HL Deb 27 June 1975 vol 361 cc1714-63

11.29 a.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. This is a short Bill of two clauses and I will not insult your Lordships' intelligence by spelling out exactly which clause is the kernel of the Bill. I must say straight away that I have not enjoyed the kind of research in which I have had to indulge to produce the facts and figures for the Bill. But as we recently had a debate initiated by my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby, his splendid opening speech then has relieved me from harrassing your Lordships with some of the descriptions of the tests on animals reported from very reputable sources of information.

Our attitude to animals in this country has always confused me in that it seems totally contradictory. On the one hand, we see the overfed and under-exercised pets who are allowed to defile our streets and make them unpleasant to walk on and we teach our children to love the soft bunny rabbit, and then we select certain animals for use in some rather undignified experiment. As the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, said during our debate on the abuses of the Cruelty to Animals Act on 14th May (col. 721): You name it, … and some animals will have been made to eat it, have injected, put into their eyes, or they have been shaved of hair or fur so that substances may be tried out on their skins. Because the noble Lord at that time gave us so many details about testing, it is not necessary for me to repeat them today. Bat I would remind your Lordships—I studied the report of the debate very carefully—that nobody at any stage challenged the accuracy of the noble Lord's statements.

Your Lordships will be very familiar with this Act which I am seeking to amend and so I will merely remind your Lordships that the Act says that it is not permissible to perform on a living animal … an experiment calculated to give pain unless the experiment is performed with a view to the advance by new discovery of physiological knowledge or knowledge which will be useful … for saving or prolonging life or alleviating suffering … As your Lordships will know, licences are granted under certain categories, and since certificate A covers drugs, poisons, serum and vaccines, I can see quite clearly that if at this time anyone were to attempt dramatically to change the principal Act, they would run into the counter-attack that this was going to make it impossible for life to be saved or prolonged or the pain of man to be alleviated. Therefore I have been careful not to refer to "non-medical experiments". This Bill clearly states "cosmetic" and it goes on to define what is meant by "cosmetic".

The Research Defence Society in their letter setting out objections to the Bill—a copy was sent to me by courtesy of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and I believe it appeared in The Times yesterday—referred to the National Poison Information Service, which is part of the National Health Service. It states that in their first year they received about 2,000 calls for help and advice. This figure had risen to 20,000 by 1974, and of that figure about 800 referred to cosmetics. There is one point which is slightly confusing to me and that is that they say that two-thirds of the queries related to children. I am not sure whether this means children in relation to cosmetics, or children in relation to other substances.

No one—certainly not I—would dispute the value of this kind of information service, but I should like to know a little more about how the knowledge of antidotes is obtained. For instance, if a child actually gets a bubble bath substance into its eyes, presumably the antidote would be to wash out the eyes or clean them in some way. Could this knowledge not have been obtained by analysis of the bubble bath rather than by rubbing it into the eyes of an animal? Again, if a child eats lipstick, surely there are only two ways in which you can deal with what someone has eaten: either it comes out one way, or goes out the other. What contribution to that sort of knowledge requires the testing of an animal over a period of days with a particular substance, except to establish the rather unnecessary fact that if a living creature takes into its system enough of any substance it will certainly die?

Previous debates on this subject in your Lordships' House, as well as the discussion on the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Willis, seem to show that the reasons advanced for these tests on living animals fall into two main groups. The first is that it is mandatory to test. I have searched through the Medicines Act 1968 and, so far as I can see, it refers throughout to medicinal products. I looked at the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, which refers to pesticides, insecticides and weed-killers. So I have been unable to find reference to compulsory testing for cosmetics.

The second point which is often made—a much more emotive one, my Lords, and one which I suspect will be used today—is that testing must take place to protect the customer. This is always a very strong argument, particularly if we are to be told that children must be protected against a shampoo causing permanent damage to their eyes. In reply to that, I would question whether anyone could ever devise a test which would completely prevent the misuse of a product. In the end, the final test is that given to the product when it is applied, in this connection, to my skin, or, in the case of shampoo, to my hair. I am sure that many lady Members of this House will have heard hairdressers asking careful questions of a customer who has apparently used hair colouring. They ask the customer what brand it was and when it was applied, and so on. If they were so reassured that testing could obviate all difficulties, there would be no need to question customers in this way. Most women have at some time used a soap, bath oil or cream which is not quite right for them. I recently used a beautiful bubble bath substance which was made by a very expensive firm. Unfortunately, it caused a scaliness to appear on my legs and after two applications I ceased to use it. So there is always an answer to a test which, as a person, one is constantly applying.

The history of allergy is a very interesting and largely "hit or miss" business in that, as my doctor son-in-law once explained to me, there are about 1,000 possibilities of allergy, including flowers, animals, dusts of all kinds, rubber, synthetic materials and so on. There is validity in the claims made by certain firms, and I shall quote their names. One of them is Yardley, and their letter says: I am sure you will be delighted to know that we do not have any animal testing in our factory. All the ingredients are those that have been in use for a long time and there is no need for testing of any kind. Again, I have a letter from Boots which says: The basic materials from which cosmetics are made have been available for a great number of years and one can say that, having thus stood the test of time, they can be considered safe. That surely is the ultimate test that we should all like to have.

When I see the advertisement of "Beer tried and tested ", I must confess I assume it has been tested by a man and not by an animal. Am I entitled to ask what attempts are being made by this very honourable Society to which I referred earlier to find alternative means of testing? Indeed, do we really need—perhaps this is the worst heresy of all to mention—so many new products? I recognise that I am treading on very dangerous ground because against me are possibly the doctors on the one hand and the scientists on the other—and perhaps the Government as well. But every reformer throughout history has been told, (a) that he does not understand the subject, or (b) that he is a crank or a fanatic, although why persistence in a belief in an idea is a reason for insult, I cannot understand. If I am to be called a crank or a fanatic in a good cause, I can tell your Lordships that I do not regard this as an insult. Human beings have a curious ability to rationalise their behaviour. I am quite unconvinced that the fox likes being hunted, and I should have been equally unconvinced that the "chimney boys" liked being pushed up chimneys. With St. Francis of Assisi, I believe that all living creatures have a dignity, and man should be certain that the uses to which he puts an animal is absolutely essential for his survival.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Baroness Phillips.)

11.40 a.m.


My Lords, may I begin my brief address to your Lordships' House on this subject by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, for introducing this emotive but important subject in restrained terms, and instantly waving aside any intention of suggesting that she either does not understand the subject or is a crank or a fanatic. If those appendages are to be attached to her they will be attached by others of your Lordships' House. Also by way of preamble and apology, I must ask for your Lordships' indulgence, since I am due to take part in all three pieces of legislation going through the House today, if I am absent during part of this debate. Otherwise, I have no reservations.

My Lords, no other nation enjoys such a widespread reputation for kindness to animals as does our country. Your Lordships' interest in this Bill on a fine Friday, to some extent, bears this out. We have reputations also, however, on the one hand for careful legislation and on the other, for a certain unpractical sentimentality in our concern for animals which sometimes acts at the expense of humanity without doing much good to the animals themselves. The noble Baroness referred to one of the anomalies in this realm. I am put in mind of those who say: Don't leave Rover at home when we go shopping ", and one sees the excitement of Rover's ride in the car with his ears streaming in the wind as he sniffs the air out of the window. Then an hour and a half later, after the car has been parked for an hour and a quarter in the parking lot, one sees Rover subjected to something only a little short of torture—in the full noonday sun, in a little tin oven with no windows open. And one wonders how kind it is to keep, for instance, a songbird in a cage 2 ft. square in full sight of the sky and moving clouds, no matter what the quality of the birdseed and cuttlefish bones that one puts through the bars from the side of liberty into the side of captivity.

The answer to this question is of course in part that we must not consider animals as if they were small and oddly shaped and sometimes feathered human beings. For human beings solitary confinement in a cage is solitary confinement in a cage, and remains so even if a mirror is hung up on the wall in which he can see himself. For a human being a reflection is not company; but for a budgerigar it appears it is. It follows therefore that the lesser brain is susceptible to other pressures, and is perhaps more easily protected from some that would be infinitely damaging to human beings. I say this at the outset by way of preface since it shows in a small way that animals perceive their environment differently from us and the environment reacts upon them in a manner different from that in which it reacts upon us.

Pain is one of those reactions and it is next to impossible to measure the intensity of pain in any human being other than oneself. How very much more definitely impossible is it to measure it in animals. One can I think say that as the life span of an animal is shorter than that of a human being, so the span of the passage of time in which the animal is acutely perceptive, whether pleasurably or painfully, whether hunting or hunted, must seem proportionately greater as well. The animal's intensity of perception, therefore, is to that extent and in those terms perhaps greater than in human beings. With this limited understanding of the nature of pain in animals, we have then the welfare of these animals given to us in trust.

Let us not forget that we have also the welfare of human beings in trust. And this is where the difficulties begin. If I might briefly touch on the difficult areas encompassed by this Bill, they are as follows. There is first the difficulty, which the noble Baroness has sought to overcome in the wording of her Bill, of deciding exactly what a cosmetic is. I feel that there are borderline cases, inevitably, within the definition she has placed in the Bill. If a soap is sold as a beauty soap it is a cosmetic, and presumably if it is sold as a medicated soap it is a medical preparation. What about the medicated beauty soap? What about anti-dandruff shampoos? Is curing dandruff, which normally is not in any way dangerous or even undignified but perhaps socially embarrassing, a cosmetic or a medical operation? So the first difficulty (and I do not want to delay your Lordships because many of you wish to discuss this Bill now and we presumably have a Committee stage ahead of us) is the difficulty of definition.

