HL Deb 22 February 1977 vol 380 cc13-85

3.1 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I shall be brief because we have a long list of speakers and I shall have the opportunity of replying at the end of the debate. The Bill itself is self-explanatory. It has only one cause and effect—and I will take from the Long Title the words: An Act to restrict certain experiments on animals. I am very grateful to all noble Lords who are taking part in the debate—taking up a truly Christian attitude, even to those who are going to oppose me. I should particularly like to express appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest, who has come a long way especially to make his maiden speech on this occasion. I am also grateful to the Research Defence Society and my friends in the cosmetics industry (I do have some) who have given me a statement of their case.

Today is animals' day. I think last Wednesday was people's day. Indeed, this is Animal Year, and I am sure that all your Lordships will recognise that people do care about animals. The recent plight of stranded cattle, the release of the beagle dogs just before Christmas, show that when people know about these situations they call for action. I have received, and continue to receive, hundreds of letters on this Bill. They are splendid letters, mainly from women but not entirely, and I would say to the cosmetics industry "Please note". In addition, I have had hundreds of thousands of signatures to a petition so weighty that I am unable to bring it into the Chamber. A letter I received today was typical. It came from the nursing staff and the members of the college of remedial gymnasts and therapy at a hospital in Wakefield. I have heard from doctors, chemists, consumers, and from all kinds of people.

The Bill originally, as your Lordships will remember, came before the House in June 1975, and bearing in mind, as befits a humble Back Bencher, the criticism of the Government spokesman at the time when he said that the Bill would not achieve the object sought, I have waited to see whether Her Majesty's Government would introduce their own legislation—as in the case of the Endangered Species Bill which noble Lords will remember was originally introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, and his own tenacity was finally rewarded. However, so far there has been no move in an area where all agree that the existing law is somewhat out of date, to say the least. Therefore, the Bill comes before the House in the same form as before. Having re-read the previous Second Reading debate in Hansard, I suspect that the arguments deployed today also will be the same.

Therefore, the starting point seems to be quite reasonably the question: Is the Bill needed? No one has denied that vast numbers of animals are used for testing. I am not going to put forward a figure, as several organisations have come up with different figures, but I think that the cosmetics industry itself suggests 50,000 animals, or 1 per cent. of the total of animals used for experiments. Speaking today on a BBC programme, a doctor from the industry said that pain was present but that it was not the same level of pain as humans experience. I am paraphrasing. I think I can reasonably ask:"How does he know"?

There are alternatives, and these will not be looked at while scientists can use animals. Dare I suggest that scientists, like most people, are fairly conservative? I notice that the Research Defence Society in no way attempts to defend all animal experiments. It says: The Society is entirely in favour of 'alternative means' to animal experiments being developed as widely as possible and it contributes to the cost of research in this field. It then goes on: But it necessarily takes the strongest exception to unscientific intervention in this very sophisticated area. I reject at once this arrogant concept. I think I have every right, as an unscientific individual, to intervene in this sophisticated area.

The basic purpose of experimentation is to reproduce the human condition in the animal model. Again I am quoting from those who are dealing in this sphere of research defence. The other, as in the case of lipstick, for example, is that small quantities of the product are absorbed over a substantial time. I think we all know the kind of research that can produce any known result. Any substance, if administered in large enough doses, will kill. If any of us ate enough safety pins, or swallowed pots of paint, presumably we should die. I am not quite sure what, or who, would be benefited by that piece of research.

Much has been made of the argument for safety. May I again quote the Research Defence Society: The present legal position of safety testing of cosmetics in Britain is not precisely defined. Exactly. It is certainly only related, so far as I can see—and I have done my homework—to products having a therapeutic claim. I recall that on a previous occasion the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, referred to toxicity in relation to a cosmetic product. Particularly can I say to the women who buy the cosmetics, is it not reasonable to ask for cosmetic products which do not contain toxic ingredients, such as we already have marketed under Beauty Without Cruelty and other firms? There are scores of well-tried basic ingredients already available. Do we need more? In any case, if a cosmetic makes a therapeutic claim, then it can continue to be dealt with under the Act as at present administered. Incidentally, I have obtained a copy of the Draft Directive of the EEC in this connection. It gives a definition of cosmetic products. This was a question debated at some length last time.

