party lines were crossed and helpful suggestions were made. The Opposition should be congratulated on how they conducted their case.

What Liberals have said and what the document that has been referred to says is claptrap. The Bill takes Britain ahead of any other country in Europe in the protection of animals in experiments. That is a notable achievement of which all who have contributed should be proud. I have been in this place for many years and I cannot remember any legislation which was so intimately identified with a Minister, let alone a junior Minister. He has pursued the matter with the utmost diligence and vigilance, got groups together and talked to them. This is very much his baby. He has pushed the Bill through the House and is to be congratulated on his success. His is a remarkable achievement, and I hope that those in authority will take due note of that fact.

Not least of my hon. Friend's achievements was his getting the moderate animal organisations together. I should like to pay tribute to them for their helpful comments and responsible attitude. They contrasted sharply with the irresponsible organisations, which are fortunately small in number. They do more harm than good for their cause in their extreme efforts to convince the Government that we are all ogres and torture animals just for the sake of it.

Now, only essential experiments will be allowed. I believe that the number will continue to decline, aided and abetted by the Bill. We have heard that numbers are already on the decrease. All who have participated in discussions on the Bill want animal experiments to be replaced completely in the longer term. We realise that they cannot be replaced at the moment. As I have said before, many of us will probably not live to see animals replaced in experiments. But one day that will come about, and this is a definite move in that direction. That is why we should be pleased to have had support from organisations whose main aim is to ensure that animal experimentation should eventually be totally replaced.

This is an emotional and sensitive subject. It pays to have sensible and valuable discussion as well as detailed consideration. It is not a matter for vote grubbing—it is one for the human conscience. Anything that can be done to save life and curb suffering—provided that it can be done properly, carefully and with respect for the animal—deserves encouragement. This is common to all mankind. A person can suffer ills—sometimes terrible ones—and may need treatment, and his life may be extended if he gets the right sort of treatment. It is our duty to society to ensure that the best possible treatment is available to all our people. That is what the Bill does, and it does so responsibly, having regard to the genuine anxieties of many people who feel that perhaps there have been too many animal experiments in the past.

The Bill has my best blessings for the future. It is not perfect and will perhaps be improved in the months and years to come. But, as the hon. Member for Erdington said, it is a definite start, and it will proceed from there. In those circumstances, it is right that every hon. Member, irrespective of party, should back it tonight.

10.51 pm
Mr. Livsey

The alliance believes that the Third Reading should be rejected, and we propose to put the Bill to the vote. It was wrong for the Front Benches to suggest that we would do so simply to indulge in emotional politics. In my view they were trying to make hay out of the situation—

Mr. Fry

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Livsey

Certainly not. I have only just begun my speech. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will give me a chance to get going.

We all agree that the Minister has been sympathetic to the subject of animal welfare, and I would not dream of attacking him on that score. The Bill sets up the Animal Procedures Committee and project licensing, both of which are good and I commend the work that has been done. In fact, I commed the work of the Committee and the conscientiousness with which it carried out its task. The only point I want to make is that the Bill does not go far enough.

Mr. Fry

In those circumstances, why have the hon. Gentleman and his SDP colleague been tumbling over themselves all night to withdraw the amendments that they tabled?

Mr. Livsey

It would be foolish not to admit that there has been some generosity in accepting amendments. I do not challenge that. But the Bill does not include reference to the LD50 and Draize tests, which were defeated in Committee. It is not strong enough on cosmetics and tobacco testing, and does not clarify the situation on warfare experiments. We have also had a long discussion on Crown immunity. In our view, all these mattes should have been included in the Bill.

Obviously, there are good points about the measure, but it does not go far enough. As a protest, we intend to vote against it.

Mr. Corbett

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that in its 1979 election manifesto the Liberal party made no mention at all of animal welfare. The so-called joint manifesto of the Liberal-SDP alliance in 1983 backed the idea of a standing commission on animal welfare and said: This would keep under constant and rigorous examination"— it sounds like the Minister— all issues of animal welfare including experimentation on live animals". If the hon. Member and his party feel so strongly about the Draize eye test and LD50 and cosmetic tests, why did they not move amendments at the Committee stage and, more important, why were those explicit commitments not put in their manifesto for the last election?

