HL Deb 30 January 1969 vol 298 cc1321-66

5.22 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. This is a very humane Bill and I venture to suggest a very logical Bill. It has the support of all animal welfare societies, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The Bill —and I emphasise this—is not a vivisectionists' measure. The emphasis in this Bill must be on the word "export". The Bill has a simple purpose. It is, to put it shortly, to prohibit the export of animals for vivisectional research to countries where no protection is available as provided by Section 3 of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. Section 3, the relevant section, states that no experiment calculated to give pain shall be performed on a vertibrate animal without complete anæsthesia of the animal during the whole of the experiment or without the animal being killed before recovery after the anæsthetic if it is in pain or seriously injured.

Of course, if other countries had a similar law to that there would be no need for this Bill. But, unfortunately, no other countries—with the exception of Sweden and perhaps Denmark, but Denmark is rather a bad second—have any legislation to compare with that Act. One or two countries have Departmental Committees discussing the subject, but they have made no legislation to ensure that an anæsthetic is used during an experiment on an animal. The extraordinary thing is that we find that America has no federal legislation of this kind at all, which is quite astounding. It is true that certain States have supervision to ensure that animals are well cared for before an experiment, in order that they will be strong and healthy, but there is no legislation to ensure that the animals suffer no pain during the experiment. We therefore see that the vast majority of countries in the world have no legislation to prevent—and I use strong language quite rightly—the most heinous and foul acts of cruelty to animals that we export from this country for research purposes.

It is often asked how extensive this trade is. It is difficult to obtain reliable figures because Her Majesty's Customs and Excise do not differentiate between animals being exported for pedigree purposes or breeding purposes and animals being exported for research. The only figures I have available are for 1966. In 1966, not counting agricultural animals and horses—of course this figure includes pedigree dogs, but not horses, cows, pigs, sheep and so on—the number of animals exported was 50,850. That figure covers dogs, cats, rabbits, rats and mice. The number of dogs exported was about 8,000 in that year. But the trade is growing and we now have several companies in this country that specialise in this trade of breeding animals for laboratory experiments. About the largest such company in the world for breeding laboratory animals is called Carworth Incorporated. This Company trades in England under the name of Nutritional Research Units. The business name is Carworth, Europe. This Company has a certificate of registration which states: breeding of laboratory animals for research organisations mainly for Europe". The document I have in my hand mentions other companies. We have Tuck and Sons of Rayleigh, Essex. They are exporters to all parts of the world. We have Goodchild Brothers, near Crawley, Sussex. Export orders are a speciality.

There is also a very unsavoury line in this trade. Perhaps some of your Lordships read the papers on Tuesday—well, I presume that all your Lordships read the papers—and saw that a dealer was stopped at Euston Station for sending animals to Glasgow University, presumably for experiment by students. This Bill has nothing to do with vivisection in this country, but I thought I should just mention that. The point is than we have these dealers who buy dogs and other animals from members of the public; they assure the public that these animals are going to good homes, but they export them abroad to laboratories. The most favoured dog for export (perhaps I should not call it a dog, but a hound) for vivisectional purposes is the beagle. Your Lordships may well ask why. The beagle is a sweet-natured and docile animal. Dogs such as fox terriers and alsatians are rather inclined to bite their tormentors, but the beagle is a long-suffering animal and therefore eminently suitable for these experiments.

I am trying to be as quick as I can, my Lords, because I know that time is short; but there are some points that I wish to emphasise. I have here a series of photographs that I should hesitate to show to any of your Lordships. The English language is rich in adjectives, but I know of no adjectives that would adequately describe the loathsome photographs in this file. Many of these photographs show British breeds of dogs which have obviously not been given an anæthetic, and the most horrible experiments have been performed on them. How people can so torture animals is beyond my comprehension. The tragic thing is that a great number of these experiments —indeed, I am told the majority—are done by students. They serve no useful purpose but are done merely to gratify the curiosity and the vanity of students and biologists.


My Lords, would the noble Viscount name the countries to which he is referring, where students carry out these experiments, and the countries of origin of the photographs he has in his possession where these British breeds of dogs have been so abominably treated?


My Lords, the majority of the photographs here are of Japan and Russia; but I also have some of Germany (although not all of dogs) and also I have some photographs which originated in one or two other countries.

It is a fact that the transplanting of organs from one animal to another, which is so popular with biologists and students, is usually carried out on a dog. Some horrible experiments are carried out. For instance, the head of one dog is transplanted into the side or the back of another dog, so that the animal has two heads. Of course the dog soon dies. But the experiment serves no useful purpose at all. We also have to remember that a great number of animals are used not for biological experiments but for experiments in connection with cosmetics. I am afraid that they are also used in an increasing number to-day in experiments connected with biological warfare—a subject which I understand we are to debate in this House next week.

The trouble is, my Lords, that biologists, both here and abroad, like to confirm one another's results, and it appears that in doing this they seek to get far more experience of carrying out these experiments than they really need. In my younger days I did some elementary biology, but it has always appeared to me that biologists are generally unbelieving people. They will not accept the results of experiments carried out by their colleagues, but always have to conduct the same experiments themselves in order to obtain confirmation of the results. That seems to be unnecessary and it causes a great deal of suffering to the animals concerned.

Obviously, I am not at all averse to medical research if it is done correctly and is entirely bona fide. However, when scientists are confirming results the chief spheres in which they are seeking confirmation are in cancer and genetics, and in general toxicology. These results are really confirmed, as no doubt we shall hear this afternoon, by experiments on pure strains of rats and mice. It is impossible to have pure strains in dogs and cats because, of course, in domestic dogs and cats the various breeds have been made by man and there are no pure strains. There are pedigree strains, but that is quite a different thing.

If this Bill is given a Second Reading —and I have every hope that it will be—if any biologist wishes to put down an Amendment in connection with the exporting to reputable institutions of pure strains of animals, chiefly rats and mice, for the purposes of confirming one an-other's experiments, that might perhaps be viewed sympathetically, although I am not making any promises. I believe it is a fact that no move to cure cruelty has ever come from the body of scientists themselves, and in my view that is a black mark against them. The moves have always come from outside.

It will not be necessary for me to go through the Bill clause by clause—indeed, there are only six clauses in the Bill. It is a simple Bill, and in a few minor respects it will have to be redrafted. If it receives a Second Reading I shall also have to add an Amendment to ensure that it applies to Northern Ireland and to the Isle of Man.

It may well be said by some of your Lordships that the provisions of the Bill can easily be evaded. Of course it is possible to evade any law until one is caught. It may be said that exporters will only have to export animals as pets or for breeding purposes and the Bill can thus be evaded. But it would look highly suspicious if exporters started sending out of the country large numbers of mongrel dogs for breeding, or if a thousand beagles were sent out for breeding.

My Lords, we in this country have always led the world in social reform and in the humane treatment of animals. We pride ourselves on our exports of pedigree horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, dogs —in fact every form of animal. Are we now to nullify this fine record if, as will probably happen if no legislation is introduced to try to prevent this export, we become the world's largest exporter of laboratory animals? It will also be highly illogical, because, after all, we provide protection for these animals in this country. It is surely quite illogical to breed a species of animals in this country and then to export them to countries where they have no protection at all.

I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the Littlewood Report, which came out in 1965. Perhaps I may quote one or two words from that Report. It said that the role of animal legislation is to prohibit objectionable activities. Surely the export of animals for research where no protection against cruelty exists is objectionable. While on the subject of the Littlewood Report, I would ask the Minister whether he will attempt to do something to get Her Majesty's Government to implement the recommendations of that Report. If we could get that it would be something. It is now four years since we have had this Report, and still nothing has been done.

Before I end, I should like to emphasise that the increase in experiments on animals is absolutely staggering. In this country alone (though I realise that the Bill does not refer to this country), in 1910 there were 95,000 experiments. Today there are almost 5 million. The world demand must run into tens of millions. My Lords, I commend this Bill to the House in an attempt to stop this most degrading export traffic that Britain has ever indulged in from these shores. It is cruelty; you cannot call it anything else. Of course I am not speaking personally to the noble Lords in this House who are scientists and, who, I know, are kindness itself. But it is a fact that scientists, like Communists, are prepared to justify any means to obtain their objectives. They forget the question of morality. History teaches us that the ends rarely justify the means. Vie consider the human race the highest form of life. Let us behave as such. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Massereene and Ferrard.)

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, every one of us abhors cruelty to animals. Every one of us would be willing to act together to prevent it. There are no longer any children in my household, and certainly the animal members in my house find that their interests are dominant and come in front of the interests of the adult human members of the household. I am not saying this is right; I am only mentioning it as a fact. I give place to none in my love of animals and my abhorrence of acts of cruelty to them. I am quite sure that this is a feeling that we all have. But we are not asked to-night to express a view on that. What we have to consider is our responsibility as Members of Parliament and the duty we have before we legislate, first, to be sure that the animals are being cruelly treated; secondly, if we are satisfied that they are being cruelly treated, that this Bill will prevent it, that the Bill is viable and workable; and, thirdly, that the Bill will not destroy something of great value to the health and wellbeing of the whole human race. I think that is a reasonable proposition, and I think it is on that proposition that your Lordships' decision about this Bill should be taken.