The next difficulty, which the noble Baroness touched on, is what are the properties of a cosmetic when it is misused by accident? I suggest there is a third outcome to the minor accident which she presented to your Lordships—the unlikely event of a small child (and these events, though unlikely, are con- stantly happening) eating a large quantity of lipstick. It can, she said, either come up or go through in the normal manner; I think that that is how she expressed it. What concerns me is that the lipstick might be allowed to be digested in the normal manner by parents who think that it is totally harmless because they bought it as a cosmetic sold under the pharmaceutical regulations which this Bill impinges upon, and they may not know that shortly or long after the digestive process had been completed the signs of damage will begin to be seen. I shall refer shortly to a parallel and frightening instance, but I do not want to anticipate what I have to say. I think we wish to know that, if baby sees mother's complexion milk and confuses it with ordinary dairy milk and drinks it, baby is not going to be seriously at risk. If we are not sure of that then of course cosmetics as well as medicines must be kept on that already overcrowded shelf out of baby's reach—and it is extraordinary how high babies can climb.

I take the noble Baroness's point that there are long-established firms with a tradition of producing harmless and even beneficial cosmetic preparations which are convinced that nothing they sell can possibly be harmful. I am sure that, if they continue to use the present ingredients, that will continue to be the case. But are Messrs. Boots and Messrs. Yardley's (since the noble Baroness mentions them) committed irretrievably to a policy of never expanding the range of their products, never using new ingredients? And what about other firms? Are they to produce only preparations that are constantly in use? I am informed that there is a constant difficulty in the cosmetic industry in the selection of colourants. Substances put into cosmetics in order to change and improve tone, reflectivity or colour, are constantly being brought on to their specialised market and their effects on the users cannot be known until some tests are carried out.

If your Lordships feel so strongly that these tests should not be carried out on animals—I am thinking more of tests for involuntary ingestion than the application of creams and unguents—I wonder whether your Lordships feel strongly enough to drink the stuff yourselves, because the principal alternative to the guinea-pig is a human being. Noble Lords are human beings and this would be a demonstration of the strength of their convictions. I would further say that of course until there is harmonisation internationally among all countries in the world which produce these preparations, we shall simply be saying to importers and sellers of cosmetics: "If you sell something which is produced in the United Kingdom (and not by a subsidiary of a company abroad, which so many companies are), you are buying something which may not be safe, and selling something which may not be safe. You are selling something for the selling of which you may be at risk in law. Whereas, if you buy it from the United States of America, or any other country with a statutory system of testing of cosmetics, then you are buying something which is safe and you will not be prosecuted." This is an aspect of the Bill at which the noble Baroness should look closely.

I do not want to expand at great length. Your Lordships should consider also the fact that cosmetic preparations are used for a great length of time. I am not very familiar with these matters, but I have the impression that noble Baronesses tend to fix fairly early in life on a favoured product and continue to apply it to the human body or any part thereof which they feel will be benefited by it. Therefore, the argument that because something has been on the market for two or three years it must be safe does not hold good. Here may I refer to the case I talked about earlier—to the substance known as hexachlorophane, which was developed in the United States and subsequently used world-wide. This is not a perfect analogy, because it was developed as a clinical aid. It was developed as a bactericide for surgical scrubbing. Therefore, the users came under the protection of legislation in the United States and elsewhere, which meant that these things had to be tested. I understand it was so effective that it was incorporated in other preparations, and among them was a baby care preparation which was used in France. Owing to a mistake in the factory, the very small proportion—I think it amounted to 3 per cent.—of the hexachlorophane which should have been used in this preparation was drastically in- creased. The result was that through neurological indications it became clear that the babies who had been cared for with this preparation were suffering damage to the white cells of the brain.

If this cleaning agent had not originated as a bactericide and some analogous substance—such as a cosmetic claiming no medical benefit whatever to users and going into beauty soap, and falling, therefore, into the channel from which the noble Baroness wishes to remove this kind of protection—was put on the market, the first indication one would get of its harmfulness in small quantities would be in the results upon the users, be they children born or unborn. It is possible for substances—and hexachlorophane is one of them—to be absorbed through the skin into the system and to affect the unborn child. I feel, therefore, that the noble Baroness must consider very carefully the responsibilities that the passage of this Bill will place upon your Lordships if it is given the effect of a Statute.

In conclusion, may I echo what has been said in the earlier debate, and remind your Lordships of the Littlewood Committee Report which has been with us now for 10 years. There were 83 specific recommendations, 49 of which required legislation but only two of which have been put into effect—and those through administrative means. I believe that the Committee was right to recommend that if this network is to be altered it should be altered not piecemeal but intact. I foresee the occasion when I shall have to use the same analogy in another debate which is to take place later in this Chamber, but I do not think you can catch a fly by using part of a web. To take a little piece of the existing Statute and alter it to give a different effect will in this case have unforeseen consequences, not all of them beneficial.

At the moment, we should be asking Her Majesty's Government two pertinent questions. The first is: what steps have they taken and what plans have they now, in the light of the Report which was made 10 years ago, for altering the legislation? The second question is: have the Government attended to the remarks of my noble friend Lord Sandys at this Dispatch Box in the earlier debate, drawing their attention to the growing volume of information on the availability of tissue culture experiments to replace experiments on living animals? This is a fruitful field in which eventually—and in the not too distant future—it may be possible to remove from the admittedly grotesquely unpleasant field of experimentation the animals which are at present sacrificed, your Lordships may feel, upon the altar of human vanity.

However, I believe that the improvements which can legitimately be pursued by the noble Baroness—that is, the improvements which do not expose human beings to risk; and we must recall that in the last analysis human beings are more precious and important than animals—can be as well pursued under existing legislation. And if she wishes to hammer on the door, whichever door it is, which on being opened can release new legislation to update that which we have and which she at present seeks to amend piecemeal, she will have many willing and well justified supporters. In the meantime, however, while profoundly in sympathy with the aims of this Bill, I would wish to see it in a form very different from that in which it now is, before I could recommend your Lordships to accept its final version.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him two short questions? When he says that animals react differently from human beings to captivity or to pain, am I to understand that he is putting these points forward as assumptions or as scientific fact?


No, my Lords. As I think I made clear, I said that these are assumptions. I said that the measurement of pain, even in human beings, is almost impossibly difficult, and in animals which cannot speak it is worse. One can measure reactions, but that does not mean that one is measuring feeling. I was trying to avoid being drawn into the anthropomorphism which we are so fond of, where we think that the animal which is being pursued is thinking about its insurance policy and whether the mortgage is paid up, immediately before the wolf snaps upon its back.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord for clarification of one matter? In the case of hexachlorophane, I thought his argument was that it had been tested because it was introduced as a bactericide in America. This did not prevent the accident from happening. What inference does he draw from that, if it is not that the testing was quite irrelevant or ineffective?


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his helpful intervention, because I telescoped the story somewhat. I understand that the substance was originally introduced around 1930 when the structure of statutory testing was not complete. Also, I tried to say that it was only a partial analogy. However, it clearly shows the kind of dangers which can arise. The testing system was not then complete. However, I understand from reliable conversational sources that tests have been carried out relatively recently on the substance in the United States, that the danger was known in the United States, but that that knowledge had not penetrated to France at the time when the accident occurred. I do not wish to build a great complicated structure of argument on a particular case. All I wish to do is adduce the principle, and what I have said is, I think, sufficient to do that.

11.58 a.m.

The MINISTER of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Harris of Greenwich)

My Lords, I feel that I should begin with an apology to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who has been conducting Question Time for the last few moments so well! If I may first deal with a point he himself raised about the use of tissue cultures, I am advised that there are still many areas where these will not serve, but where they can serve they are preferred. If I may deal first with the speech which has been made by my noble friend Lady Phillips, as she said this is the second occasion in only seven weeks when your Lordships have debated the subject of experiments on living animals. The last occasion was when we had a debate initiated by my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby, calling attention to abuses of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. We are in debt to my noble friend for having given us another opportunity to debate this important topic this morning. I should like to say at the outset that the Government recognise that the motives of my noble friend are wholly laudable. There is no question of anyone attempting to label her as a crank. Where we differ from her—and I am afraid that we do—is on the question of whether the experiments on animals to which her Bill applies are so objectionable that they should be outlawed entirely from the field of legitimate scientific research, or whether there exists a sound justification for such experiments.

Section 3 of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 limits the experiments which may be licensed under that Act to those performed with a view to the advancement by new discovery of physiological knowledge or knowledge which will be useful for saving or prolonging life, or alleviating suffering, or for testing such a discovery. The intention of this Bill is to exclude from the scope of that Act experiments which are performed solely in the course of the development or testing of a cosmetic preparation as defined in the Bill.

At first sight there might seem to be much to commend this. We have heard a good deal about experiments involving the subjection of substantial numbers of animals to indignity and death for the development of a new lipstick or face cream. The use of cosmetics, it is argued, is an entirely voluntary act of mankind. Why, it is asked, should animals pay a penalty for this use? If mankind, or womankind, is not prepared to exercise restraint in the use of cosmetics, then let him, or her, take the risk. So runs the argument. But I am afraid there is more to it than that. This Bill is based on two assumptions. The first of these is that it is really possible to identify certain substances which are cosmetic preparations having no medical purpose, and to draw a distinction between these substances and all others. The second assumption is that experiments involving the use of animals can properly be outlawed in the case of certain substances, in this case cosmetic preparations having no medical value.

The Government's view is that both of these assumptions are mistaken. It is easy enough to compare the great life-giving drugs, which have alleviated so much human pain and suffering, with the frivolities of a beautician's parlour. But there is a borderline where the distinc- tion is much harder to make, and the noble Lord, Lord Elton, referred to this. Take the case of medical shampoos and dental preparations, where the cosmetic and medical functions overlap. Or the case of disfigurement, where the use of a wide range of cosmetics is the only means of enabling the sufferer to lead a normal life without crippling psychological stress. The noble Baroness may say that her Bill is expressly confined to the preparations which have no medical purpose. But how is that to be determined? A Bill of this kind must be drafted without ambiguity, and I think it is clear from the examples I have already given that any attempt to define these preparations by reference to the purposes they may serve is calculated to lead to unpredictable results and endless anomalies.