Mr. Livsey

The hon. Gentleman is holding up a single piece of paper. We had a manifesto for the 1979 election and many members of my party, certainly on our agricultural panel, have been campaigning hard for animal rights for a long time. The criticism of the hon. Gentleman is unfair. The Bill is inadequate and we will vote against the Third Reading.

10.55 pm
Mr. Gale

I did not intend to speak on Third Reading, but having heard the sanctimonious cant from the Opposition—[Interruption]—from the opportunist Opposition, perhaps a little more needs to go on the record. I have the honour to chair the all party- parliamentary Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments. That is a genuine all-party group and I think it has the largest support of any of the Back Bench groups. It believes fervently that animal welfare is not a party political issue. The Committee stage of this Bill was refined, because in the main the debate was not party political.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) is unable to be present. He is on parliamentary business overseas. In our views on animal welfare, he and I are diametrically opposed, but the views he expressed in Committee were sincerely held and my hon. Friends would endorse that. That is in sharp and colourful contrast to the few opportunist remarks by the representative of the alliance who finally managed to take his place on the Committee, having replaced the hon. Gentleman who spoke on Second Reading and then gave up.

It would be quite wrong for me, on behalf of the all-party group, not to take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister on the enormous amount of personal courage he has shown during the years he has worked on the Bill to bring it to its Third Reading.

I and all those who support FRAME believe that this is a non-party-political Bill that represents the true work of all those interested in animal welfare. It is perhaps significant that the animal rights movement has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the alliance that has, hocus pocus, put out animal rights leaflets supporting entirely the mobilisation of its demands, but that none of that work has gone into the genuine animal welfare representation that is in the Bill. By a huge majority the Bill will now get its Third Reading, whatever the opportunist opposition may do. The Bill has taken vast steps for animal welfare and will continue to do so for many years.

10.59 pm
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

I shall be brief open because I did not take part in the Second Reading debate or in the debate on Report. There is a degree of misplaced unanimity in the House. Those who have consistently opposed the abuse of animals in experiments should ask themselves whether the Bill will make much difference or, whether within a few years we shall have to debate the issue again. We may have to debate it again because all the abuses of animals in experiments in respect of cosmetics, tobacco, war and all the other abuses will still be happening. It has been said to me that this Bill regulates everything but bans nothing. That is true, and it is also true that the large number of vested interests which make a great deal of money from the results of animal experiments in a number of fields are prepared to live with the Bill. That indicates that the Bill has serious shortcomings. It does not achieve what many of those who are campaigning for animal rights wish it to achieve.

The Bill is the result of intensive campaigning by animal welfare lobbyists all over the country. The Government have sought to con them into believing that the Bill will meet their legitimate and justified fears about animal abuse in this country. They have not been conned. They are opposed to the Bill and they will continue to oppose it because it does not achieve what they wish it to achieve.

There is also a very large number of people, many of whom have sent letters and petitions and taken part in demonstrations in favour of animal welfare, who will not welcome the Bill because they genuinely believe that it will not achieve what it ought to achieve. They will continue to campaign for animal rights and for another Bill to replace not only the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 but the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

We have been debating the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill, which is inadequate but with which many of the vested interests will be able to live, but future legislation should look seriously at the abuse of farm animals and their treatment and at the food cycle that is the consequence of intensive agriculture and intensive feeding. It should also look seriously at the treatment of wild animals and the need, once and for all, to ban blood sports, the most barbaric of all animal abuses. This issue is very much on the agenda. It is not pushed off it by the Bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that that has nothing to do with the contents of the Bill. He must confine himself to its contents and to its Third Reading.

Mr. Corbyn

I appreciate that I must confine myself to the contents of the Bill, but I am merely pointing out, Mr. Deputy Speaker, its shortcomings.