Your Lordships heard me interrupt the noble Viscount and ask him about the photographs that he had, and he said that most of them were from Japan. My understanding of the situation in Japan is that there is such a vast surplus of unwanted dogs that they have to pay a high bonus to get them gathered up and slaughtered. I cannot imagine, therefore, the Japanese ever paying the very high price they would have to pay to import a British dog for laboratory or experimental purposes. I do not mention this because I want to lessen the effect of anything the noble Viscount said or in any way impugn his motives, with which I am in full agreement, but please do not let us use this kind of argument which we find will not stand up.

The noble Viscount bases his case for this Bill on the assumption that the laboratory practice overseas is so inhumane as to make the export of British-bred laboratory animals a serious abuse, and he said that no country except Sweden and perhaps Denmark—he was not quite sure about Denmark—has legislation comparable to our 1876 Act. So what he is virtually saying is that we should not export animals or allow the export of animals to any country in the world, except possibly those two. This is making a very serious and very important condemnation of countries which we regard as civilised, and I do not think that any country is wholly civilised unless it looks after animals properly.

In the Government's view, this assumption is not well-founded. I will enlarge on this point in a few minutes, but first perhaps your Lordships may find it helpful if I sketch in the background and give an account of the general problem as we see it, and explain the Government's attitude to the noble Viscount's Bill. Again I am quite sure the noble Viscount did not wish to mislead, but in referring to Clause 1 of his Bill, which mentions Section 3 of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876—and which is important because it says that animals should not be exported to countries unless they have legislation comparable to that Act —he purported to say what Section 3 of the 1876 Act provided. With respect, and no doubt with the very laudable object of not making his speech overlong, he made Section 3 appear very simple. It is extremely complicated—so complicated that it would be difficult to say that other countries have comparable legislation. Section 3 reads as follows: The following restrictions are imposed by this Act with respect to the performance on any living animal of an experiment calculated to give pain; that is to say,

  1. (1) The experiment must be performed with a view to the advancement by new discovery of physiological knowledge or of knowledge which will be useful for saving 1328 or prolonging life or alleviating suffering; and
  2. (2) The experiment must be performed by a person holding such license from one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State …".
  3. (3) The animal must during the whole of the experiment be under the influence of some anæsthetic of sufficient power to prevent the animal feeling pain; and
  4. (4) The animal must, if the pain is likely to continue after the effect of the anæsthetic has ceased, or if any serious injury has been inflicted on the animal, be killed before it recovers from the influence of the anæsthetic which has been administered; and
  5. (5) The experiment shall not be performed as an illustration of lectures in medical schools, hospitals, colleges, or elsewhere; and
  6. (6) The experiment shall not be performed for the purpose of attaining manual skill."
There is a lot more in Section 3, but I think that is enough to show that it is far more complicated than the noble Viscount led us to believe.

The supply of animals for export for use in experiments is quite outside the scope of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, from which I have just read, under which these experiments are controlled in this country, and there is, at present, no restriction on the export of the species of animal commonly used in the laboratory. These are chiefly rats, mice, guinea-pigs and rabbits. The Littlewood Committee, to which the noble Viscount referred, which was set up to review the working of the present control over experiments on living animals, recommended that the supply of animals to British laboratories should be brought under control, but they did not express any views on whether or not breeders of animals in this country should be free to send the animals they produce overseas. I should, therefore, like to make it quite clear that the noble Viscount's Bill does not arise from, or have any bearing on, the recommendations made by the Littlewood Committee.

The noble Viscount said that they reported in 1965 and we have not had any legislation based on their recommendations. This is perfectly true, and in due course the Government will introduce legislation to implement those of the recommendations which have not already been implemented by administrative action. But the Littlewood Committee did not say that this matter was urgent; they did say that the 1876 Act was working well. Therefore, with respect, the other matters which he brought in on this point were not relevant to what we are discussing now.

It is true that specialist breeding of experimental animals is a post-war development largely pioneered by the Laboratory Animals Centre, which was set up by the Medical Research Council in 1947. The argument in favour of specialist breeding is that it produces better quality animals which give more reliable data under experiment and so reduces the numbers required. Increasingly in recent years animals have been bred for the purpose by laboratories themselves or by specialist breeders. Until recently, no one seems to have been particularly worried about the possibility that animals produced in this country might be sent to overseas laboratories. In 1966, however, following reports that a large commercial breeding establishment had been set up with the object of producing a million animals a year for sale to laboratories in the United Kingdom and possibly for export, a campaign was launched by the anti-vivisection societies for the total prohibition of the export of animals for research purposes. The noble Viscount said that his Bill is not a vivisectionist measure. I accept that. There is a very small amount of vivisection, as such, in this field, anyway. But his Bill does refer in its operative clause, Clause 1, to vivisection research, and it gives that impression.

The Government recognised that a problem might exist and we undertook to look into the matter and consult interested bodies about the possibility of introducing safeguards for animals exported for use in experiments overseas. A number of organisations, including animal welfare and anti-vivisection societies, medical, veterinary and scientific bodies, were asked for evidence of inhumane treatment of animals in overseas laboratories and for their views on possible safeguards. Little factual information was given about the treatment of animals in overseas laboratories, but most of the bodies consulted expressed views on safeguards. Several, including the principal antivivisection societies, are opposed to all exports of animals for research. The veterinary organisations favour licensing of exports to those countries where there is satisfactory evidence that conditions are humane—very much what the noble Viscount wants.

On the other hand, the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare think that, in the absence of any international agreement regarding the treatment of laboratory animals, legislative restrictions on the export of British bred animals would only retard progress towards higher standards in those countries where the need is greatest. While the Federation are of the opinion that it is too early to be thinking of an international agreement on laboratory standards as a practical possibility, this, in their view, would be the best long-term solution. They consider that the wider cause of animal welfare would not be advanced by denying developing countries, and those where laboratory techniques are not so advanced as in this country, access to supplies of specially bred animals, and facilities for importing specialised breeding stock to set up their own breeding colonies.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have also made inquiries through scientific attachés in a number of foreign countries about law and practice abroad. Contrary to what the noble Viscount thinks, the information received suggests that while a number of European countires exercise some control over experiments on animals, it would be impossible to set up a standard of comparability with the restrictions imposed by and under the Act of 1876, or to define "assurances" in terms of laboratory practice—I am using the words of the noble Viscount's Bill. It is also clear that the imposition of controls on the export of experimental animals would be resented by many foreign Governments. They are the arguments against.

I now turn to the arguments that have been advanced in favour of the kind of legislation the noble Viscount wants—legislation to control exports of laboratory animals. Basically these seem to rest on the assumption that in all, or most, overseas laboratories animals are liable to be subjected to experiments which cause excessive pain, and to be treated with callous indifference to suffering. There is no evidence in support of this assumption and the noble Viscount has not given any, and by our understanding it is not well founded. Strict control over pain and attention to the animal's general well-being is essential for most animal experimentation to be successful, whether or not this is required by national law. Specialist breeding is expensive, and the cost of importing animals will add appreciably to their price. It is therefore unlikely that overseas laboratories would import animals from the United Kingdom in preference to relying on their own resources unless the particular strain of animal was necessary for the proposed experiment and suitable supplies were not available locally.

No separate statistics are maintained about laboratory animals exported from the United Kingdom as distinct from animals generally. Laboratory animals going abroad would be included under the Customs classification: Live animals (including zoo animals and dogs and cats) but excluding those of a kind mainly used for human food. I think the noble Viscount said it did not include horses. In any case, this covers a fairly wide variety of animals and purposes, but the total number of animals exported annually within this classification is relatively small. The noble Viscount mentioned millions and millions of experiments. In 1965 the total exports of all kinds of quadrupeds amounted to 40,520, valued at about £340,000, but in 1968 this had risen to double the number, 81,224 animals worth almost £590,000, I have already mentioned that the species of animals most commonly used in the laboratory are rodents and rabbits, and bearing this in mind the inference from these figures would seem to be that laboratory animals comprised only a very small proportion of the totals, because the total number is not large considering it is all the live animals which are exported from this country.

My Lords, the Government are always conscious of the need to afford animals proper protection against ill-treatment and misuse, but it does not appear to us that the export of a small number of specially bred laboratory animals presents a serious problem demanding a remedy of the sort proposed by the noble Viscount. First, on scientific grounds it is essential to adopt strict standards of care and attention of laboratory animals if the results of the experiments are to be reliable. Second, animals imported from Great Britain would be considerably more expensive than locally reared animals, and on economic grounds would not be used except in serious research projects. Third, the volume of these exports is very small and shows no signs of increasing significantly.

Apart from these considerations, which cast serious doubt on the need for imposing controls, the Government are convinced that restrictions such as are proposed in the Bill would do a considerable disservice, both to the progress of medical science and to the world-wide cause of animal welfare, Scientific interests, including the Medical Research Council, a very responsible body, though not fanatics, are opposed to the proposals in the Bill.