But there is a greater danger to this aspect of the Bill. I feel bound to point out to your Lordships that the Bill would put both experimenters and those concerned with the administration of this branch of the law in an extremely invidious position. Experimenters would constantly be tempted to advance some medical function for the substance being developed or tested. Administrators would be faced with the new and difficult task of assessing the justification of such a claim. The Bill is objectionable, therefore, in that the attempt to define "cosmetic preparation" by reference to functions will not only produce anomalies but will also open the door to widespread evasion. As a result, the effect of the Bill is likely to differ considerably from the promoter's intentions.

A more serious objection to the Bill is its assumption that it is the supposed medical purpose of a substance being tested which justifies an experiment. The acceptance of such an assumption would lead to a damaging restriction on the advancement of an important branch of public medicine. One of the great developments in medicine over the last century or so has been the emergence of preventive medicine, on which our public health procedures are based. The most recent feature of this development is in the field of consumer protection. All countries are now insisting that new products should be properly tested for safety in various ways before they are released to the public. This extends to other substances as well as new drugs and we can expect these requirements to grow stricter, not only in this country but internationally.

The philosophy of this Bill is that if manufacturers develop new cosmetics and the public want to buy them they must jointly share the risk. They are to be deprived of the best method of ensuring that a product will not cause harm. I find it difficult to believe that your Lordships will allow the possibility of exposing the public to such a risk when the means of preventing it exist. The risk will not, of course, be confined to those who use the product in full knowledge of the risks involved. The fact is that even among users there will be no knowledge of the risk until, as the noble Lord indicated, it is too late.

Even more important—and my noble friend Lady Phillips has attempted to anticipate this point being made—we have to remember the potential danger to children that a wide range of household products, including cosmetics, may present. I can best illustrate this by making reference, as my noble friend did in her speech, to the work of the National Poisons Information Service. The service began operating in 1963. In the first year of its existence it dealt with about 2,000 calls for information about the nature and treatment of incidents of poisoning. By 1974 this figure had risen to 20,000. Approximately two-thirds of these inquiries originated from incidents with children and about 800 of these referred to cosmetics. Fortunately, with this group of products there were no serious consequences. But we could not be sure that this happy outcome would continue if appropriate tests were made unlawful.

While the majority of the inquiries to the National Poisons Information Service arose from misplaced and accidental use of cosmetics—as when small children swallow face creams, lipsticks, mascara, hair dressings and skin lotions and so on—there remain other potential hazards from repeated use, ranging from irritation to the risk of creating allergies to those of precipitating cancer, hazards against which precautions must be taken by appropriate tests in animals. If we are not prepared to legislate to forbid the use of cosmetics, then we cannot deprive the manufacturers and the general public of the best safeguards against possible hazards that are known. Indeed, it goes further than that. If harmful substances get on to the market they will, at the very least, give rise to skin conditions and possibly more serious consequences. The development of medical preparations to remedy these conditions may well involve experiments using animals. What can be the logic of permitting animals to be experimented on for the purpose of producing a cure, but forbidding them being experimented on to prevent the circulation of the substance which causes the disease?

My Lords, I am not advancing a new argument. The Littlewood Committee on Experiments on Animals, which sat from 1963 to 1965, also considered this subject and reached precisely the same conclusion. In paragraph 266 of their Report, the Committee expressed the general view that, … we think that it is in any case undesirable as a general principle arbitrarily to determine that particular kinds of purpose should never be served by animal experiments whether or not they involve stress or pain ". My Lords, our debate today is about restricting the use of animals to test and develop cosmetic preparations. But if the only justification for using animals in research is the serving of a direct medical purpose, then we shall be faced with a series of Bills excluding animal experiments in such fields as pesticides and food additives. One of the more encouraging recent developments is the readiness of authorities throughout the world to insist on higher standards of consumer protection. This Bill runs directly counter to that development. It would have the effect of putting this country in the rear, instead of in the van, of progress. This Bill will not halt the research at which it is aimed. It will merely drive it, and the business based on it, abroad, so that the rigorous tests for consumer protection, involving the use of animals, as the noble Lord pointed out, which other countries require can be complied with. The experiments will then be taking place in countries where the standards for the protection of animals from pain and suffering are often a great deal lower than our own.

The Government of course share the concern of the noble Baroness and those who support this Bill for the welfare of animals. But we believe that the principles outlined in the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 strike the right balance between the needs of man and the prevention of unnecessary suffering to animals. In our view it would be a retrograde step to narrow the scope of the existing law in the way proposed by this Bill. For the reasons I have given, I am afraid that the Government will be unable to assist in any way with further progress on this Bill.

12.10 p.m.


My Lords, I did give notice to the noble Baroness that I would have a word on her speech. I had not realised that the noble Lord was rising to close the debate.

Several Noble Lords: No.


Frankly, my Lords, he did not give me much time. I am a little slow in getting up and—

Several Noble Lords: He was not closing the debate.


Well, winding up, then.


That is not so.


Well, he seemed to me to be giving a judgment of death: no assistance, no help, no anything. I had intended to go over one or two matters that were concerning me. I think one of them was mentioned by the noble Lord on the Benches opposite; that is, the question of surgical cosmetics, and cosmetics used in aid of surgery, of which I had some experience and knowledge at Roehampton, which dealt with some of the most suffering and noblest victims of the Great War. That is only a matter of flailing words and indeed must of the criticism that I have heard up to now is a matter of flailing words. I have some concern for an increasingly rare animal which is to be found only in Chancery Lane and which used to be called a Solicitor and which now faces Bills passing through this House—and indeed animals Bills passing through this House.

We have had a salmon Bill almost every year in the 30 years that I have been in Parliament, and every year my tin of salmon has cost more. At this moment we have a wild creatures Bill and a wild flowers Bill, and so on. We are going to have policemen searching for the blue butterfly in the Highlands and the natterjack toad in the suburbs—surely to the detriment of people who are liable to be mugged. One has to draw a balance. Even now on the television screen we can see dreadful crimes being perpetrated, like walking behind the bowler's arm, with complete impunity and apparently without any interference from the people who are present.


My Lords—


My Lords, this is not a matter to be facetious about, The noble Lord on our Front Bench has treated it as a matter of great gravity and great danger.

Several Noble Lords: Order!


My Lords, I wonder whether I might intervene? Will the noble Lord give way? There has already been an attempt to intervene. I think the noble Lord is under a misapprehension. I think the noble Lord believes that he has leapt into the gap that exists between the noble Lord, Lord Platt, and the noble Baroness Lady Phillips, at the end of this debate. He is in fact speaking third in the debate and there are nine other people waiting to speak after him. Therefore I hope the noble Lord, perhaps with the leave of the House, would come in later at the gap or would conclude his address to this Chamber very briefly because he is in fact entirely out of order.


My Lords, I am not aware of the Order under which it is out of order, but I have listened to a lot of out of order matters going on today and indeed a very grave offence by the Leader of the House.


My Lords—


My Lords, I only rose, to conclude briefly—


My Lords, will the noble Lord be so kind as to give way for a moment? I think the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is a very reasonable one, and I would seriously ask my noble friend Lord Hale if he would allow the debate to proceed. He does not have to forgo his opportunity to intervene in the debate; he can certainly join in, but I would suggest that instead of continuing with his speech now he waits until the last speaker before my noble friend Lady Phillips sums up and then makes his contribution. I should be very grateful if he would accept this suggestion.


My Lords, I was just saying that I was doing that.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord.

12.14 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of MANCHESTER

My Lords, I claim no special knowledge of the subject of experiments upon animals, but am emboldened by the opinion of the Littlewood Committee that: animal experiment is a moral and social problem which does not exclusively concern the expert ". Therefore, it may not be inappropriate for someone from this Bench to express support for the Bill introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips. Indeed, it may be that there is a note of reparation implicit in such an intervention by a Churchman—although not, I may say, a personal reparation—for it has been said that in the past cruelty to animals has been, if not encouraged, at least condoned by the teaching that whereas human beings have souls animals do not, and are therefore, so to say, entirely subservient to or expendable for human use. Your Lordships will not wish me to become involved in a theological argument, but it seems to me a more Christian temper in our own age that stresses human solidarity with other living creatures, and indeed with creation as a whole, than our division from them. Did not some earlier thinkers overlook the fact that inhumanity towards what were called "the lower animals" could have a brutalising effect upon human nature itself and thus encourage inhumanity to man?

At any rate, while gladly acknowledging that many medical benefits have accrued to us from animal experiments, I also note that in the century since the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, two things have occurred: experiments on animals have multiplied tenfold—and for many different purposes, by no means all therapeutic—and at the same time our capacity for maiming and killing human beings has likewise grown on a scale which defeats imagination. If "reverence for life" is to be a saving slogan in our generation, it may have to begin with quite modest yet definite steps, such as the banning of animal experiments simply designed to test cosmetics.

The noble Lord, Lord Elton, has reminded us that interest in animals and concern for their welfare is a particularly British characteristic, and we are rightly warned against accompanying sentimentality about animals which might remain indifferent to human suffering. But, my Lords, unnecessary cruelty is sometimes the other side of the coin to sentimentality, and where that is so we have the worst of both worlds. To read some of the details of the "Draize" methods of testing—eye damage, skin damage and forced feeding of animals—suggests to me that either the majority of people in this country are quite unaware of what is being done ostensibly for their benefit, or if they are aware then they are not willing the means to bring about the end they desire. For public opinion surveys made last year indicated that 73 per cent. of the electorate disapproved of cosmetics and toilet preparations being tested on animals. Ought there not then to be legislation that would give some shape to this no doubt vague disapproval?