May I also mention that since, I understand, VAT is chargeable on cosmetics but not on medicines, a definition must surely be available within the Treasury. It is always significant that if money is to be extracted there can be a clear line of demarcation. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, last time supplied us with a very good definition of a cosmetic, and I hope that this time we are not going to hear anything about that.

I note that reference has again been made to products sold which proved unsafe when used, and that animal tests had not been carried out. In reply to this I can only ask whether tests on animals were carried out for the talcum powder which was found to be dangerous to little children in France not very long ago. I still assert that allergies can be established only when the individual who uses the product has tried it out on himself, or herself, and luckily very few people are allergic to all products. I appreciate the point made, that even if my Bill becomes law it will still be possible for experiments to be carried out on animals for cosmetic products made in other countries (although there are some countries where alternative testing must be done), but why do the British manufacturers not appreciate that women are already asking me for the name of cosmetics for which animal testing is not carried out?

Just after Christmas I went with my two-year-old twin grandchildren to the Beatrix Potter exhibition and I listened again to the enchanting stories of Mrs.Rabbit and marvelled once again at the ambivalent attitude of society to animals. Poor Mrs.Rabbit! She may be lovely between the pages of Beatrix Potter—but she may be more unfortunate if she is available for testing. All human life has dignity. If we are to use the animal, it must be for a purpose for which no alternative is possible. I beg to move.

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

3.11 p.m.

The Earl of HALSBURY rose to move, as an Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading, to leave out ("now") and at end to insert ("this day six months"). The noble Earl said: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, having proposed her Motion, in rising to move this Amendment, I have the unenviable task of setting about its rejection in a manner which will leave the House in no doubt that there will probably be a Division on the Motion for the Second Reading. It is a graceless business that I undertake; nobody would want to reject a proposal which obviously has its basis in goodheartedness. I have three purposes, however. First, I must do what I have just said, reject what I consider to be a wrong-headed piece of legislation, however goodhearted its intention. I want, secondly, to save your Lordships' time on the further stages of the Bill because, unless the Home Secretary has changed his mind since we last debated exactly the same Bill six months ago, we shall be told by the Government that they cannot make time available or give support or facilities for the further passage of the Bill, which means that it will not pass.

In that case, would we not do better to save whatever time we have to debate the Littlewood Report of years gone by but which has never had a proper treating in either House, or some of the anomalies latent in circumstances where the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 and the Protection of Animals Act 1911 cover the same territory in somewhat anomalous terms in such a way as to inflict injustice on the individuals concerned? My third reason is that once more I see medical science being placed between the hammer of the human and environmental protection lobby on the one hand and the anvil of the animal protection lobby on the other, and it is my task, as the President of the Research Defence Society, to do everything I can to extract it from that position.

I will not make the kind of set speech which I made in the last debate, well constructed on Aristotelian principles and so on; I intend to try to debate this matter by answering some of the questions that were left unanswered then. Both this debate and the previous one have a background. In the last debate the background was a large-scale propaganda campaign mounted by the anti-vivisectionist movement related to the number of animals used in cosmetic testing, and in this debate we must add a further piece of background, namely last Saturday's "Horizon" programme, which I hope as many of your Lordships as possible saw as part of the homework for this debate.

On the last occasion, as to the usage of animals for cosmetic purposes, wild figures were put forward, anything from 1 million to 3 million out of the 5-plus million that occur in the Home Office reports. Wisely, Lady Phillips, both then and now, did not tie herself down to any particular figure, although the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, quoted 1 million as a figure he had seen, but he took no responsibility for its accuracy. Since our last debate I have been doing my homework. I have to some extent mobilised the cosmetical folk to operate through their trade federation to find out how many animals they use. A first figure of 50,000 was put forward, but they have subsequently reduced it to an upper limit of 30,000, so the whole battery of this propaganda has been concentrated on either 1 per cent., if one takes the figure of 50,000 mentioned by the noble Baroness, or 30,000, the figure I am working on; about one-half of 1 per cent. of the 5 million animals used.

The "Horizon" programme was a first-class piece of television journalism—balanced and fair in all respects—but in my view it gave insufficient emphasis to three points which I would like to put before your Lordships because I believe there has been some misunderstanding about them in the past. The first is the formidable character of the Home Secretary's power to cancel a licence. For the employee in industry who had his licence withdrawn it would in effect involve complete loss of customary livelihood. He might get another job, but it would not be his customary one, and in a university with tenure it would involve complete blockage of promotion because a person could not go on doing research.