Some of your Lordships may remember a correspondence in The Times on this subject early in 1967, when a similar Bill to this was proposed in another place. May I quote extracts from two letters published in The Times in 1967. First, there was one from Mr. John Bleby Director, Medical Research Council, Laboratory Animals Centre, in which he says: However, it is far more important to realise that the Bill will seriously impede biological research because it will stop the export of breeding nuclei of specialised strains of animals vital to research in cancer, genetics toxicology and, equally important, the diseases of animals themselves. Furthermore the Bill would not prevent the export of laboratory animals under the guise of pets. While not condoning at any time the inhumane treatment of any animal, it is perhaps worth mentioning that we benefit from discoveries made abroad. Insulin, which keeps diabetics alive, was discovered by two Canadian workers, and the thalidomide tragedy would not have occurred had the drug been tested on more animal species. The second extract I want to quote comes from Professor Sir Alexander Haddow, Director, Chester Beatty Research Institute, who said: I do not for a moment doubt or question the good intention of such efforts, but I write to explain how such a measure would have disastrous effects on the course of cancer research. Cancer is a phenomenon which manifests itself throughout the whole of the animal kingdom, and much knowledge, obtainable in no other way, has been derived from observation of the disease in species other than man—predominantly in the mouse and rat. For such purposes as studies of cancer causation or experimental forms of treatment, it is frequently necessary to furnish universities and institutes in other countries with special animals' strains. In this way our own country has been able to assist cancer research all over the world. In the other direction we have of course ourselves gained much through the gift of valuable strains (as for example of mice highly susceptible or highly resistant to cancer and leukaemia) from other centres abroad—very notably and simply to quote one example, from many laboratories in the United States. Similar considerations apply to other branches of medicine, and it is difficult to over-estimate the benefits to medical science generally and also, may I stress, to veterinary science itself, from such international exchange. This country's contribution to these benefits could, by the measure proposed, be brought to an end. Progress in medical and biological research is coming increasingly to depend on international collaboration and the continuing exchange between research workers in different countries of special strains of animal. For example, animals carrying lines of tumours play a vital part in cancer research, while inbred strains carrying particular inheritable characteristics are required for genetic studies and for the investigation of certain conditions, such as deafness. This is a two-way traffic and our research workers could not expect to continue to receive new strains from their colleagues abroad if they were denied the facility for reciprocating by sending them specimens of particular species developed in this country.

Of equal significance is the fact that controls of the type envisaged in the Bill would discriminate against the less advanced countries where the need for progress towards higher standards is the greatest. To deny them the facility of obtaining healthy purpose-bred laboratory animals can only result in greater numbers of animals being used and more overall suffering. My Lords, we should not approach the subject of animal welfare on a parochial basis; our aim should be to do what we can to eliminate unnecessary suffering wherever it occurs and whatever the animal's country of origin. This Bill would do absolutely nothing to that end. As with many matters affecting the welfare of animals, the issues here are complex. As I have tried to show, the Government have given much thought to this matter and I can assure your Lordships that we will continue to watch the position carefully. But, against the background of uncertainty about the ultimate effects of imposing restrictions on the free interchange of laboratory animals, I must make it plain that the Government are opposed to the principle behind the Bill.

I will not detain the House by rehearsing all the Government's objections to the detailed provisions, the technicalities, and the reasons why we consider it unworkable and not viable, but I will say that in our view the provisions would be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to enforce and would leave many loopholes for evasion. In particular, the "comparability" formula in Clause 1 would lead to great difficulty. In the event of a prosecution, evidence would have to be given by an expert in the law of the foreign country concerned as to what the relevant law was, so that the court could decide whether that law provided "comparable" protection. In practice, the provisions of Clause 1 would probably result in a demand for a system of Government licensing based on a Government assessment of the standards of overseas legislation. Such an assessment would be resented by the foreign Governments, and it is difficult to imagine the Secretary of State accepting the responsibility of criticising a foreign Government. The absence of any definition in the Bill of "vivisectional research" leaves doubt about what exports would be prohibited. By implication "vivisectional" involves cutting or surgery, but almost 90 per cent. of the experimental work on animals in Great Britain is non-surgical, and this is probably the case elsewhere. Also, would the movement of animals to set up breeding colonies as well as for immediate experiments come within the control?

The truth is that, short of unacceptable measures of control of all animal exports, there can be no real assurance of securing the objective of the restriction which the Bill seeks to impose, for once an animal has left this country it is impossible to exercise any control over its ultimate destination. The noble Vicount wants a shipmaster to have a certificate and be responsible, on pain of three months' imprisonment and a fine, for seeing that no animal goes abroad for laboratory research to most of the countries of the world. Supposing a shipmaster has a consignment of 100 guinea-pigs and the bill of lading says that they are for a pet shop. What kind of control is that? None at all. It cannot stop the animals being used for research. These things just would not work. Anyone minded to evade the control imposed by this Bill could do so with no difficulty at all, but at the same time it would make the exchange of laboratory animals between genuine research workers extremely difficult. The Government take the view that export controls should be resorted to only when they are likely to be effective to remedy serious abuse. I submit that the noble Viscount did not make out his case. Therefore, although I fully respect and support his motives and objectives, I have to invite the House to decline to give the Bill a Second Reading.


My Lords, I said in my speech that if this Bill were to get a Second Reading we might consider in Committee the fact that pure strains could be interchanged between scientists in reputable institutions. I cannot understand why institutes abroad will not use anæsthetics. It is just the expense which governs the matter, and it is quite incredible that this should be so.

6.12 p.m.


My Lords, I am sorry to disappoint my noble friend Lord Massereene, but I fear that on this matter I am in considerable sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. Like him, I fear that this Bill is unworkable, since we have no control over what is done abroad and we cannot legislate for other countries.

I am sure that my noble friend's motives in introducing this Bill are impeccable, and I should be the first to appreciate his endeavours to put a stop to all forms of cruelty to animals. As my noble friend said, this country leads the world in its efforts to protect animals, and although there may be more to be done here in this country, I would agree that in some countries the same standards are not applied. When I say that more could he done even here to keep our own house in order, I mean that the Government might perhaps look again, as my noble friend suggested, at the Report of the Littlewood Committee, which was appointed by my noble friend Lord Brooke, and consider trying to implement some of its recommendations with a view to improved supervision of conditions in which animals are housed in this country and a possible tightening up of the present rules.

If the Government were to introduce legislation to implement this Report, I would certainly give it my support in principle. I am interested to see that my noble friend Lord Fortescue has a Question on this subject next week. We have never had a debate on the Littlewood Report and I think that we should certainly have one. I think that the most important thing is to keep our own house in order first. As a member of the Council of the London Zoo and a staunch supporter of the World Wildlife Fund, I yield to none in a determination to do everything possible for the welfare of animals all over the globe. It is only after very careful thought, therefore, that I feel unable to support my noble friend in so far as this particular Bill is concerned.

My own view—and this coincides very much with the view of the scientific attaches who were mentioned—is that most foreign research establishments which are the recipients of these animals are just as responsible and humane as are our own in this country. I have visited a certain number, both here and abroad. I have seen goats which have been exposed to varying degrees of radioactivity in atomic piles. I have seen rats, mice and even beagles, all living under hygienic conditions. I cannot believe that their lot is worse than that of many human beings in the world to-day—in Vietnam or in Biafra, for example. Because of their value and because research workers abroad are, by and large, not inhuman monsters, I am certain that these animals are not wantonly abused or tortured.

It is true that I have not visited such establishments in Japan, but whatever the conditions are there. I do not see how we can alter them by legislation in this country. We can talk about them and we can protest, but we cannot legislate and do not see what is to stop animals from being exported to another country and then re-exported to Japan. At the same time, dogs could be exported direct to stockists in Japan. In either case, we have no control over their ultimate destination—"fate" perhaps is too emotive a word. But with the tens of thousands of wild dogs roaming Japan—I believe that 80,000 are destroyed annually—I cannot believe that, with so many dogs available, the Japanese would consider importing them at considerable cost. I do not believe that we export any considerable number of dogs there. The cost of these animals—shall we call it "the price of mice" or "the price of dogs"—is what importers and research workers are bound to consider.

Perhaps the odd animal, which has been subject to some natural or induced tumour, may occasionally he sent to some well-known research establishment, but I would say that this was done under very carefully controlled conditions, under responsible and humane scientists in both countries. I am convinced that animals in such places live much more happily than starving cattle on the plains of India, or indeed than many caged or circus animals or some domestic pets owned by people in this country who, despite all our laws, mismanage, abandon, confine or ill-treat them. If this Bill were to become law, I think it would impose upon international science a limitation which would be to its detriment—and science must be international or all humanity will suffer. We must keep a sense of proportion both in the amount of research involving animals and in the emotion which we apply to sacrificing some for the benefit of many.

What is really involved is the degree of suffering. Personally, I find it abhorrent to think of monkeys being shipped to this country in crates so small that many die en route, whether their destinations be laboratories, zoos or even street vendors in Oxford Street. It is also distressing to think of ageing horses being shipped to Continental slaughterhouses under conditions parallel to those existing in slave ships only 200 years ago. Then there is the tragedy of the pets abandoned to roam the streets, scavenging for their existence. And what of conditions under which animals are bred for human consumption—battery hens and force-fed geese, to say nothing of the slaughter of calves for veal? And yet, unless we are to become a nation of vegetarians, as perhaps the late Bernard Shaw would have advised us to be, we have to accept that the animal kingdom may have to suffer as man does, too.