I feel sure that some of your Lordships occasionally watch, as I do, those glamorous moments on television which advertise this or that brand of cosmetics—as often for men as for women, be it said. Without looking for unreliable atrocity stories, might it not sometimes be beneficial if the viewers could see, instead of those delightful and usually irrelevant fantasies, some of the actual processes involving monkeys, rabbits or rats by which the product has been tested? If such a note of realism were injected into our consciousness, even for a few days, I feel reasonably confident that questions would at least be asked about present practices that are taken for granted. Would there not be a considerable volume of opinion in favour of asking the Government for more information about the extent to which they have commissioned research on the development of alternative methods of testing cosmetics, which do not involve the infliction of pain on animals? The human ingenuity which can devise so many ways of flattering our vanity could (it may be argued) equally well be devoted to ways in which we ourselves were able to test these products safely and reliably, without recourse to the suffering or death of other living creatures.

My Lords, I once heard it said—and the saying has haunted me ever since—that if animals believed in the devil he would look remarkably like a human being. Far be it from me to impute diabolical motives or methods to those who take part in animal experiments today. Nevertheless, the use on a very large scale of other creatures, not for our necessary health but simply for our supposed adornment, seems to me closer, if I may say so, to the diabolical than to the divine. I hope the passing of this Bill might strike a blow for the awakening of our consciences to that idea.

12.20 p.m.


My Lords, I can scarcely express my pleasure at listening to the speech made just now by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester. How infrequently the ethical or moral issues are dealt with in debates on this subject. It is extraordinary that on other moral issues—marriage, divorce, sex, abortion, capital punishment—the theological arguments are listened to with great care, and are expressed frequently and at length. But on this question, if one dares to express the kind of feeling expressed by the right reverend Prelate, it is called sentiment. We are told we must not be sentimental. Underlying the whole debate is the harsh reality of human selfishness and commercial profit. I shall dwell on this a little later.

But, first of all, with great deference, I wish to comment on our procedure. I should have thought it would be customary, when a Private Member introduces a Bill into your Lordships' House, that the official spokesman for the Opposition and the Minister on the Government side would listen to some of the arguments about the Bill before coming in with an ohiter dicta from the Opposition, and the Home Office brief from the Government Front Bench. My noble friend Lord Hale was obviously under a misapprehension a moment or two ago. He thought that when the Opposition spokesman had finished and the Minister had spoken, that this was in the custom of the matter to wind up the debate, but in your Lordships' House it appears to open the debate, leaving those of us who follow with little opportunity to influence the minds of those who are in possession of greater influence and authority.

My noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich, for whom I have the highest regard, has now spoken. It just does not matter what we say; he has spoken. He is not, in fact, asking the permission of the House to speak again. The final speeches in this debate are being made from the Back-Benches, where in fact the debate began.


My Lords, it might be appropriate for me to intervene yet again to justify the arrangement made on this side of the House. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, listened with sufficient attention to notice that in conclusion I said something slightly ambivalent, to the effect that I would not recommend the Bill to go forward in its present form, but considerably altered. I thought it better to have an open mind, and to criticise this at the Committee stage, than to come to a hasty conclusion on an open question immediately after hearing a series of complicated arguments. I made this decision deliberately. I have advanced the reasons for doing it, although, of course, the noble Lord may not find them sufficient.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, but if I may say so with respect, it would have been better to have heard about his open mind a little later in the debate, so that those of us who are hoping against hope to influence the minds of those in a position to do something, could have had the opportunity of putting forward our views in the first place. However, that is all I want to say on that.

My Lords, no matter what is said against it, I shall support the Second Reading of this Bill on the well-established practice in your Lordships' House of supporting the Second Reading of a Bill one does not wholly agree with. This seems to be the form in your Lordships' House. One can come to the practical details of a Bill after the principle has been accepted. In any case, I think it is desirable for this House to register a positive view on this aspect of the matter, and the only way of doing so is to give this Bill a Second Reading.

As has already been explained, this Bill takes certain experiments and procedures out of the cover and the licence of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. If they are taken out of the disciplines and conditions of that Act, where do they go? As I understand it, they would then be matters to be dealt with in the normal courts of law relating to cruelty to animals, which presumably would be under the Protection of Animals Act 1911. I am not at all sure that that would be satisfactory. I would wish to see this sector of experimentation on living animals taken out of the 1876 Act but put under new disciplines, or alternatively, the 1876 Act amended or enlarged to put this sector of experiments under new controls and disciplines. Surely by now we are willing to accept that much that is done in the field of cosmetics, toiletries and substances in efficacy testing and quality testing does not really come within Section 3 of the 1876 Act.

My Lords, the 1876 Act has been quoted frequently, yet since it is the text under which the whole debate is to take place, it is worth while reminding your Lordships that Section 3 of the 1876 Act provides that: … certain 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, an experiment must be performed with a view to the advancement by new discovery of physiological knowledge or knowledge which will be useful … for saving or prolonging life or alleviating suffering …". Many sins have been committed against animals under the provisions of that section of the Act of 1876. It has been said more than once that in the whole century of the operation of this Act, there has never been any test of that construction of words taken to a court of law. No judge has ever had to construe those words, because no case has ever gone to the courts for that to be done. Under this Act, one cannot take proceedings against another person who is undertaking research, except by permission of the Secretary of State. He has not permitted any prosecution, so far as I can trace, to be taken against a person licensed under the 1876 Act.

I do not mention that as a reproach, but state it as a fact because it has been believed by successive Secretaries of State that other disciplines can be imposed on those who operate under this Act, which probably would be more effective than taking proceedings. Licences can be withdrawn, and licences have been withdrawn. But the fact remains that if this goes on—and many of us object deeply —under the cover of what I believe to be a misconstruction of the terms of the Act, then there is only one course of action left; that is, to proceed against the Home Secretary. Many of us would be reluctant to make this a conflict between the citizen and the Minister, and I am not uttering any threats in this connection at all. I am merely indicating that, short of that kind of proceeding against the Home Secretary, there is no means by which we can seek reforms within the machinery of the 1876 Act, and we are feeling rather helpless in connection with it.

We know that the Home Secretary has granted licences and certificates for many of these experiments to be conducted, although, on the construction of the Act, I think some doubt could be held as to whether they were within the terms of the Act. We also know that under various Acts of Parliament some substances have to be tested by law. One is the Therapeutic Substances Act 1956, and another the Medicines Act 1968. But only if therapeutic or medicinal qualities are claimed for a substance is mandatory testing required, and then we come to this problem of definition.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Harris that an Act of Parliament must be precise, and I doubt whether the definition in this Bill is precise enough. I do not, however, accept the conventional argument that is put forward ad nauseam in Ministerial letters, that it is impossible to distinguish between a cosmetic and a therapeutic substance. The law has to attempt very difficult definitions in many different circumstances. Consider, for example, the definitions under purchase tax; consider definitions under selective employment tax, value-added tax, and, let me say definitions under the Medicines Act 1968.

Under the Medicines (Exemption from Licences) Food and Cosmetic Order 1971, foods and cosmetics not used wholly or mainly for medicinal purposes are exempted from the Act, and therefore manufacturers of exempted products are under no statutory obligation to test products on animals. So there you have a definition to start with. That is, in a sense, a negative definition. If one is looking for a positive definition then I believe that the Department of Health and Social Security has had a shot at this, as follows: ' Cosmetic' means any substance or preparation intended to be applied to the various surfaces of the human body including epidermis, pilary system, and hair, lips and external genital organs, or the teeth and buccal mucosa wholly or mainly for the purpose of perfuming them, cleansing them, protecting them, caring for them or keeping them in condition, modifying their appearance (whether for aesthetic purposes or otherwise, or combating body odours or normal body perspiration. That is a fuller definition of "cosmetic" than appears in my noble friend's Bill, but it is an official one. It is not an amateurish effort to define a cosmetic.

There is, in addition, the fact that cosmetics, as defined, are not exempted from the requirements of the Act if curative or remedial claims in relation to a disease are made. This has a bearing on what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, namely, "How do you distinguish between a shampoo which is a cleanser, and a shampoo which is a dandruff cure or preventative? "This all goes into the detail, and this definition says: Cosmetics, as defined, are not exempted from the requirements of the Act if curative or remedial claims in relation to a disease are made, or if they contain any antibiotics or proportionately more than 0.004 per cent. of any hormone, or more than 1 per cent. of resoroinol. Yet my brief—and I do not despise briefs; it depends where they come from and whether you like the look of them—goes on to say: The Home Office are totally unable and unwilling to distinguish between cosmetics and therapeutic substances. In the light of what I have just read out, I am surprised that they are in such difficulty. They are not in difficulty when it comes to taxation, and other legislation, where they are required to have a definition so that a distinction may be made between one thing and another.

Nevertheless, we can leave the question of mandatory testing for the moment, and perhaps leave the definition of a cosmetic for the moment, because I think, being realists, we will agree that for his own sake, as well as that of the public, the wise merchant tests his wares as carefully as possible. He is open to civil action for damages if he places on sale a substance which causes harm to people, and as a result of some alleged negligence on his part he may inflict harm on someone who could claim compensation. But the question before the House this morning is not whether these substances should be tested, but how they should be tested; on what and on whom they should be tested.

It is gratifying to hear from various cosmetic manufacturers that increasingly they are turning away from testing their products on live animals, and are content to do it on human beings who volunteer in their laboratories for the purpose. This is a welcome sign. I mentioned in my speech to this House on 14th May that some manufacturers of cosmetics, well known brands and names in this country, would dispense with animals altogether were it not for the requirement in other countries, particularly the United States, who require certificates of testing on animals for various products before they will accept them as imports into their country. I mentioned that probably this is a question for consideration between Governments. In the American market alone it is said that 100 new substances, cosmetic products, are marketed every week.

Here I want to refer to the commercial aspect of this matter. There may be some substances which go in compounds, or in formulae, which have basic qualities or dangers. They may have elements of toxicity which will show themselves in whatever form, and in whatever compound, they are put. After all this time it should surely be known what are the danger substances, and what are not. Messrs. Boots, who manufacture very large quantities of cosmetics, have said that there is really nothing new in the basic substances of cosmetics used for human adornment, and so on, and that it is only a matter of the way in which they are put together and the qualities claimed for them when that is done.