In his Third Reading speech the Minister said that the hansom cab had been replaced by the Rolls-Royce. Wealthy people aspire to and use the Rolls-Royce. The poor have suffered for a very long time from having to use the hansom cab. I do not believe that the Bill achieves any great improvement in animal welfare.

11.2 pm

Mr. Fry

One of the problems about legislating for animal welfare is that the attitude of the British public is ambivalent towards it. Of course it wants animal experiments to be reduced or even ended but it also wants an end to the many scourges that affect the human race. There is a genuine dilemma. The British public, just like the alliance, does not have legislative responsibility. That is the Government's responsibility, and that is what they have done in this Bill.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State drew the analogy between a hansom cab and a Rolls-Royce. How successful it will be and how far the Rolls-Royce will go depends not only on the driver but on the skill of those who maintain it. I want to enter two caveats about the Bill. Those who support the Bill decided that they would rely upon the advisory committee experts and the inspectors without including in statutory form the need for any other kind of technical advice. I remind my hon. Friend that the advisory committee on animal experiments said in its 1981 report that it believed that there was a strong need for experts to be available as referees when permission for animal experiments was requested. The Bill will have to be taken on trust to a certain extent.

Despite the ability of the inspectors and the eminence of the advisory committee, the range of knowledge which is required is so enormous that that small group of people cannot possess the necessary expertise. The support I have given to my hon. Friend the Minister relies on his assurances that the inspectorate and the advisory committee will seek advice when they need it. The long term success of the Bill depends upon that.

My hon. Friend has taken steps in the Bill to protect dogs and cats. The Minister may remember that I asked what happened to those people who illegally supplied dogs and cats to research establishments. From conversations with Home Office officials I understand that there is nothing to stop someone collecting a stray, looking after it and then selling it to a laboratory. The bill may not be able to deal with that but I am sure that the public are worried about it. It is all very well to penalise the research establishments which take the dogs, but those who sell them should also be punished.

Despite such caveats I wish to congratulate my hon. Friend on piloting the Bill and obtaining such a wide degree of agreement from both sides of the House. That is no mean achievement for any Minister. Some years ago, I tried to pilot a private Member's Bill through the House on this subject. I had the Minister's support and that is why he now has my support.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir D. Smith) that the Minister has displayed an ability to listen and to accept amendments and, when they were not right, to come forward with his own amendments. I think the Bill deserves a Third Reading. The Minister would be the first to admit that the Bill has still to be proved. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) is correct when he says that we do not know how it will develop and it must be closely watched in the future.

It is a step forward. The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) said that there are many good things in the Bill, but why is the hon. Member voting against those good things? Why would he vote to prevent the implementation of those good things? The answer is that for all the hon. Gentleman's fine words he is more interested in votes than animals. I do not think that is true of the bulk of the hon. Members. I have great pleasure in supporting the Third Reading.

Mr. Hancock

When we debated this issue on Second Reading I said that, for the first time in over a hundred years, the House would attempt to improve the lot of animals. On Second Reading and again tonight, the Minister legimately said that people from all sides of the animals welfare campaign had been brought together to try to get that ambition realised and that major step forward was achieved.

Regrettably, on Second Reading and again tonight, more in sorrow than anything else, I find myself unable to believe that the major step forward has taken place. My hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) gave the reasons why those major ambitions, held by many people, have not been realised.

Experiments may still continue to test cosmetics and tobacco—the LD50 test and the Draize eye test. Because of this it is legitimate for any Member of the House to continue to oppose legislation, even at this late stage. Surely we have a legitimate right to oppose something which we do not believe has fulfilled the ambitions that many of us wanted to see realised. I am amazed that so many Conservative Members should refer to speeches made in Committee. Regrettably, I could not serve on that Committee—[Interruption.]—as I was already serving on a Committee that sat on 27 occasions, during which the only speeches made by Conservative Members came from Ministers. We were discussing a major plank of Government policy. Before Conservative Members start quoting remarks made in Committee, they should ensure that their own house is in order. It was arrogant, and it showed a cynical disregard of an hon. Member's right to express a certain viewpoint to deride an hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Mellor


Mr. Hancock

I shall speak for only another 30 seconds.