The horror some of us feel in rationalising this question seems to gravitate around this curious word "vivisection". On this subject I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, from the Cross Benches will be able to enlighten us. I believe the word to mean surgery and, if I am correct in this, then it is only thanks to such surgery that many human beings, and indeed many animals, are alive to-day. If even human beings are willing to expose their bodies to experimental surgery without a full anæsthetic, as I myself did during the last war, I cannot believe it wrong to use animals for this purpose, too.

Had this Bill the object of leafing with the maltreatment of animals of all species at home, or even during transportation from one country to another —and particularly where we can exercise some control—I should have no hesitation in giving it full support. But as it concerns solely the export of animals for research, and since I consider that the degree of cruelty involved here and abroad is less than in many other circumstances involving animals, I am reluctant to advise noble friends on this side of the House to give the Bill a second Reading. But as it is a Private Member's Bill, if it comes to a vote we are, of course, completely free to go into whichever Lobby we wish.

The Bill has been raised twice under the 10-minute Rule in another place but time has never been given to it for a Second Reading, and I honestly do not think that we ought to take up the time of your Lordships' House in Committee, or the time of another place by sending it back to them. As I say, I think it is unworkable and I support the Government in this. But I do at the same time hope that the noble Lord, Lord Stcnham, will give an assurance that the Government will look again at the implementation of the Littlewood Report. At all events, subject to anything being said later in this debate which might bring me to change my views, I would not vote for this Bill to be given a Second Reading.

6.21 p.m.


My Lords, I feel that I should take part in this debate since, as an experimental pathologist, I have held a Home Office licence for many years—in fact, for 38 years. In so doing I should like to emphasise, and possibly to amplify, some of the points that have already been made by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough.

The outstanding advance in my own field of bacteriology has of course been in the development of antibiotics. The use of animals to test the thousands of antibiotic substances that have been turned out by biochemists, in order to eliminate those most likely to be toxic for man and to select those with the greatest protective effect against various bacterial infections, has been essential in this, the greatest advance in medicine of our age. In general, the results obtained in this field have proved to be remarkably applicable to man. But this is not a debate on the ethics and value of animal experimentation as such. We are concerned only with the prohibition of the export of animals for experimental purposes to laboratories in countries which do not have legislation comparable to our own controlling experiments on animals.

In considering the Bill before us we start off, as has already been stressed, with a difficulty. What is meant by "comparable"? It is a word over which the lawyers could argue for years. But without attempting to define such a woolly phrase I would say that, according to my information, there are possibly four countries that might come into this category: Denmark, France, Sweden and Western Germany—and even these might not prove acceptable. In practice, therefore, the Bill before us is aimed at a virtual ban on all export of animals for experimental purposes. In any case, as has already been pointed out, the purposes of the sponsors of this Bill, misconceived as I believe they are, could be circumvented by the unscrupulous. Dogs and cats could be exported as pets, and rabbits as "live food". So that only the conscientious would be penalised.

In this connection, I feel that the number of dogs and cats exported has been grossly exaggerated. As has already been said, no experimenter will use a large animal if a small one will meet the purpose, if only on the ground of cost alone. According to my information, it has been estimated that about 100 cats and about 1,200 dogs are exported each year for research.


My Lords, the total number of dogs exported is about 8,000, as the noble Viscount said. But, overwhelmingly, they are pedigree dogs and have nothing whatever to do with research.


I fully realise that, my Lords. I tried to get some information as to the number being used for research. This is the figure which I have been given, though I am not sure how much reliance to place on it. Many of these cats and dogs are required for research into diseases affecting the same animal species. For example, almost the only satisfactory vaccine against enteritis affecting cats has been developed abroad from breeding stock imported from Britain. The effects of the promotion of the Bill, therefore, are partly directed against animal health itself.

This brings me to a point that cannot be stressed too strongly; namely, the importance of animal welfare as a factor in animal experimentation. Every experimenter knows the importance of looking after his animals well, and keeping them in as good a condition as possible, if reliable results are to be obtained. Quite apart from the humane aspect, months of patient investigation can be thrown away if he does not do so. I have known the heartbreak when, as sometimes happens, even in a laboratory maintaining the highest possible standards, infection breaks out in the animal quarters necessitating the scrapping not only of one's own experiments but of those of many of one's colleagues, and starting them all over again. This results in the very thing that the experimenter is most anxious to avoid—the unnecessary use of animals. Fortunately, with the development of the so-called "pathogen-free" stocks of animals in this country that we are in a position to export, this is not nearly so likely to happen. I should have thought that even those who are against experiments on animals in principle would prefer, if animals have to be used in research, that they should be as healthy as possible; and British-bred animals are recognised to be the best in the world.

Workers in medical laboratories in the developing countries—with which I personally am particularly concerned—with their less well-organised services, must be encouraged to play their part in the world-wide effort to conquer disease, and they come to realise the importance of animal welfare when they receive stocks of well-produced animals. Nothing is more likely to encourage them to improve their own standards than this, and nothing will be more conducive to their continuing with poor standards if they are prevented from doing so.

But it is laboratories already practising the highest standards, even though these are not controlled by law, that would be the most seriously affected if this Bill were passed. What would, in fact, be the effects of this? One must assume that it is not possible to differentiate between animals to be used for breeding purposes, whose progeny will be used for experimentation, and those which would themselves be used. It would, of course, be impossible to be sure that they would be used only for breeding, even if it were logical to lay this down as a condition for export. If this is so the result of this Bill, if passed, must be to prohibit the export of breeding stocks of strains of animals—be they mice, rats, guinea pigs or rabbits (and these are by far the most commonly used)—including some with certain genetic characteristics that make them invaluable in many fields of medical research.

It must be remembered also that the traffic is two-way; and not only should we deprive workers in other countries of an invaluable means of developing their research, but the prohibition of export would hardly encourage them to help us in the same way. Advances in medical research would be slowed down all round if this country no longer contributed in this way. But in giving a few examples as to the benefits that have been derived from the international exchange of experimental animals, I want to emphasise some of the contributions which this country has been able to make through the present policy, though this represents only a small part of the total benefit. I do so although it is apparently only the export of animals from this country that the Bill is intended to prohibit.

My Lords, some months ago we had some anxious debates on the subjest of foot-and-mouth disease, when we had that disastrous outbreak. One of the points at issue was the merit of a slaughter policy versus a policy of vaccination. Whatever may be the correct policy for this country, there is no doubt that vaccination provides the only possible means of combating this scourge in many countries where it has obtained a permanent foothold. In this connection, workers at Pirbright developed a strain of mouse, the P. strain, which is very sensitive to the virus and provides a very uniform test animal which has been exported to many countries for the standardisation of foot-and-mouth virus vaccines. Presumably the supporters of this Bill would prefer that other countries had not been given this invaluable help in fighting a major scourge, with its disastrous effect on world food supplies.

I turn now to a major scourge of mankind—cancer. In considering the effect in this field of passing the present Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has already quoted the letter to The Times from Sir Alexander Haddow, Director of the Chester Beatty Institute for Cancer Research. Not only may it be necessary to export strains of animals susceptible to cancer, as was emphasised in this letter, but it may also be necessary to export animals—mice, for example—bearing transplants of a cancer, as this may be the only way that a cancer may be transported, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, pointed out. For these purposes, during last year alone the Chester Beatty Cancer Research Institute sent rats or mice to 13 different countries, nearly all in Europe, only three of which would have been exempted from the provisions of this present Bill under the most liberal interpretations. My Lords, the cures that we all long to see for the various forms of cancer will come in time, but such proposals as are contained in this Bill can only delay that day.

In no field is the use of well-produced animals—in particular, guinea pigs—more necessary than for diagnosis and research in tuberculosis, which is a major scourge in many developing countries. Certain strains of mice are also particularly valuable for this research. It is inconceivable that we should put ourselves into a position where we are no longer able to supply these animals, if and when required, to laboratories for which, in some of these countries, we have a special responsibility, Again, as has been pointed out scientists working for pharmaceutical firms may have occasion to send animals to laboratories in other countries in order to clear up any discrepancies that may arise in the testing of drugs. In testing for the toxicity of drugs it is essential to use as sensitive a strain as possible. Certain strains of rabbits, for example, are particularly sensitive to the effects of thalidomide on the fœtus. The prohibition of the free interchange of different animal strains might even contribute indirectly to another such disaster in the future.

My Lords, I hope I have said enough for your Lordships to realise what would be some of the consequences of the Bill if it were ever to become law. It is a Bill to which the British Veterinary Association—that body whose prime concern is animal welfare—are utterly opposed. They believe that it is completely unworkable, would achieve nothing at all to improve animal welfare, and is most undesirable in that it would restrict development in scientific and medical research. I personally fully understand the feelings of compassion that motivate the sponsors of this Bill and all who are opposed to research involving experiments on animals. After many years as an animal experimenter I have not lost one whit of such feelings myself. But in relation to the greater good, and knowing at closer hand than most the benefits that human and, indeed, animal health have derived from such work, I cannot but feel that in the context of the present Bill they are utterly misguided, and I sincerely hope that your Lordships will reject the Bill on Second Reading.