I complain bitterly that there is no discipline here over what people are doing, and each firm pursues its own research. One finds this in the most obvious way in connection with the testing of tobacco which is going on at the present time. There is not one place or one agreed basis on which the tests should be done; they all want to have their own because they all want to come out in front. Gallahers and the Imperial Tobacco Group have their own separate researches going on in separate establishments on separate fees paid to separate commercial research stations.

All this is being duplicated so much because of the commercial and competitive element in what these companies are doing and your Lordships can imagine how one of these enormously rich tobacco groups wishes one day to be able to say, "We have the answer. We are in front," and this is sheer commercial competition. But on such a grave matter as an addiction, which is killing so many thousands of people every year in this country, one would have thought that central discipline, Government control, over research should be undertaken so that the whole community knows what is happening and work may be undertaken on behalf of the whole community and not get mixed up with competitive enterprise.

I do not want to dwell on this for too long, but one must consider the commercial nature of the research stations, which are growing in number and size. There is one research station I know of which has a turnover of about £3 million a year. It has a board of directors, the chairman of which gets £15,500 a year, and five other directors get £10,000 a year. They employ 900 people, and while it is an English company it is American-owned. This example can be repeated a number of times. I am going into this most carefully to see who is involved, who is running these organisations, and who is profiting by them, and I am sure that it will be interesting to see the results.

It is repugnant that these experiments should be conducted on living animals in the name of research, in the name of experiment, in the name of the discovery of new physiological knowledge and wholly for commercial purposes. When I see a letter from the Home Office on this subject I learn that this research is being undertaken" to meet a public demand "and to" contribute to a public benefit ". Bear in mind, my Lords, that a great deal of this public demand is generated by promotional, advertising and the other means which are adopted by the advertisers and promoters of commercial products. They wish to create the demand, and when they have created it they then wish to experiment more and more on animals in order to bring out more substances for this kind of commercial enterprise. I am not deriding this. I am simply saying that I do not think we are morally justified in putting so many animals through so much agony, or at least discomfort, for the purpose of human pride or consumer expenditure

I will not weary the House by detailing the enormous amount of material that is available in the several fields of toxicity testing. There is oral toxicity, skin irritancy, skin sensitisation, eye irritancy and inhalation toxicity of aerosols. Are we not moved by the fact that some animals are obliged compulsorily for periods on end to inhale hairspr[...]y. and the Americans, we now learn, are about to ban the aerosol? Yet this is used in our laboratories. Eye irritation is a particularly distasteful form of experiment. I have particulars with me of mice which are fed with sucrose-rich powdered diets which tend to induce dental caries. These are Beecham's tests. The test toothpaste is brushed on to the animals' teeth. The brushing procedure consists of gently rotating a cotton bud coated with toothpaste in the animals' mouths. The animals are held in the hand during brushing, which takes three or four seconds, and this is repeated daily, and after three weeks on test the animals are killed with Co2 and small caries are detected microscopically.

I am told that the caries are not large enough "to cause any discomfort "to the living animal, and I gather that toothpastes are tested on human teeth but that the results are not as satisfactory as using live animals before an expensive clinical trial. Rats are injected with pilocarpine, a sweat-inducing compound, and beads of sweat are visualised under the microscope. To test the efficiency of antiperspirants, rats under nembutal anaesthesia are coated with a test anti-perspirant on one hind foot three, five and 24 hours after treatment. The rats are injected with pilocarpine and observed, and the difference in the mean sweating time between treated and untreated hind feet is measured to gather the antiperspirant efficiency. One could go on giving other examples.

I have occupied a much longer period that is justified, my Lords, and I now come to my own practical approach to this matter. I do not believe that this range of so-called experiments outside therapeutic and medicinal substances comes within the provisions of the 1876 Act. I do not think that they should be cast out of the 1876 Act, and left to find their own destination. I can think of many new problems which would arise if the disciplines of the 1876 Act were entirely removed.

A new approach should be made to this question within or outside the 1876 Act. These experiments are growing all the time. Noble Lords must realise that we will never be finished with these experiments, because even when substances have been tested and tested, they are still put down the throats of animals or are injected into their stomachs to prove efficacy or quality. It is a continuing process and the millions of animals used for this purpose will continue to be so used. What is needed is a reappraisal of what is happening here. How much of it is really necessary? How much of it can be co-ordinated? How much of it can be taken out of the field of commercial and competitive enterprise? I do not think that animals should be subjected to this treatment for the purpose of commercial profit. I recognise that substances will be manufactured for profit, but I do not agree that new substances should be invented, promoted and advertised for human consumption in the knowledge that they can go on being tested on animals until the end of time. Therefore a reappraisal of this activity is now overdue.

A few minutes ago the right reverend Prelate said that when people were asked in the street whether they were in favour of using animals for the testing of cosmetics, 73 per cent. said, "No ". Probably they do not fully realise how right they are. There is a feeling of increasing disquiet which we are entitled to have investigated. It is suggested that there may be difficulties in having fresh legislation. All Governments have very crowded legislative programmes, and many Governments wish to leave these difficult and delicate matters to Private Member's Bills, because they do not have the courage to promote such legislation themselves. They also know that it is much easier to knock down the inadequate drafting or the unsatisfactory content in a Private Member's Bill, as they have done this morning, rather than produce one themselves. They will say that a Private Member's Bill is badly drafted, that it does not do this, hut does that, and that it leaves out something else. It is as easy as anything to criticise Bills of this kind.

Therefore, if there is difficulty about getting legislation, can we not have the advisory committee more fully utilised than it is at present? It is within the province of the Home Secretary; he does not need an Act of Parliament to do this. He has enlarged the membership of the advisory committee and he has referred more matters to it. But he could refer many more, and he could reconstitute it and give it a properly serviced secretariat. He could provide expert assessors, and he could make the advisory committee a valuable instrument of advice to him in guiding his own actions under the 1876 Act. That is something which we can at least press upon the Home Secretary. In the meantime, the message I want to convey is in the Bill and I shall vote for it.

12.53 p.m.


My Lords. I heartily support everything said by the noble Lord who has just sat down. I also support the right reverend Prelate who spoke before him and I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, in being so courageous as to introduce this Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, said, very great commercial interests are involved in this matter. I understand that the cosmetic trade in this country amounts to an annual income of about £300 million, which is no small sum. I repeat the question posed by the noble Lord. Lord Houghton: are we really morally justified in allowing upwards of, I understand. 1 million animals to suffer pain, distress and death in order to support the cosmetic market in this country? My noble friend Lord Elton has had to leave the Chamber. He told me that he would have to leave, and I quite understand that. He said that he thought the noble Baroness was wrong in trying to amend the law piecemeal. But if the noble Baroness had to include in her Bill all the medical and non-medical experiments carried out on animals, I suppose it could take 30, 40 or perhaps even 50 years before such experiments were done away with. Mention has also been made this morning of tissue culture, and that will grow and grow. I have no doubt that one day—it is probably a long time ahead—vivisection carried out for medical purposes may be done away with.

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that it is nonsense on the part of the Home Office to say that you cannot define medical and non-medical experiments. The noble Baroness has been very mild in her approach to this matter. She has not included, for instance, floor polishes, detergents, weed killers, and many other non-medical substances, such as food dyes, et cetera. I understand that of all the experiments carried out on animals two-thirds are non-medical. That involves a great number of animals—I understand between 6 million and 7 million yearly. Such experiments are helping to create a market for cosmetics. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, said that every week 100 cosmetic preparations come on to the market in this country. Of course they are not all manufactured in this country; some are imported, no doubt from America. But this trade is to satisfy, I believe, 21 million female customers. There is also the question of cosmetics for men. I understand that here there is a growing market in such things as aftershave lotions and other preparations. I do not use such preparations personally, apart perhaps from a little something sometimes to keep my hair in place when I am in your Lordships' House; although I do not know whether my hair is in place at the moment. I am told that cosmetics for men is a rapidly growing market.

Government bodies have admitted that many animals are force-fed with these cosmetic preparations. What I object to—and I have raised this in previous debates—is the test which goes under the scientific term LD 50, which stands for lethal dose, with 50 per cent, of the animals killed within 14 days. I cannot understand why, if one wishes to test the toxicity of a cosmetic, one has eventually to give such a big dose that the animal is killed. Surely all that is required is an adverse effect. I cannot understand why an animal has to be forcibly fed until either it is killed or, if it survives, suffers great pain and then is presumably killed in any case by other means.

Another nasty aspect is that during these test animals are subjected to other unpleasant tests relating to their blood, their brain fluid and other similar matters. The only objects that I can see, of forcibly feeding animals with these substances to ensure that they will die, is to discover how much of these substances is required to commit suicide. But if one is intent on committing suicide, then one can do so by drinking enough of almost anything. One can commit suicide in many ways. If one drinks enough whisky one can presumably commit suicide by getting alcholic poisoning. I think that there is some illogicality here.

It was the noble Lord, Lord Harris, who said that for cosmetics it is absolutely essential to experiment on animals. I agree that what I am about to say has nothing to do with cosmetics, but thalidomide proved to be perfectly safe with animals, but we all know what happened when it was applied to human beings. We have cases of vice versa reaction. Take insulin and cortisone. When applied to animals they resulted in various deformities, but they appear to be safe in human beings. Therefore, the noble Lord's argument is not 100 per cent. Animals are not always a valid test. I can give plenty of examples. When we come to testing cosmetics in the eyes of animals—cosmetics such as shampoos, mascara and things like that—the Huntingdon Research Centre tried 10 different shampoos and instilled them into rabbit's eyes. One of these shampoos caused some of the rabbits to scream, but they all had convulsions. The interesting point is that they then tried a strong soap solution which was painful to human eyes, but apparently when applied to rabbits' eyes it had a mild effect. Therefore, again, it does not appear that these tests on animals are 100 per cent. accurate when applied to human beings.