Mr. Mellor


Mr. Hancock

I give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Mellor

I can appreciate the hon. Gentleman's embarrassment in giving way, but he should understand why he is being derided. He is being derided not for opposing the Bill but for his empty-headed opportunism in merely quoting against the Bill half-mouthed propaganda about alcohol and tobacco without ever putting forward a viable alternative to our proposals. The hon. Gentleman is being derided for the total absence of any coherent thought on the part of the alliance parties. They are merely trying to gain empty populist advantage out of the issue.

Mr. Hancock

The House has gained little from the Minister's attempt to push home his already foul point. On Second Reading I spoke for more than 20 minutes, making many of the points that the alliance wanted to be included in the Bill. However, the Minister chose not to explain why the Government did not support their inclusion.

If the Minister is so sure that the Liberals and the SDP are supported by the majority of people in the country why on earth are the majority of hon. Members disregarding their voice? Perhaps only the alliance party represents the public's view. It is most regrettable that the Opposition spokesman has not pursued our line. Similarly it is amazing that the Minister has failed to respond to the public clamour for more ambition and drive to be associated with the Bill.

We shall vote against the Bill, because the ambitions that many people had for animal welfare rights have not been fulfilled. I wanted the Bill to do more, and I am sure that is the view of my colleagues. I am not in the least embarrassed by my stance, as it is wholly honourable.

11.12 pm
Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

On Second Reading, I spoke at some length, explaining why I could not support the Bill. Since then it has been in Committee, but the changes that I wanted have not been made. As a result, I am still unable to support the Bill.

The Bill still allows animals to be used for experiments connected with warfare. That is the most obscene, unacceptable and obnoxious use of animals. Animals are tortured pitilessly in the interest of discovering how best human beings can kill each other. Last time I spoke, I cited several examples of the pain suffered by animals. However, I shall cite one other, that I did not use then. A document which I shall come to shortly refers to experiments using tear gas and says: The peripheral sensory irritant … was tested on the eyes of conscious rabbits at Porton Down: effects included 'diffuse redness of lids with moderate swelling of the lids', 'swollen tissues encroaching over periphery of cornea'; and in some cases 'gross opacification of the cornea with deformity and/or ulceration'. Not many hon. Members will have experienced tear gas, but we have seen the consequences of it and it does not take much to imagine the suffering that those animals experienced during that experiment.

I am pleased to say this evening that I understand that on Thursday last week the Federal Republic of Germany outlawed animal experiments for warfare purposes. What a great step forward. If only the Minister and his right hon. and hon. Friends could have told us this evening that exactly the same would happen in the United Kingdom. Why is not it happening here? No doubt we shall be told that warfare experiments, particularly chemical experiments, are carried out at Porton Down to learn about defence, when in actual fact they are carried out to learn about offence.

As hon. Members well know, it was recently agreed in the United States that a new generation of chemical weapons should be built and developed, with the consent and agreement of the NATO allies. One would hope that the Government would disagree with those developments but after the events of the past week and the ease with which the President of the United States obtained the consent of the Prime Minister of this nation—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that he must confine himself to the contents of the Bill.

Mr. Boyes

Exactly. That demonstrates that the chance of any opposition is small.

To experiment on animals for the sake of humans who want to go to war is unacceptable. I can do no more than to quote the words of Dr. Robert Sharpe in a document on warfare experiments published by an active organisation called Mobilisation for Laboratory Animals. He wrote: The suffering which human beings inflict upon each other during the course of war is the responsibility of the human species alone, and there can be no justification for the pain inflicted upon other animals to test ways of harming and destroying ourselves. If mankind were to destroy himself, that would be the responsibility of mankind. It has nothing whatever to do with animals.