6.33 p.m.


My Lords, in only a couple of sentences, your Lordships will be pleased to hear, I should like warmly to support my noble friend and the Bill he has laid before the House. Here I should like to apologise to the Minister and to my noble friend for the fact that I shall be unable to remain until the end of the debate. To me, the whole business of vivisection and animal experimentation is so utterly bestial and abominable that the very least we can do is to carry out the purport of my noble friend's Bill—I think it probably requires a little redrafting—and in that way to safeguard our own animals from being sent abroad to heaven knows what horrors they find there. I have often wondered whether the human race is really worthy of the suffering and sacrifice which millions of wretched animals have to undergo in order to prolong the lives of the human species. I for one, my Lords, long for the day when popular opinion will at last revolt aginst these obscenities and call for an end to such utter barbarism. Meanwhile, I strongly support the Second Reading of this Bill.

6.35 p.m.


My Lords, like others who have spoken I must pay a tribute to the good heart of the noble Viscount in putting forward this measure for consideration. But a Legislature must be more than goodhearted: it must be strongheaded as well—and that is why I cannot support this Bill. My interest in this stems from being President of the Reseach Defence Society, a rather typical British body which, like the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, maintains an emotionally neutral dialogue between the scientist and the Legislature in order to ensure that Parliament and the Government have access to accurate sources of scientific fact.

From this, the legislative point of view, I must say that I consider the Bill unwise. In the first place, it recites the Act of 1876, to which it makes cross-reference both in the Short Title and in its first clause. Into this recitation it imports a term which is not used in the Act of 1876, the word "vivisection", which is generally speaking undefined but has a very strong emotional context. Its use is criticised adversely in the Littlewood Report, whose recommendations I hope we shall debate later on. They write on page 2: At an early stage we concluded that 'vivisection' was no longer an accurate description of animal experiments as a whole and we have tried to avoid the use of it in this report". My Lords, with that recommendation in the Littlewood Report it seems to me a great pity that the word "vivisection", which violates their recommendation, was imported into the Title and the main operative clause of this Bill, especially as it creates confusion in the construction of the Act of 1876, which has in fact never been before the courts.

Vivisection, if it means anything, means "cutting up alive", irrespective of context. I could be vivisected; the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, tells us he has been vivisected; any one of your Lordships who has had his appendix out has been vivisected—irrespective of context. But context is what matters. In the case of an animal, is it anæsthetised, either locally or totally, during the course of the operation? Is it allowed to recover consciousness after the effects of the operation have worn off, or is its life terminated while still under the influence of the anæsthetic? The word "vivsection" by itself avoids all reference to these matters, which are the all-important ones, and further confuses the issue by presupposing that the knife is a unique source of pain. My Lords, is there none of your Lordships who has suffered at some time or another from toothache, earache, headache, stomachache, backache, cramp and so on? These can be agonising, but they are not caused by an incision in the skin. They are of chemical origin; and one can inflict the utmost torture on an animal by the appropriate chemical treatment without being guilty of vivisection at all, although one is conducting a cruel experiment on an animal—and this is what the Act of 1876 deals with.

In this context, I cannot understand the noble Viscount's attribution of reluctance to foreign institutes with regard to the use of an anæsthetic. Ether, the commonly used substance for anæsthetising mice and rats, is not expensive; and I have never seen in foreign laboratories an experiment conducted on a rat or a mouse without a pad of cotton wool and a dropping bottle of ether over the mask of the mouse. And does anybody imagine that, on a large animal like a dog, a cruel experiment, involving struggling and twitching on the part of the dog, even if it is only involuntary twitching, could be conducted—a delicate experiment—without the animal being anæsthetised? It would be completely "botched" under these conditions.


May I interrupt the noble Earl? Of course there are drugs with which you can immobilise animals so that they cannot struggle or move, but they are still conscious.


If the noble Viscount would consult a catalogue and look at the price of ether and the price of the curaromimetic drugs or muscle-paralysants, he will very rapidly learn that economic interests will bias the individual away from curare-like drugs in favour of simple drugs like ether.

I commend to your Lordships the structure of the 1876 Act. It is a good Act; it is well-drafted. The fact that after 92 years it has never been necessary to take it to court to find out what it means is a point in its favour. It is based upon a simple and total prohibition in Clause 2 of any experiment on a living animal calculated to cause pain to the animal. The effect of this simple provision, "except as provided by the Act", is that everything which is not expressly allowed is generally prohibited. So Section 2 of the Act creates a general situation. And then we come to Section 3 which is resited in the noble Viscount's Bill. Section 3 is in two parts. In the first part six conditions are laid down under which relief may be given from the general prohibition of Section 2 by licence from the Home Office. The second part of Section 3 grants relief from the first part by certificates which may be supplied by presidents of learned societies, and so on. And then there are one or two special sections. Section 4 declares that curare is not an anæsthetic. Section 5 gives special status to dogs, cats, horses, asses, goats and mules—no; not goats. Why "Mary's little lamb" was not added I do not know, but it stops at that point. I should like to see other animals added, such as cetaceans who can develop a special relationship to man. Section 6 prohibits experiments in public. The rest of the Act is entirely concerned with its administration by the Home Office and its enforcement by the Judicature.

I think that it is a good Act. It lays down principles and leaves the Home Secretary to interpret them. Those of us who operate under it can in any case of doubt consult with the Home Office and learn exactly where we stand. The noble Viscount's Bill regrettably departs entirely from that wise philosophy. We are "reasonably to know" where protection in other countries is "comparable" to that in this country. I am not a lawyer. I do not know how far through his operative clause the words "reasonably to know" extend; whether they extend only as far as an act of vivisection is concerned or whether they extend to the word "comparable" with regard to other people's legislation, but I must assume that "reasonably to know" extends throughout the clause. We have had this point dealt with in such detail by the noble Lord. Lord Stonham, for the Government and the noble Earl, Lord Bess-borough, for the Opposition that I do not intend to go into it further. We ought to note, however, that the whole Act would be inoperative but for implementation by the Home Office.

But, my Lords, what about countries where the counterpart of the Home Office does not need an enabling Act because it already possesses, through the constitution of its country, sufficiently authoritarian powers to act on its own? How is the animal exporter in this country "reasonably to know" what the constitutional position now is in Czechoslovakia, one of the countries to which the Chester Beatty Institute has recently exported rats and mice? If one were to do anything on these lines, if one were to contemplate it, then it ought to be for the Home Secretary to schedule to which countries one might export animals and to which one might not. But I am sure that every Home Secretary would want to duck that responsibility and would get into trouble with his colleague at the Foreign Office if he accepted it.

If we leave aside the question of vivisection and concentrate on the husbandry and protection of experimental animals of all kinds under all conditions of experiment we shall begin to talk sense about this subject and we shall avoid the kind of anomaly, the absurdity, that occurred last year, when the general secretary of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection found himself in court pleading guilty to nine offences in relation to dogs, due to lack of exercise space, bedding material and food hygiene. I do not wish to pursue the argumentum ad hominem in a case of this kind; I merely bring it forward as a case of absurdity. If you over-concentrate on one aspect of this subject you neglect other aspects. You may even find yourself in court as a defendant, although you would be protesting your love of animals to the last. Compassion unguided by knowledge is just as much a danger to animals as a thirst for knowledge untempered by compassion. We must treat this subject as a whole.

I think a good approach to it derives from an element of self interest which entails the animal experimenter looking after his animals properly. The noble Lord, Lord Stamp, has given us the experimenter's reasons. Consider the economic reasons. Animal experiments, as he has told us, are expensive. A small, short-lived animal like a mouse is cheap for two reasons. First of all, its body weight is low so that it does not consume very much food at a time; secondly, it reaches maturity in a matter of a few weeks so that you do not have to keep it for very long before it is mature. For precisely cognate reasons, a dog costs £25 where a mouse costs two shillings. Who in his senses—and scientists are not bulging with money—is going to do an experiment on a £25 dog if a two shilling mouse would serve? That is why the overwhelming proportion of the millions of experiments done are carried out on rodents, mice, rats, hampsters and rabbits—roughly in that order, from two shillings for the mouse to £2 for the rabbit. And, again, no one would use a rabbit if he could use a mouse. That is why we work on rodents: because they breed fast and they are cheap.

What happens in the case of economics of export? Japan has been much mentioned. I very much regret that Japan was ever brought into this; but since it has been brought into it let us look at the details. As the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has said and as the noble Earl has said, in Japan there is a large number of scavenging dogs. The figure of 80,000 quoted by the noble Earl I believe to be correct, but it applies only to the city of Tokyo; to the best of my knowledge and belief it is not the figure for the whole of Japan.