I think that rather explodes the brief of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, on this subject. I have not had the advantage of any brief, but I should just like to point that out. There are also, of course, very great differences between the various species of animals, and the reactions to tests of various individuals of any species also differ. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, touched on this point. I believe it is a fact that, on the whole, the manufacturers are not so concerned on the scientific validity of experiments, but are far more concerned with the legal aspect. In other words, they are really concerned, should one of their products damage a human being, to be able to say, "We tried this out on thousands of animals in our laboratories, where it was thought to be quite safe ". We cannot blame the scientists in regard to non-medical cosmetics. If we are to blame anyone, then I think it must be the manufacturers of these products, because I believe the noble Lord also mentioned that there are now alternatives. I understand that there are quite safe methods for testing skin lotions on humans.

I should like also to refer to the recommendations of the Littlewood Report. I have raised this matter in your Lordships' House on countless occasions. Why have the Government done nothing about this Report? It is really quite extraordinary. This excellent Report, produced in 1965, contained 83 recommendations, 40 of which could be implemented and two of which have been implemented—or so the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said. Here we have an extraordinary position. We have the Government giving time for a Hare Coursing Bill which will preserve the life—for a short time perhaps—of 2,000 or 3,000 hares who will probably end up suffering a far worse death from gunshot wounds or snares, while the Government will not have a Bill to save the suffering of a million or more animals. It does not seem logical and I cannot understand their attitude.

My Lords, I should like to say a lot more but I shall not do so because I know that some noble Lords would like to go to lunch. But I should remind noble Lords that we ourselves are mammals, we are human animals, and some of us to a great extent—it depends on our experience of animals and our attitude towards them—may regard an animal just as we would regard a motor bicycle. But the noble Lord, Lord Elton—I think it was—stated what appeared to be a matter of fact about pain in animals, and about how much pain they feel, but it can only be an assumption. All I know is that the other day a dog of mine had to have his foot operated on, because he had wrenched a claw out of his toe. When I took him back to have the dressing off, he got to within 200 or 300 yards of the vet's house and started to whine and cry. It may be that he is a particularly sensitive dog, but from my experience of animals they can feel pain every bit as much as we can. Therefore, I will end by saying that though we claim to be the most civilised of the mammals,think that our treatment of animals leaves a great deal to be desired. So I heartily support the Bill of the noble Baroness, as I trust will your Lordships, and I hope that you will give it a Second Reading.

1.9 p.m.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, I am certainly not going to call the noble Baroness either a crank or a fanatic in a good cause, because it is a good cause. I am certain that my feelings about her attitude are the same as everybody else's. She is a good-hearted, kind-hearted Baroness and would like to see the lot of animals improved—and so would I; and so, too, would the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. But I have to reconcile some very real responsibilities in this matter—responsibilities which your Lordships share only at second-hand through legislation—by being responsible for these (shall I say?) sacrifices of 150,000 animals every year in the Institute of Cancer Research, which is a post-graduate teaching school at London University. You have to reconcile that with the fact that, as a matter of conscience, I will not eat pâté de foie gras because I am certain it inflicts unnecessary suffering on the goose. Having attended City dinners, I have a fellow feeling for it. I cannot commend the Bill because it is in danger of emptying the medical baby out with the cosmetic bathwater—whether bubble or otherwise, does not matter—and I will give my reasons for that later.

May I say I much regret having been unable to be present at the earlier Motion for Papers moved by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. I studied it in detail in Hansard and tried to extract one or two themes from it which are relevant to our business today. There seems to be a climate of opinion developing which I feel I must challenge. One such opinion is that you may not employ animals for experimental purposes unless the results are of scientific value. I do not think the discovery that vinyl chloride monomer is carcinogenic is of great scientific value. Scientifically, it only adds one to an overlong list of carcinogens whose modus operandi we do not understand. But it is of tremendous social value when you think that workers are using vinyl chloride monomer in the course of making polyvinyl chloride plastic. So the fact that the result is not of scientific importance does not mean that it is not if importance generally.

The other trend I detect in the climate of opinion is that animals should not be used for frivolous purposes. I agree with that, if we can agree on what the frivolous purpose is. Two qualifications must be borne in mind: the purpose may be frivolous in some respects, but not in all. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, gave a very good example of the difference between vanity, wishing to beautify one's appearance, and the relief from mental suffering through having had one's appearance marred by disfigurement. He did not enlarge on this, though he might have done so, and I am going to do so. Scar tissue is at best a substitute for normal tissue, and it is more than normally liable to develop into a tumorous condition. It is more sensitive than ordinary tissue to carcinogens. The effect of this Bill if it became law in its present form is simply that if one of my colleagues at the Institute of Cancer Research suspected a cosmetic had a carcinogen in it, we would not be able to find out about it because we would not be allowed to carry out an experiment on an animal with a cosmetic. That would be terribly limiting. That is the main reason that I cannot support the way the noble Baroness has embodied her good intentions in the Bill.

As an example of a process being not always avoidable, if you dig down deep enough you will find at the levels of pre-Dynastic Egypt, 6,000 years ago carved slate pallets on which the beauties of those days mixed their powdered malachite and unguents in order to put green shading on the upper eyelids. A habit which has been going on for 6,000 years will not be dropped lightly. I shall not go into the question of whether women should or should not wear makeup. I have heard the matter argued in more than one way—Women's Lib takes a rather different view of the matter from Elizabeth Arden. The animal ethologists say that women wear adornments not to attract men but to intimidate other women. I shall not go into this argument either. All I am concerned with is that if the daughters of Eve have cosmetics on their dressing tables, then her granddaughters under the age of reason are liable to eat them, and we must know what is in these materials.

I would infinitely prefer legislation to require cosmetic manufacturers—I do not know whether they are under the same obligation as pharmaceutical houses—to declare the composition of their materials. I am not the least complacent or pleased at the current state of affairs in the cosmetic field, but I do not believe the proposed cure of the noble Baroness is the right one. On the moral issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, I am very much with the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and I am not entirely in accord with the right reverend Prelate. I do not think here we have a choice between what is good and what is bad. We have a conflict of duties: our duty to animals and our duty to fellow human beings. We have made the Home Secretary the keeper of our conscience in this matter, so that what is permissible and what is not permissible is never in the hands of a self-interested party. That is the thought behind the act.

We are all a little uneasy that the keeper of our conscience is not responding as he should to some of the problems which have arisen in recent years. We have had our feelings harrowed by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, about pilocarpine being put on the feet of rats. But I must tell your Lordships that I have been on a course of pilocarpine eyedrops to relieve a little tension in one of my eyeballs and, so far as I am concerned, what is good enough for my eyes is good enough for a rat's foot. I am not going to have my feelings harrowed by that example. This is an emotive subject, where you can easily have your feelings harrowed. I am not happy about some of the experiments which involve tumbling rats in a cage in order to bring out stress syndromes. One of the cruelist things you can do to a mouse is to keep it in solitary confinement. Mice need other mice. This is one curious paradox. Animal lovers, a little boy with a pet mouse, subject it to great hardship by depriving it of the company of other mice. As Bertrand Russell once said, our lives should be inspired by love and guided by knowledge, and we need both if we are going to look after animals properly.

I want to see more protection for animals, not necessarily this kind of protection. I want to see a tougher Home Secretary, who, frankly, takes more interest in using his powers to see that objectionable experiments are if necessary mitigated. We have heard about animals having drops of detergent or shampoo poured in their eyes. If that is to be done to find out whether the contents of the drops have permanent influence, there is no reason why a local anaesthetic should not be added. It is up to the Home Secretary to say, "I am not going to give you a licence to do this unless you mix the material with an anaesthetic so the animal does not suffer ". This means taking more trouble over the job.

The answer is not another Act of Parliament, but more Parliamentary pressure on the Home Office. I believe with our present legislation we can do a lot. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that we do not want piecemeal handling of this subject. I want to see the whole matter properly treated. The Cruelty to Animals Act is nearly 100 years old—in fact even the spelling of "curare" has changed since the Act was drafted. Nobody had any idea in those days that the secondmost intelligent animal on the planet is probably the dolphin. The dolphins which your Lordships may be entertained by in a dolphinarium are not the common dolphin of the Mediterranean and general areas, for they do not survive the nervous shock of capture. The dolphins in a dolphinarium are from the Caribbean. Their natural life span is twenty-five years. That is shortened in a dolphinarium to five years because the dolphins are subjected to the pulmonary disorders to which we are subject, against which it has no immune system whatsoever. I want to see a lot more done on those lines. The special protection we afford to horses, sheep, goats, dogs and cats ought to be taken off the basis of sentimentality and put on the basis of science; the science of the nervous system: how nervously developed are these animals?

The Home Secretary ought to have the initial list scheduled and ought to have the power to add to it, in terms of new scientific knowledge, and so on. Everything is pinned round the concept of the vertebrate, but in fact since the Act was drafted we have learned that the higher invertebrates, the higher molluscs, the octopuses, and so on, are highly intelligent, with highly developed nervous systems—intelligent enough to recognise the letters of the alphabet. This argues a highly-developed nervous system.

Of course, to some extent, common sense must be brought into the argument. For instance when you are testing something for safety, you do not test arsenic or cyanide of potassium for safety: you know they are deadly poisons. You test for safety on the presumption that what you test is safe, because these tests cost a lot of money. So, if it is safe, as you hope, nothing very much happens. I quite agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, about the unnecessary provision of the LD 50s on things like cold cream, and so on. I believe this to be quite unnecessary. This, again, is a matter of consumer protection which has to be worked out. But what is the largest dose of cold cream that a child is likely to swallow from its mother's dressing table as a percentage of its own body weight? If you gave that much to a mouse or rat, varying it over the species, and the animal survived, I should have thought you knew as much as you needed to know about the lethal characteristics of cold cream.