Let me conclude by paying tribute to the many organisations that have provided much research and good material to enable us to study the consequences of warfare experiments. The number of letters that I have received on that matter show that their efforts are being well rewarded because more and more people are becoming aware of the obscenity of what happens at Porton Down. Recent opinion polls show that eight in 10 people are against the use of animals for warfare experiments and a whole nation in Germany is now against it.

Donald Barnes, a distinguished United States scientist, once said:

The more I look back I see their greatest fear is in people finding out how the animals are treated and thereby initiating steps to correct that. Another organisation has recently been spawned to help in the struggle to inform people about how animals are used for warfare purposes. Peace and Animal Welfare, whose general secretary is Mrs. Kitching, is now informing tens of thousands of people of the obscenity that is being carried out in the name of the British people. Many of us oppose the use of animals for those experiments.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) dwelt on the analogy of the hansom cab and the Rolls-Royce used by the Minister. Rolls-Royce are developed for the rich and powerful, just as the Bill has been designed for the rich and powerful to protect their commercial interests. But more than that, the Bill is in the interests of the crazed pain-inflictors, who operate under the guise of scientists working in the chamber of horrors called Porton Down and any other laboratories in Britain. I shall never support such Bills in the House unless they outlaw the use of animals for warfare experiments.

11.25 pm
Mr. Mark Hughes

I regret the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) from our deliberations tonight. Although he aggravates at times, he has an honesty of purpose and a discreet charm—which occasionally escapes him—and is a delightful person.

My hon. Friend the Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) referred to the use of animals in warfare experiments. He assumed that, in Committee, his hon. Friends let that bit pass by default—

Mr. Boyes


Mr. Hughes

Oh yes, that is what my hon. Friend said to the House. I trust that he has read column 88 of the Official Report of Standing Committee A of 6 March, when hon. Members on both Labour and Conservative Benches extensively discussed the use of animals in warfare experiments, with no unanimity across parties and a distinction across both sides.

On that occasion the Minister said: It would not be in breach of an assurance given in this House, but unlawful if any Home Secretary, while the Bill remains on the statute book, granted a project licence for that purpose. That purpose was the use of animals in weapon experimentation. He continued: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman"— my hon. Friend for East Kilbride (Dr. Miller)—

for providing an opportunity for me to say that. It can never be a permitted purpose, and any Secretary of State who purported to make it so without amending the Bill would be in breach of the law."—[Official Report, Standing Committee A, 6 March 1986; c. 88.] Yet my hon. Friends are now saying that we have failed the House and the country and that by permitting the continuation of the use of animals in warfare experiments are in error as to law. There is no error as to intent because there is no one in this House who would want to continue those experiments without control. My hon. Friends are saying that this Bill, now at its Third Reading stage, fails to protect animals against such experiments. I am saying that those of us who are their Labour colleagues fought and won assurances in Committee on that matter. They may not ultimately accept them, but on a matter of judgment the majority of their colleagues in Committee accepted them.

My hon. Friends are perfectly entitled to vote against Third Reading on a difference of opinion, but let them not for one moment think that we said that we want those experiments to continue. We will not have that. i will not have it said of myself or my hon. Friends that we want to continue those experiments without control. We were assured that no Secretary of State would ever allow that to be a permittd purpose within the context of the Bill. Earlier this evening we debated and, on my request, forced a Division on the question that Crown immunity should be lifted. Without the lifting of that immunity an impetus to fear remains, and I regret that the Government could not accept that argument.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) was present at more Committee meetings than I was. Both of us suffered family bereavements, and I do not blame him for being absent occasionally. In Committee, a finely balanced argument was well rehearsed on the question of a total ban on LD50, Draize, cosmetic and tobacco experiments. Again, an honourable difference of opinion was the result. It therefore does not lie with one party or another in this House to make a political point; it is fraudulent for any party to do so. I hope that, as a newer Member of the House, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor will accept that it does neither him nor his party any good to say that only their members held certain views and voted a particular way. In my 15 years here that is not how animal welfare matters have been dealt with, and they will not be dealt with in that way in future.

Mr. Livsey

I never made that point in my speech.