Now just how to do this most humanely, how to dispose of these 80,000 dogs, is a problem for the Japan Animal Welfare Society—and there is such a society. The traditional way of disposing of them, giving them injections of strychnine, is certainly the worst; but it is also certain and quick. It probably involves the most agonising death to the dogs that one could imagine; but that is going on with dogs.

But who in Japan is going to pay £25 f.o.b. for a British dog (which is going to cost £50 by the time it is in Japan) when a dog can be had for the asking? That is why, basically, the Experimental Animal Breeders Association decided to ban the export of dogs to Japan—because, in fact, no dogs were going to Japan except very rarely for special purposes; and those purposes would not involve experimental surgery. There are long-term nutritional experiments which must be done. Long before one supposes one needs the dog one has already convinced oneself that a certain food additive is, in fact, harmless; but it must be confirmed on the dog—in America, by law, on two different animal species one of which must be a dog. This means maintaining the dog during the greater part of its life cycle on a diet which one has good reason to suppose is harmless and then, towards the end of its life cycle, killing it and making a postmortem on all its organs to make sure that the drug or food stuff, or whatever it was, was harmless.

British beagles may be required for these purposes. But, again, I must submit to the noble Viscount that the docility of the beagle does not make it popular because it does not bite the experimenter; it is popular because it does not bite other dogs. Beagles are pack animals accustomed to living in packs. They can be kennelled in packs and exercised in packs to keep them in good health relatively cheaply. And British beagles are popular because they are rabies-free. The reason these special dogs are exported is not to cut them up for surgery purposes but to do these long-term experiments on nutrition, on carcinogenicity and so on. But what can the British exporter know about all this?

At the Institute of Cancer Research, of which I am Chairman, which is a post-graduate school of London University, we raise a little short of 100,000 rodents annually. The figure is usually between 80,000 and 90,000 a year. Let us look at our exports last year. In 1968 we dispatched to other countries 46 rats, 24 mice and 5 litters of young mice. We did not, in fact, last year export any pregnant females. The greater part of these exports was to provide breeding nuclei and some were to provide samples of transplantable tumours. These went to Denmark, Belfast, Rome, Brno, Heidelberg, Budapest, University College Galway, France, Australia, New York, Iran, Warsaw, Milan, Copenhagen, University College Dublin, and places in Czechoslovakia, on a simple professor-to-professor exchange of help, a simple professor-to-professor exchange pf experimental animals. To the best of my knowledge and belief these animals and their progeny will have been put to the same purposes by Sloan-Kettering in America as they would be put to in the Chester Beatty Institute in London. But, again, how can the exporter know this reasonably? What does "reasonably" mean there?

Imagine the labour for scientists of verifying all this when a friend rings up on the telephone and says, "My leukæmic mice have mutated; can you send me a breeding nucleus to re-raise the strain?" or something of that kind. It is done like that over the telephone. Even if exceptions were written into the noble Viscount's Bill on Committee stage—which I hope we shall not have—all the nuisance of having to do all this paper work would undoubtedly have an inhibiting effect on the exchange.

My Lords, I am not arguing that the economics of the process biases us away from animals that do matter to animals that do not because they are small and cheap. All animals matter. We have an equal moral responsibility to avoid pain in any of them so far as we can. What it does do is to show that the process biases itself away from animals with whom we are emotionally involved—dogs and cats—to animals with which we are not emotionally involved—rodents, which are the ones that matter. Therefore the shape of our legislation should be determined by our more rational feelings towards rodents and not by our more irrational feelings towards cats and dogs.

My Lords, I will not go on any longer. The time is late, and I have said what I wanted to say. I am sorry that I cannot support the noble Viscount's Bill. Like him, I am an animal lover. The problem of good and evil is beyond me, and I am not going to try to solve it in your Lordships' House this evening.

6.52 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, I am in some difficulty. I should like to support the noble Viscount's Bill; but, like him, owing to the lateness of the hour I shall have to apologise in advance to the noble Viscount and to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, if I am unable to remain until the end of the debate. I am also in some difficulty in taking your Lordships' time in the circumstances, but I feel that I have certain qualifications in this connection in that, like everybody else, I am a dog lover; that I spent much of my boyhood in the care of an eminent professor of physiology and throughout that time was on the fringe of laboratory experiments. We children in the country had to observe, feed and record the regimen of puppies who were in the course of use in the experimentation over rickets. This was before the days of vitamins, and the professor was able to establish a connection between sunshine and rickets. From his findings the Corporation of Glasgow, in their slum clearance operations, built a number of buildings with flat roofs so that children could play in the sunshine. The victory over rickets was in sight.

My Lords, I have spent some years, later, not so very long ago, as chairman of a pharmaceutical company with a biological laboratory in which, by the very virtue of the two facts which I have disclosed to your Lordships, I took a close personal interest. This leads me to make one or two remarks on what has taken place in this debate so far. One is that it is clear—and even the Little-wood Report makes it clear—that what the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said, is the case; that the Act of 1876 has worked well; and the Littlewood Report does not suggest any major alteration in it. I think it is the greatest possible pity that this Report has not been debated in your Lordships' House or implemented by legislation before now. But, at the same time, my experience leads me to endorse what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Stamp, about the absolute necessity of ensuring that animals for experimentation are in proper health and maintained in the best possible conditions. I feel it right to pay a tribute to the manner in which the provisions of that Act of 1876 are administered by the Home Office, and the excellence of the expertise and the efficiency with which the inspectors ensure that work is properly carried out, compassionately and humanely.

The other point I should like to make is that I was sorry that the noble Viscount talked, I thought, rather disparagingly of the increase in the number of experiments on animals since, say, 1910. Of course the number has increased, for two reasons: not only, as was pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Stamp, because of advances in medical science which have taken place, even in the last ten or twenty years, but also because of the fact that every time a rabbit is put on a diet, every time its ear is pricked and a drop of blood taken for an analysis, that is an experiment and is classified as such. And these figures go to swell the millions which are pointed to with some derision by the vivisection lobby.

Nevertheless, my Lords, I would say, with all due respect, that I was not greatly impressed by what the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, said when he described the iniquities and cruelties carried out in this country in allowing animals to run loose in the streets and turning out cats and so on. That is not what we are discussing here. We are discussing the exportation of animals to places where we do not know whether they are going to be properly treated. If we take the Bill within those four corners —and they are not very far apart—I am deeply impressed by what has been said in the debate hitherto. If nothing else comes from the debate, at least it has given an airing to the subject. If the Bill is unworkable, at least we have had these matters exposed and debated. If the Bill is capable of amendment, so that scientists such as those mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, can get their leukæmic mice by telephone without too much delay; or, similarly, if there were any simple way of ensuring that these animals required for scientific experimentation—and nothing I say is intended to suggest that any brake should be put on the use of animals for experimentation in the pursuit of curative medicine, not only as the noble Lord, Lord Stamp, pointed out for men but for animals themselves—if that could be absolutely assured, and the economic side could be simply and effectively controlled, I believe that the Bill would have something in it. If it cannot, it has not.

I feel that it would be wrong not to emphasise the disappointment which I certainly feel that the Littlewood Report has not been implemented by legislation, and also to make clear beyond a peradventure our feelings, as a nation of animal lovers—and I admit to being one myself. I am passionately fond of dogs, and indeed of any animals. Convinced as I am that experimentation is part of our life; convinced as I am that those involved in it here are eminently compassionate and ordinarily tender beyond belief, I feel that it is fair, not only because they are so inclined, that we should see to it that our animals, of which we are so proud, if they are exported are exported under proper conditions and are not liable to be subjected to the callousness with which some of our neighbours (I do not worry about Japan for reasons which have already been stated) are quite capable of treating animals. I look forward to seeing the result of this debate and only apologise again for the fact that I may not be able to stay for the end of it.

7.0 p.m.


My Lords, I do not suppose that there is a single noble Lord in this House or anywhere else who would not like to see experiments on animals completely abolished. Obviously we cannot do that, but we have to keep them within bounds, if we can. I have learned a lot this evening about reciprocity and about the necessity for swapping animals of certain strains with other countries, and clearly that practice must go on.

There is one point, however, which I should like to bring out. Is there no possibility of having a more minute check on exports of animals? When anyone applies for an export licence, more particularly of cats and clogs and again more particularly if they come from one of these breeding establishments, cannot we find out for what purpose they are going to be used at the other end? I do not believe for a moment that foreigners are worse animal masters than we are. We have nothing to be proud of in this connection, and we have very little to be proud of in not having implemented a good deal of the Littlewood Report already.

I have wholehearted sympathy with the spirit of the Bill. When I first read it, I saw that it was very vulnerable. In particular, I should like to see the word "vivisection" altered to "animal experiment" throughout the Bill. I should like to see something done about this problem, and clearly it cannot be done by a prohibition but only by a greater scrutiny of applications for licences for export or import.

7.2 p.m.


My Lords, I should like first of all to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, for the way in which he has introduced this Bill in your Lordships' House, for the laudable object of the Bill is both to regulate and promote humane standards of animal experimentation and to end a practice which is both cruel and shameful.