However, I must come back to this danger of carcinogenesis. It is part of the essence of things like lipsticks that they are used continuously and regularly, and it is of the essence of carcinogenic materials that it is their regular application which causes a tumour, or what we call cancer, to originate. The freedom of the scientist to test anything that is to come into regular contact with the human skin must be maintained. When we come to the question of alternatives, I can only repeat what I have said many times before in your Lordships' House. Alternatives are cheaper and more reliable than the use of animals. The only limitation on the use of alternatives is where the animal is absolutely essential—because, as I think somebody once said, "There is no such thing as a pregnant test-tube." If you want to find out whether a chemical substance is teretogenic, you have to make your test on a pregnant animal—a primate—as closely allied to our species as possible. The terrible thalidomide tragedy was due to the fact that the concept of a non-toxic teratogen—all known teratogens were toxic—was just unimaginable: it was not believed that it could be thalidomide for a long time, for that reason. But now we know this can happen, everything has to be tested and we are demanding, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said, more and more of this.

I see that the noble Lord is back again in his place, and I shall now wind up my speech by saying that I do not think either of the two Parties who face each other across this House have shouldered their responsibilities in this matter. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, said that they were scared, and I think he hit quite close to the gold. This is an emotional subject and nobody, of whatever political complexion, likes applying the Whips on such subjects. For instance, hanging was left to a free vote of the House. A Department with responsibility for implementing an Act is scared of having that Act mutilated in Committee by enthusiasts and then having the responsibility for administering it afterwards. So it does not want to apply the Whips yet it is scared of the consequences if it does not; and so it does nothing. That is why nothing has happened about the Littlewood Report for 10 years. I charge both Parties equally over this omission. They have funked instead of confronted the obviously awkward issues involved if we are to bring up to date our legislation for what I regard as our trusteeship over the animal kingdom.


My Lords, may I just ask the noble Earl, whose speech I very much enjoyed, one factual question? He said that a great deal had to be done and then, almost in the same sentence, said:" it does not need legislation ". I think he meant that it does mean legislation on a big scale—a new Act—but not legislation on a piecemeal scale. Am I right in that?

The Earl of HALSBURY

The noble Lord is absolutely right.

1.26 p.m.


My Lords, the first part of the Bill does in fact rise against the trend of legislation on the Continent. That in itself is no bad thing because this country has always led the world in legislation, in effect providing the world with an example of the way to go about things and of the way in which we should progress. But the tendency on the Continent is to emphasise the consumer. When we boil things down to their elementals, the consumer is the child. Last year an enormous number of children were the subject of inquiries to doctors, and we feel that doctors themselves need guidance in order to help their patients and those in charge of patients. In America, far from limiting the pre-marketing testing of products, they are increasing testing legislation: so this Bill goes a long way towards reversing what the rest of the world is doing. I do not take the view that other countries—and I am talking chiefly of Continental countries—are more backward than we are in protecting animals, but at the same time we in this country are of a character which needs support from the world and should take into account what the world is thinking. The limitation of experiments on animals may mean an increase in danger to children. Indeed, were we in a better position to protect children regarding drugs which are kept in too many bathrooms, it would be a good thing; but we know that there are many dangerous drugs readily available in homes for children to absorb, and attempts are made from time to time to protect children.

We have here a Bill which is aimed at the very reverse: at least that will be its effect, it seems to me. I view the efforts of the noble Baroness as entirely praiseworthy. She has advanced her case in a modest way, but at the same time surely we should take into account the effect it may have if there is no possible replacement for animal testing, which is attacked by this Bill. Only a woman could move such a Bill, for the simple reason that, by and large, the cosmetic trade is largely, if not exclusively these days, one which is of interest to women. Therefore, for a man to attack cosmetics would be self-defeating.

We in this line of country recognise that, whereas the word "manufacture" does not appear in the 1876 Act or the present Bill, nevertheless by implication manufacture is safeguarded and workers are themselves subject to and protected by existing legislation. We are also concerned with the fact that we want to eliminate risk so far as possible. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, in an admirable speech, largely devoted to a criticism of the interventions at an early stage of both Front Benches, fell into a trap in the sense that he discussed danger but ignored the risk which we aim to eliminate from our lives. If we are to eliminate risk, we must find a replacement of the present system of animal experimentation. Nevertheless, in the present state of science, surely it is fair to assume that we cannot be sure on purely scientific experimentation of products. If we could eliminate animal testing in this way, so much the better, but we cannot.

If the public at large were not so gullible as they are; if people read the caveats on bottles and containers, we should feel happier, but we know that they do not. If for example, a child was capable of seeing the warning caveats on bottles, much of our anxieties would cease, but they cannot. As a result, testing has to be done before a product reaches consumer level. We therefore take the view, those of us who are in support of the noble Baroness in her Bill, that until a replacement of animal experimentation can be found which will eliminate all chance of risk, it must remain. I have always held the view that people who are of the school of thought which denotes or suggests that the public ought to know better are wrong. The public and the child population must be protected; and for this reason I hope that the Bill will not receive its Second Reading.

1.34 p.m.


My Lords, although basically I am opposed to any important limitation other than ordinary revision of the provisions of the 1876 Act, I am nevertheless attracted at first glance by the proposal that experiments or observations should not be permitted for the testing of cosmetic preparations. I acknowledge the desirable motives that have impelled the noble Baroness to introduce this Bill. I repeat that my own first reaction is towards supporting the Bill because, while animal experimentation employed to lessen human suffering and to advance and extend enjoyment of life and living is acceptable, the use of the law to permit the testing and preparation of cosmetics on the face of it seems unacceptable. This first simple reaction to the problem must affect many people in like manner, and reasonably so. But it is clearly necessary to examine the matter more carefully and to try to ascertain all the facts involved in the Bill, and whether what seems to be a commendable piece of legislation is in fact more complicated and could give rise to an undesirable situation or situations—in fact, whether it is as simple as it appears at first sight. I fear it has certain inherent drawbacks and disadvantages that could give rise to trouble that make it not desirable that it should be enacted.

The first point is that the animal tests of cosmetic substances there can be no from and additional to the 1876 Act, and they spring from later Acts of Parliament that command that certain tests must be done with the sole object of protecting the public. The legislation to effect this is not contained in the 1876 Act but involves later Acts. The requirements under these Acts are strict and precise and arise from the wisdom of Parliament, and that quite recently. We have a generalisation that the experiments, the tests laid down by Parliament, have no medical purposes, and the bedrock of this Bill is the implication that in dealing with cosmetic substances there can be no medical purpose. It is even maintained, and of course repeated in this House this morning, that only one out of three tests used and demanded on animals has any medical purpose, and that the others should be excluded as being non-medical tests. This could be a simple way out of the difficulty if it were feasible. But it cannot be substantiated, because it is difficult to define what is a medical and what a non-medical preparation.

It is surely certain that substances should be tested for any toxic effect they may have. It is essential for the protection of the user and of the public in general that any toxic effect should be known. Indeed, if there were no such control, no such protection and no tests to show how toxic or other harmful effects could be recognised and prevented, then there would be a violent public protest and public outcry. It is also important to know what harm can be caused by the misuse of cosmetic substances all of which, for example, seem to exercise a special attraction to children. It is not a sole question of protection of the users of cosmetics, but of the protection of others who use the products casually or inadvertently.

For example, each year produces a large number of calls on the National Poison Information Service, which was established in 1963 as part of the National Health Service. Doctors and others ring up for information on the possible ill-effects on little Tommy or little Mary, who has either used one of mummy's beauty preparations or even swallowed it when this was not intended. The Service can supply information about the poisonous or non-poisonous nature of the substance and what treatment, if any, is required. It has full records it can draw upon for this information. Several noble Lords have emphasised that in the first year of its existence it dealt with 2,000 calls, and by 1974 it was dealing with 20,000, two-thirds from incidents with children, and about 800 of these referred to cosmetics. Although this subject has been mentioned several times in the House today, I have no reticence in re-emphasising it because this Service and its experience are of such importance.


My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting him? But he is such a distinguished expert and this point is very important. Many noble Lords have mentioned this particular Service. What they have not made clear is what kind of test is involved to get the piece of information just mentioned to be given to a doctor when a product contains poisonous substances. Is it necessary to have a test on an animal to determine that piece of information?


My Lords, I do not see how we are going to get the information fully and completely unless some tests have been made as to the toxic or poisonous nature of the substance.

There is great difficulty also in defining what is a cosmetic. It is in fact almost impossible to define it, and I doubt whether the definition proposed in Clause 1(2) would stand up to searching legal inquiry. It is superficially complete and an apparently successful definition, but it would not stand up to aggressive analysis. Many cosmetic substances are the basis of some kind of medical treatment. For example, many creams for the treatment of skin disorders also serve as the basis of cosmetic substances. Is it suggested that these should not be tested for any harmful effect that they may have? Even toothpaste may be classified as a cosmetic.

In addition to the accidental use or ingestion of cosmetics by small children, there exist other dangers from their use—especially from the repeated use of various cosmetics—such as irritation, the production of allergies and even the development of cancer. Precautions must be taken against these by the use of appropriate tests. If such testing were prohibited by law there would be a violent public outcry that no reasonable and proper precautions were being taken to protect the public from harmful substances.

As has already been mentioned by several noble Lords, it must also be remembered that for British goods to be exported to Europe, research and testing must continue if they are to be acceptable as approved substances. Without this testing they will not be allowed in. Other countries still have laws and regulations which are designed to give their public a degree of protection from harmful substances, and they will not allow the import of substances from Britain and elsewhere that have not been tested. In effect therefore, although at first sight this Bill appears to be acceptable and deserving of support, the true situation is very different. It could be a danger to health, and I maintain that it should not receive support.