We have objected to the Bill for objective reasons and said what they are. The hon. Gentleman mentioned LD50, the Draize test and other matters to which we objected. We are not making party political points.

Mr. Hughes

I am grateful to the hon. Member for that, but regrettably many of the interventions of his hon. Friends appeared to imply that anyone who rejected the LD50 or Draize tests was a Liberal supporter. That has never been the position. The hon. Member should not underestimate the sincerity of hon. Members who have found faults with the Bill but who believe that so great is the advance that it makes overall that it is worth accepting a few blemishes. I should prefer to have had the Crown immunity removed and a few other alterations made. I do not believe that banning specific tests and procedures was the right provision. The idea was to give the Secretary of State a power to say that unless a procedure was justified it would not be allowed. That is the core of the Bill, and on that basis I shall wish it a fair wind and vote for the Third reading.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 141, Noes 26.

Division 150] [11.28 pm
Alexander, Richard Garel-Jones, Tristan
Amess, David Goodhart, Sir Philip
Ancram, Michael Gower, Sir Raymond
Ashby, David Gregory, Conal
Aspinwall, Jack Griffiths, Sir Eldon
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Hampson, Dr Keith
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Hargreaves, Kenneth
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Hayes, J.
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Hind, Kenneth
Blackburn, John Holt, Richard
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Bottomley, Peter Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Key, Robert
Brandon-Bravo, Martin King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Bright, Graham Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Brinton, Tim Lang, Ian
Brooke, Hon Peter Latham, Michael
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Buck, Sir Antony Lilley, Peter
Budgen, Nick Lord, Michael
Burt, Alistair Lyell, Nicholas
Butcher, John McCrindle, Robert
Butterfill, John McCurley, Mrs Anna
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Chapman, Sydney McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Chope, Christopher Madel, David
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Major, John
Colvin, Michael Malins, Humfrey
Crouch, David Malone, Gerald
Currie, Mrs Edwina Marlow, Antony
Dover, Den Maude, Hon Francis
Dunn, Robert Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Durant, Tony Mellor, David
Eyre, Sir Reginald Merchant, Piers
Fairbairn, Nicholas Meyer, Sir Anthony
Fallon, Michael Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Fookes, Miss Janet Moate, Roger
Forman, Nigel Moynihan, Hon C.
Freeman, Roger Needham, Richard
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Newton, Tony
Fry, Peter Nicholls, Patrick
Gale, Roger Norris, Steven
Ottaway, Richard Soames, Hon Nicholas
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Speller, Tony
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Spencer, Derek
Pawsey, James Squire, Robin
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Stanbrook, Ivor
Pollock, Alexander Stern, Michael
Portillo, Michael Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Powell, William (Corby) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Powley, John Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Proctor, K. Harvey Sumberg, David
Raffan, Keith Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Rathbone, Tim Thurnham, Peter
Rhodes James, Robert Townend, John (Bridlington)
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Tracey, Richard
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Trippier, David
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Twinn, Dr Ian
Roe, Mrs Marion van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rossi, Sir Hugh Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Sackville, Hon Thomas Viggers, Peter
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Walden, George
Sayeed, Jonathan Waller, Gary
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Watson, John
Silvester, Fred Watts, John
Sims, Roger Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Whitfield, John
Winterton, Mrs Ann
Winterton, Nicholas Tellers for the Ayes:
Wood, Timothy Mr. Michael Neubert and
Yeo, Tim Mr. Peter Lloyd.
Alton, David McWilliam, John
Boyes, Roland Madden, Max
Campbell-Savours, Dale Maynard, Miss Joan
Clay, Robert O'Neill, Martin
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Pike, Peter
Corbyn, Jeremy Robertson, George
Cunliffe, Lawrence Sedgemore, Brian
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Skinner, Dennis
Dixon, Donald Wallace, James
Hancock, Michael Weetch, Ken
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Tellers for the Noes:
Livsey, Richard Mr. Michael Meadowcroft and
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Mr. Geraint Howells.
McKay, Allen (Penistone)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.

Forward to