I should like to put the record straight so far as the views of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare is concerned. I must apologise to your Lordships for reading a Press release—there are only three paragraphs—but I think it is necessary because the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, gave a rather different interpretation of their view. This Press release was issued on Monday, November 14, 1966, when this Bill was first introduced in another place. It said: The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, which has striven for over forty years to ameliorate the conditions of laboratory animals, is pressing for the registration and Home Office inspection of breeding units in this country and the control of exports by a system of licensing. Export licences could be withheld in respect of any country where there was evidence of unsatisfactory treatment. A spokesman said today, There is no prospect at present of stopping animal experimentation here or elsewhere. All that can be done is to regulate it and put an end to inhuman standards.' If supplies of healthy animals for breeding purposes are denied to overseas countries, stray and unfit animals will doubtless be used and kept under the deplorable conditions of neglect which were once widespread here. It is true that in some countries anæsthesia is more associated with the convenience of the scientist rather than the comfort of the animal. Nevertheless, there are scientists in most countries, who, by example and influence, are improving the laboratory animal welfare. A complete ban on exports would discourage these enlightened workers who seek to improve techniques and reduce the total number of animals used. A complete ban is not what is intended. What is intended is a system of licensing and control, and I most strongly maintain that this is a laudable and practical object and it is essentially the spirit of the Bill now before your Lordships' House. It is a spirit which ought to diffuse from this country to other countries concerned in animal experimentation, and if we give a lead in this direction I am sure that scientists all over the world who are anxious about animal welfare, of whom we have heard amply from the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, will follow suit.

The second object of my intervention in this debate is to give some indication of conditions in Japan, and I make no apology for indicating these. The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, has already referred to the Japan Animal Welfare Society, and although he said that there is what amounts to a ban at the present moment. it is some indication of the conditions in developing countries and we should be careful where we send these animals.

The authorities in Tokyo have to catch and dispose of a large number of stray dogs every year. The figure of approximately 80,000 has been given. My information is approximately the same, and this is reflected in all the major towns and cities in Japan. Without any legal protection, vast numbers of stray dogs naturally form a ready source of supply for vivisection, particularly in Japan's State universities where the living conditions of animals are probably among the worst in the world.

The Japan Animal Welfare Society carried out a survey in 26 universities during 1966/67, which indicated a complete lack of interest on the part of the Japanese Government in maintaining those laboratories which were under their direct control in a condition conducive to useful medical research. All noble Lords who have spoken have tried to assure us that conditions in laboratories where experiments are being undertaken are satisfactory, and I have little doubt that this is so in a large number of cases. The whole object of the Bill is to strike off the list those others where conditions are unsatisfactory. The fact that only one university in Japan, that of Kobe, could be considered to attain even the lowest minimum international standard, if such exists, for animal husbandry, indicates that other State universities within the same budgetary system could improve their conditions if they wished to do so. A grand total of some 20,935 dogs were used for experiments during 1966/67, the largest single user being Tokyo University Hospital, where no fewer than 4,753 dogs were used in this manner.

We want to consider the reports of the approximate numbers in this country, and we see in the admirable Littlewood Report that the total number of dogs used for experiments in the whole of this country amount to approximately 10,000, almost half that for the 26 university laboratories in Japan. It would appear, from my limited knowledge, that there is a vast proportion of wastage in senseless and cruel experiments carried out in Japan and certainly from all the information available both to the noble Viscount who has promoted this Bill and to societies in this country, the photographic information is without question.

Finally, I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, two specific questions. First, do the Home Office intend to implement the recommendations of the Littlewood Committee; and, secondly, has any progress been made towards producing a code of practice for licensees, as suggested in paragraph 350 of their Report?

7.10 p.m.


My Lords, so much has been said already that I can say little without repetition. But I should like to state my opinion on this Bill from the point of view of one who has a responsibility in the matter of supply and use of animals for research purposes, and whose approach is essentially sympathetic. On reading the Bill for the first time, and on a superficial consideration, it seems desirable, in that it seeks to prevent the exploitation of animals for research. Indeed, your Lordships will agree that no person with proper feeling towards animals could disagree with a measure that seeks to protect them. I must comment, however that much of the debate has been on the whole matter of animal experimentation, which is largely irrelevant to this Bill. When one examines the full implications of the Bill, and considers in what way it would protect exported animals, the situation is revealed to be quite different from that given on first impression. Indeed, the Bill is in great part meaningless and unenforceable. The primary postulate that attracts our sympathy is unattainable by it, and several disagreeable results could follow it.

The idea seems to exist that domestic animals, especially cats and dogs, are exported to be sold for laboratory research, and are cruelly treated, especially in certain countries that have a bad reputation for the way they treat animals. It would in most cases be ridiculous to export these animals to be sold for research purposes, because they would be much more expensive than the local product. The noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, specifically mentioned Japan. I find it almost ludicrous to suggest that it is economic to transport cats or dogs half way round the world to Japan to be used for research: and this point was emphasised by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury. If they were obtained in this way for genuine scientific research their intrinsic value would ensure that proper care was taken of them. A carefully conducted scientific investigation involving the use of animals, especially larger animals, can be very expensive, as has been emphasised by several speakers, and no one would be so foolish as to misuse or abuse the essential animals. This is, in fact, a built-in control. I am very familiar with the practice in many foreign laboratories, and I know the standard of care and treatment that they give. Surgeons treat the animals as they would humans; and they would be stupid if they did anything else if they want to get satisfactory results from their work.

Moreover, attempts to control the exploitation of animals for research could be insulting and offensive to many countries. It could be very offensive to accept that foreign scientists are possessed of a more cruel nature and are less considerate or sensible than British researchers.

My Lords, in addition to the weakness in the primary postulate, it is desirable to avoid interference with proper scientific activity. Certain animals and special strains of animals are exported and imported, as has been already pointed out by several noble Lords, for special reasons. If we were to limit, or stop, the export of animals for thoroughly commendable and legitimate research as this Bill seeks to do, other countries would introduce similar restrictive legislation, and our scientists could be the losers by being barried from receiving this special material.

Your Lordships should know that there are many facets to the Bill which make its efficient application in practice almost impossible, and certainly very difficult. It is not for me to embark on a detailed consideration of these defects; that is a matter for the lawyers. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has shown the ways in which it is really a meaningless and unenforceable piece of legislation. Those of us who are worried about the care of animals sent overseas should consider whether legislation within the United Kingdom is the bestremedy. The better way to check and control any abuse would be by international agreements. This Bill would stop all the export for sale of highly and specially bred animals of all types for any purpose. This would not only be unnecessary and unwise, but could also stop the import to this country of many animals, such as primates, which are unobtainable here and are virtually indispensable. It is for these reasons, my Lords, that I think this Bill, at first sight so simple and so commendable, is, when looked at closely and critically, misleading, ineffective and even troublesome, and one that should not be supported.

7.15 p.m.


My Lords, I sympathise deeply with the motive behind this Bill, and I should like to be able to feel that I could support it. But I am afraid that I cannot do so. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, in his speech cast a shadow on the question of its viability and practicability, and I entirely agree with him. I do not think it would be enforceable. The point that one has to consider on the export of animals is that once they are beyond our shores they are beyond our control. It is no use saying that we must not send them for the purposes of research, because they may well be imported nominally as pets and then be used for research. Who can be there to control the position?

If the animals are sent to one country, such as Japan (Japan has been mentioned, and I shall have something to say about that in a few moments), then, clearly, if that country cannot get them direct from us it may well get them through France, Germany or some other country. It is absolutely impossible for us to say what is going to happen to animals once they have left our shores. That is one reason why I have often wanted to see it possible to ban the export of food animals—because slaughter systems on the Continent are very primitive in comparison with ours, and a carcase trade, I should have thought, would be every bit as economic. However, I will not go into that now, because it has nothing to do with the Bill we are considering.

I agree, of course, that vivisection must be much more fully controlled, though I have never been a wholehearted anti-vivisectionist. I dislike the suffering of animals, but I dislike the sufferings of human beings even more. If experiments on animals will make it possible to reduce human suffering, then I cannot feel that they are unjustified. I agree with my noble friend Lord Bessborough when he says that there is to much waste, and I think that often there are something like 400 experiments where perhaps half a dozen would be sufficient. That sort of thing could be tightened up; and the inspection and enforcement of anæsthetics and similar protective methods could be more strictly carried out. To look at the Bill, Clause 2 says: Where any person ships any animal abroad, by sea or by air, he shall at the time of shipment deliver a certificate in writing affirming that the animal is not being shipped for any purpose which includes the use of the animal for vivisectional research …". My Lords, how is he to know? He knows only what the person who has ordered the animal has said it is for. He does not know what the purpose is in fact; it is quite impossible for him to do so.