1.42 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to address your Lordship's House may I say at once that I am in full support of the Bill of the noble Baroness. Before we arrived we all knew of the showers of chilly water which would be poured upon it by both Front Benches and also by noble Lords who are so involved in the actual happenings. In my view, that does not make the introduction of this Bill by the noble Baroness any less praiseworthy, since I feel it must be acceptable. The noble Baroness has done something which many of us should do. She has drawn attention once again to the Report of the Departmental Committee on experiments on animals which has now been outstanding for ten years, although hardly a ripple of interest has been shown in it.

As I ventured to mention in your Lordships' House during the earlier debate, the noble Baroness has drawn attention to the real basis of the matter which is in paragraph 237. I quoted it there in your Lordships' House, and I shall venture to quote it again: Who can say whether, if certain biological tests were forbidden, satisfactory chemical or other means of testing would not be developed? Who is responsible for establishing whether modern medical techniques, with emphasis on immunology and drug therapy, both of which are inseparable from animal experimentation, are developing medical practice in the right direction? Who is to take responsibility for moral or ethical judgments on the use of animals for experimental purposes as such? Certain noble Lords are prepared to take this decision, but I personally would need to think long and carefully about it. The Bill of the noble Baroness poses such a question. Let us suppose that it was forbidden to make experiments. Would not the industrial concerns—which are so involved in the vast commercial activities of the preparation of cosmetics, however you define them, whether as the noble Baroness has done or in some other way—be prepared to devote some of their vast resources to producing the same product in a different way? I am quite convinced that they would.

We have spent some time discussing this Bill from all kinds of angles and I do not propose to go very much further with it, except to thank the noble Baroness for introducing this Bill. If she and a number of other noble Lords and persons in another place could continually produce Bills like this and stir up the matter, we might get some action on the 82 or 83 recommendations of this Report and it might do some good to the animals which in their thousands are now suffering.

1.46 p.m.


My Lords, may I add my congratulations to those of other noble Lords to the noble Baroness who has introduced this subject—and also for being able to introduce it in 11 minutes, which was most laudable. We agree on most of the premises; we are all against cruel experiments. But I think we must ask the question point blank: Do we think that cruel experiments are being carried out in the testing of cosmetics? My only answer is, Yes, I think so. If that is so, one must realise that they are being carried out under the shelter of the Act of 1876 which exists to protect persons who are conducting animal experiments. This is just another sign that that Act is out of date. It was made at a time when commercial testing was not being considered. It was a matter of experiments by scientists who were working in medical schools and so on. Therefore, somebody is giving cover to these people.

Does not this at once point to the fact that the initial licensing procedure and the certificates which are given for the performance of certain experiments are being given too freely and are not being considered by any central body which meets regularly to consider, "Do we consider that such-and-such a type of experiment should be allowed under the Act?" I was a member of the Home Office Advisory Committee for 11 years. We met only five times in those 11 years. I do not know how many million experiments were conducted during that period, but we considered 24 cases. Largely these were cases referred to us by the Inspectorate. The Inspectorate is extremely important, but it has only limited power. If a person has a licence and certificates which have been signed by a competent professor and countersigned by the head of the Royal College, he is allowed to do those experiments. The inspector may say, "I would never have allowed you to do them ", but that is not his business. He has no power to do that. What he has the power to do is to say," You are doing experiments which you are not entitled to do under the particular certificate which you hold." That would indeed be a serious matter. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, raised the point, among many others, that no case has ever reached the courts. That is because these experiments are being permitted. The people who are conducting them are not doing so against the law.

To me, therefore, the whole debate—I want to finish in a few minutes, but not just yet, on that note—shows the necessity for a new Act to replace completely the old 1876 Act, good though it was, in order to bring our thinking up to date. Above all, it requires a different kind of committee, which is prepared to sit regularly and, may I say, to be paid for it, if necessary, because the days when many wealthy people had plenty of time to spend on these matters are perhaps not over but are getting fewer and fewer. The committee must meet at regular intervals and, apart from matters referred to it, it should of its own initiative be considering all kinds of cases—how big the cages should be that the monkeys are kept in or, for that matter, beagles; should experiments be conducted for purely cosmetic purposes; can you separate cosmetics from the medicinal in every case?

These are very difficult matters. In spite of the strongly held views which have been declared in what I have been saying, the reason why I cannot give my wholehearted support to this Bill is because it involves definitions which cannot be made. It involves legislating on matters of biology, which is usually an impossible task. The only solution to questions as difficult as these—each and every case is different—is to have a regular meeting of a high-powered committee which can consider every aspect of the case on its own merits. I should hate to reject this Bill, and if it is your Lordships' wish that it goes through its Second Reading and on to the Committee stage, I should be quite happy. Nevertheless, while it is interesting legislation, it does not incorporate one-tenth or even one-hundredth of the things which I think are necessary, and I feel that I should probably abstain from voting.

I would end by pointing out to your Lordships, and above all to the Home Office, that almost every speaker was unanimous, although perhaps the intentions of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, were not quite clear, in wanting new con- sideration of the old 1876 Act almost certainly leading to new legislation. A Select Committee or a Royal Commission is not good enough: they would merely be delaying procedures. All the facts are known. Will the Home Office now start its new 1976 Bill to replace the 1876 Act?

1.55 p.m.


My Lords, I would not disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Platt, about the new legislation which he considers necessary for the proper administration of the 1876 Act. But what is contemplated by this Bill would not interfere with that in the least degree. We are considering a much more limited problem; that is, whether experiments of this kind for the purpose of testing cosmetics ought to continue. My noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich has said that these tests are necessary in order to protect the public, particularly children. Several speakers have emphasised that. He also brought in by way of analogy the fact that testing is required in the case of food additives. I entirely disagree with these propositions. It is not necessary to have these tests in order to protect the public, because the proposition that underlies this is that manufacturers are entitled to put upon the market food additives and cosmetics as they please. If the facilities for making such tests are not available, then the manufacturers are absolved from all evil consequences which may follow. I disagree with that proposition. It is not correct.

We have no need for any more cosmetics to be put on the market. The variety which is already available is enormous, and the constituents which are already known and approved can be recombined in so many different ways, if a slight variety is required. The public will not suffer if one of the results of this Bill is that the number of cosmetics will be diminished. It is not right to suggest that people are entitled to put poisonous substances on the market without taking adequate precautions to protect the public. It is their business to take precautions. It is not the business of the State to provide them with facilities for making tests on living animals, which are intrinsically repugnant to the feelings of all thoughtful and humane people.

1.57 p.m.


My Lords, I should first like to thank all noble Lords who have participated in the debate. At certain stages I began to say a small prayer, "Who needs enemies when you have friends like some ", as noble Lords rose and gave the Bill a welcome and then proceeded to say why they did not like it. But I cordially thank all those who have given it an unreserved welcome, particularly the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester. As one who also tries to be a Christian, I thought what he said epitomised what we all thought and were talking about—the reverence for life.

The noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Barloch, has so splendidly come in with the very point with which I was going to start. I reject at once the fact that you cannot have a definition. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, has today produced a splendid definition. I have had a spell in Government, as have many of your Lordships, and I know that if you want to block the passage of any Bill you have all sorts of splendid ways of doing it—by referring it to a Select Committee or a Royal Commission, or saying that it is not needed or is badly drafted. In fact, all Bills appear to be badly drafted, including those which come from the Government; otherwise, we should not need to have so many Amendments moved in the later stages. So I reject all these arguments—I have heard them all before—about ambiguity and bad draftsmanship. If the will is there, all these things can be dealt with. I have been long enough in your Lordships' House to see legislation that goes through in 24 hours when it is felt that there is a need to have it, and there is good will behind it.

I thought that noble Lords on the Front Bench had terrible briefs; there was one of the worst I have ever heard read. The noble Lord gave a very strange and confused example. I still say, in the presence of these eminent scientists, that it must be virtually impossible, by performing an experiment on an animal, to discover whether a woman using a cream will develop an allergy to it. An allergy is a very confused and mystifying subject in itself. It seems to me that you would have to perform experiments on innumerable animals, and at the end of the day you still would not have the answer as to whether somebody was going to develop an allergy. May I cite a personal example. I bought some ear rims, to which I was obviously allergic, but how could I claim against anybody? Could they have been put on to a little animal and tested?

The noble Earl said that he did not mind what had happened to the rats happening to him, but I can only suggest that there is one slight difference; he had a choice, the rats did not. This is partly what this sort of experiment is about. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, produced excellent evidence that it is quite possible to have the regulations, to have the definition and very clearly to decide that a shampoo which is described as a "medicated shampoo" will probably—and almost certainly—be regarded as part of a medical product. I think we are making quite unnecessary difficulties.

The noble Lord, Lord Elton, seemed to me to give what I call a very reserved welcome; and I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that it is unusual to have a declaration of intent from the Minister early in the progress of the Bill. Probably it has only stimulated some of us to say a little more. I thought the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, of the talcum powder and the babies was not a good one, since he himself said that it was a mistake in the factory. It would have been tested much earlier, so I suggest that the mistake in the factory would not have been discovered by tests on animals. That was a mistake in the factory.

We hear so much about consumer protection and the necessity to protect the public. Is there anybody who can stand up and tell me that there has never been a case in law brought by an individual against a firm making cosmetic products? It would not be true to say that. The products have presumably been tested and I would say that the protection—and one noble Lord has made this point—is purely a legal one. If there is a case they can say that they have done all that it is possible to do and therefore they are absolved from blame.

I appreciate that this is piecemeal legislation. That is another argument which I have heard so often. But as was so rightly said, for 10 years nothing has been done. I know that we are in Europe and harmonisation is taking place, but may I say this to your Lordships: Time is not on the side of the little animals. While we sit here and debate and defer, the same tests continue without any real investigation. The noble Lord, Lord Platt, wants something different. May I say to him that if we accept this Bill, what he said about the Committee may well be one of its results. We can change the definitions, we can change the Title. Your Lordships know that we can change anything, except the genesis of the thought behind the Bill. I thank those who have taken part in this debate.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House