Certain things were said about Japan and certain doubts were cast on whether there really was a very large export of animals to Japan. I should like to read a letter that was sent to the Secretary of the Captive Animals' Protection Society from the manager of the R.S.P.C.A. Airport Hostel for Animals at London Airport. He says: Thank you for your letter in which you show your concern for the puppies being exported from this country to Japan. I am only able to give you the number of puppies which we handled at the hostel. Last month 496 were deposited with us prior to their collection by the Air company for export to Tokyo. Since last July "— this letter is dated January 8— we have been averaging 300 a month. Large numbers are sent from Manchester Airport to Tokyo every week but they do not tranship at this Airport. The puppies sent to Tokyo are all bitches and are initially sold to Japanese families as pets". That is rather interesting, my Lords. Here is another example. They are sold nominally as pets. An observer who has been in Japan has said that very few Japanese, very few indeed, keep dogs as pets. A pet dog is quite a rare sight. These dogs, therefore, are all going there for some other purpose; and I do not think there can be any doubt that that purpose is animal experiment. Therefore, the traffic is not so small as has been made out by one or two noble Lords to-night. But, again, I do not think that we can do anything about that. We cannot just single out one country or another and say that we do not like their methods.

What I should like to see is a total ban on exports of animals for any purpose whatsoever. But, on the other hand, I quite realise that that is entirely unworkable. It would not be in our economic interests, and for the moment we are not likely to see it. I believe, however, that the introduction of a Bill that is not enforceable is a great mistake because it tends more and more to bring our law into contempt. Therefore, while I sympathise very deeply with the motive of my noble friend in introducing this Bill, I sincerely hope that your Lordships will not give it a Second Reading.

7.24 p.m.


My Lords, women are perhaps suspect as being overemotional where animals are concerned. However, I promise your Lordships that I will do my best to be brief and factual on the subject. My main point in joining in this debate is to support my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard on his appeal for immediate Government action to redress and control some of the terrible loopholes which exist in the 1876 Act.

Does it not strike your Lordships as illogical that, although the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 states that no animal may be used for experiments without first being anæsthetised, yet there are people in this country who are breeding and exporting animals for vivisectional purposes to countries where no such law exists? Surely, for a country which prides itself on being humane, this poses an unrealistic situation. According to the R.S.P.C.A., in 1876, the year this Act were passed, there were 300 experiments on animals a year, supervised by two inspectors. To-day there are nearly 4 million experiments, and only six inspectors. Let us be realistic and move with the times.


My Lords, may I say that the noble Lady is not correct. We have increased the number of inspectors to substantially more than six.


I referred to R.S.P.C.A. inspectors.


My Lords, I refer to inspectors implementing the provisions of the 1876 Act.

7.26 p.m.


My Lords, in view of what has already been said, I hope that I can be fairly brief. I have some qualifications to speak on this subject because I am on the Advisory Committee of the Home Office, which was set up in 1913 to supervise the working of the 1876 Act. Although the Littlewood Report, quite rightly in my view, suggested setting up an Advisory Committee of a rather different kind to whom references would be made more often than they are to the present Committee, nevertheless we learn something about this matter by being members of the existing Committee. I have also been on the Medical Research Council, and I have myself held an animal licence for many years and know what absolutely first-class work these inspectors do. They really are splendid. I should like to assure the noble Lady, Lady Sempill, about this.

If one holds a licence and people in one's own department are conducting animal experiments, an inspector will come round quite unexpectedly. He will never announce his intention to be present. One can sometimes get to know about it because he called on your neighbour the day before yesterday; but it does not affect our practice in any way if we know that he is coming. He is always a nice person and can be extremely helpful to us in suggesting ways in which our care of animals can be improved and this kind of thing. These inspectors are really doing splendid work.

I should also like to come back to the question of the enormous increase in the number of experiments. As one of the speakers in this debate (I cannot at the moment remember who it was) has said, a very large number of these experiments are not what any one of us would call an experiment at all. They involve the pricking of an animal to get some blood, or the injection of, very often, quite innocuous substances in order to test the strength or the potency of remedies, vaccines and such things. An enormous number of such experiments are now demanded by the safeguards which have, quite properly, been put on the use of vaccines and drugs and remedies of all kinds. So these experiments have to be done, and of course they swell the numbers immensely. In addition, as other speakers have said, medical science has progressed a great deal and there has of course been much more real animal experimentation in recent years than there was, certainly, at the time the 1876 Act was passed.

I have myself always disliked animal experiments, but I have always recognised that they are absolutely essential for the progress of medicine, and I have always rejoiced that this country leads the world in its regulation for the care of experimental animals. Nevertheless, I have visited a number of countries abroad and seen scientists carrying out their animal work, and—perhaps because I have chosen to visit the best institutions—I have never seen any of the cruelties which people seem to think exist. Maybe they do exist, but I have not personally come into contact with them, and I think the high standards of British workers and the enormous interchange of information and practice about the world nowadays has improved conditions abroad. Long may that continue!

All I can say now on the main subject of this Bill is how strongly I support the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and the noble Lords, Lord Stonham, Lord Stamp, Lord Ferrier and Lord Brock, who have put the case so well against the Second Reading of the Bill. Were it not for their excellent statements of the case I should now be making the same points myself, but it is no longer necessary for me to do so. In a few words, I believe the Bill to be unwise and unworkable and, I hope, largely unnecessary, for the very kind of foreign scientist who will go to the trouble to buy from this country specially-bred animals on which to carry out his work is just the kind of scientist who will use those animals properly, in a properly equipped laboratory. Therefore I hope Your Lordships will not vote in favour of a Second Reading of this Bill.

7.33 p.m.


My Lords, we have had an interesting debate and I have made a few notes of matters that I should like to deal with, but as I know your Lordships are anxious to go to dinner I will not detain you for more than four or five minutes. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, rather took me to task for quoting part of Section 3 of the Cruelty to Animals Act in the first clause of this Bill, saying that if countries abroad want to have animals for research purposes they should have comparable legislation. If this Bill received a Second Reading I should seek to have a great deal of it redrafted, and I should have that part redrafted to accord with the meaning of the part of the section of the Cruelty to Animals Act that I read. I quite agree that the whole section would probably not be practicable, but it would be perfectly easy for the Home Secretary to ascertain which countries used anæsthetics when carrying out experiments and also killed the animal if it would otherwise live on in great pain or if it were injured.

One or two noble Lords are rather condemned out of their own mouths. For instance, the noble Lord, Lord Stamp, said "Ah, yes, but this country produces the best animals in the world for laboratory experiments and there does not appear to be any danger of any cruelty to them when they are sent abroad". However he admitted that we do produce the best animals for laboratory experiments, and if that is the case it is obvious that our export trade in these animals will grow.

I should like to revert for a moment to the remarks made by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury. He led us to believe that this country does not export any dogs to Japan. My noble friend Lord Somers has just told us that to his knowledge we export 3,600 dogs a year. He has no direct evidence that they go for experimental purposes, but as anyone who has been in Japan will tell you, hardly any Japanese has a dog as a pet. They prefer to eat their dogs, as do the Chinese.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Viscount, but in fact I wanted to take up this point with the noble Lord, Lord Somers; and as the noble Viscount is making use of it I will do so now. I believe people who have been to Japan say also that English pedigree dogs are becoming fashionable as pets among the Japanese.


My Lords, that is probably true in the case of extremely expensive pedigree dogs, but if we are exporting 300 dogs a month they cannot all be of a high pedigree. That is just not practicable.

I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Sandys, who raised a good point. He said it was true enough that if this Bill became law it could be evaded; but, as I said when I moved the Second Reading, it is possible to evade almost any law if one is prepared to do so. At any rate it would put this country "in the clear" from the prestige point of view if we had a law to prevent the export of animals for laboratory purposes, apart from pure strains of rats and mice for experiments in connection with cancer, genetics and toxicology.

One noble Lord (I am afraid I cannot remember who it was) horrified me when he said that he would stop the export of all animals. Of course, that would be quite absurd because it would stop the export of all our pedigree bulls and sheep and thoroughbred horses. I have frequently exported animals—not for laboratory experiments (God forbid!) but for higher purposes than that. The noble Lord, Lord Brock, made a remark which I was unable to understand. He said that if this Bill became law it would prevent the import of certain animals, and he referred particularly to apes. I cannot understand how he worked that out, because the Bill has nothing whatsoever to do with imports.


My Lords, may I intervene to explain that what I said was that it would provoke legislation in other countries, because if we were to forbid the export of certain animals from this country they would take countermeasures.


My Lords, I very much doubt that, because other countries are not concerned with animal welfare to the same extent as we are, and provided we paid enough for the animals I can assure the noble Lord that we should get plenty of them.

I do not want to prolong this debate. I am sure we have all learned a lot, but it has become obvious that the scientists have tremendous influence and a powerful lobby. As they have this strong influence I would ask them to use it with their colleagues abroad to put pressure on their respective Governments to bring in legislation as soon as they can in order to give animals some protection during experiments. A number of noble Lords have said that the animals are well cared for. Of course they are: people do not want to experiment on a diseased and starving animal. But the point that is worrying me is the care of the animals during the experiments, and that has not been sufficiently considered.

I often wonder what are the aims of the scientists. The population of the world is doubling itself every 25 years, and they are trying to increase it, but I am quite sure that in the end nature will have the last laugh. But I will not continue the discussion as the majority of the House appears to be against me. We have had an interesting debate, and I also hope that as a result of it the Government may take steps to implement the recommendations of the Littlewood Report.

On Question, Motion for Second Reading negatived.

House adjourned at nineteen minutes before eight o'clock.