It is often said that there must be something "phoney" about the fact that 100 years have passed without a prosecution under this Act, but in fact there have been three: two of them resulted in an acquittal, and in the third there was a conviction on a technical point not involving an animal. The reason why the Act has not been broken is that the whole of the animal experimentation personnel are most anxious to co-operate with the Home Office; they are not prepared to run any risk of having their licences taken away, and your Lordships should be aware of that point. Secondly, I do not think sufficient emphasis was put on the way in which the economics here work in favour of minimising the number of animals used, and I shall come back to that point later.

Thirdly, I think there was some misunderstanding about the statistics they gave. I could not write them down at dictation speed because they took me by surprise, but the figures given were: for Government use, 950,000; medicine, I think 950,000, making 1,900,000, leaving a total unaccounted for, commercial, of 3,300,000, but that is partly based on a misunderstanding of what one means by "commercial". Insulin is made commercially and has to be tested by the use of animals, and 800,000 animals are used in industry which makes insulin simply for the purpose of standardising insulin, which would be a most dangerous drug if it were not properly standardised. Thus, one has to transfer 800,000 out of one category and into another, whereupon one finds that the accounted for comes to 2,700,000 and the unaccounted for comes to 2,500,000.

Then the LD 50 test. I find that whereas we took up a lot of time when we last debated this issue, it is barely used at all in the cosmetic industry; they use what is called a limit test. A limit test asks this question: what is the largest part of, let us say, cold cream which the smallest child is capable of manipulating that it could swallow at a go? What is that as a percentage of its body weight? One then feeds that percentage of body weight to a suitably selected batch of animals, and if they survive it and nothing happens then that drug is regarded as safe. There are a few LD 50 tests done, it is thought with an upper figure of about 200 for the industry as a whole per annum.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether he knows of any authenticated case of a child swallowing a pot of cold cream?

The Earl of HALSBURY

No, I think it most unlikely, my Lords. I said "let us say," but I must add—I shall come back to this later—that there is some difficulty in knowing whether lipstick is what we are talking about or a foodstuff, because lipstick can be traced through the human body and it is generally believed that the greater part of it is in fact ingested and swallowed, and children are brought into hospitals having eaten mother's lipstick and so on.

The last point left unanswered from our previous debate—it sounds rather like something from Agatha Christie—was the case of the noble Baroness's ear rings, and this is what Lady Phillips said: I bought some earrings, 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?"—[Official Report, 27/6/75; col. 1762.] If the suspensory part of the ear ring was made of gold or silver, I would doubt whether there was any direct connection between that and the allergy, but if, as might easily have been the case, it was a nickel containing alloy, then nickel allergies have been established because people have to work with nickel. In the context of their work, nickel allergies have been proved on animals. The reason that allergy is such an elusive thing is that it depends upon the life history of the individual and on prior exposure and sensitisation to what are called allergens. But, if the phenomenon of allergy is a little less mysterious than the noble Baroness suggested in her last speech, it is because there are animals which are much more sensitive to allergies than are human beings. Rabbits are an example. All we know about allergies is derived from experiments on animals.


My Lords, since the noble Earl has introduced this point, may I say that, when I purchased my earrings, nobody pointed out that because they were nickel and because they had a certain kind of spray on them I was liable to be allergic to them. So what was the point of the test if nobody told me when I bought the earrings?

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, if we want to extend the Consumer Protection Act to saying that jewellery must be tested for allergy in animals, we can do so, but it will be a pretty lengthy business. However, I shall come back to this question of consumer protection later.

On the general point of the excessive use of animals, this must be discussed in the context of the inspectorate. I believe that there is some misunderstanding here which I want to clear up. The 14 inspectors employed by the Home Office do not have to inspect 5 million experiments one by one, each of which is of a different character; they have to inspect 600 establishments, each one of which is carrying out a relatively small number of procedures on a relatively large number of animals. But 90 per cent. of the animals involved are located in 10 per cent. of the establishments, so 90 per cent. of the inspectors' work is involved in visiting 60 establishments. The Institute of Cancer Research, of which I am the chairman, uses 130,000 animals yearly—mostly murines. That is about 2½ per cent. of the 5 million reported to the Home Office. I can vouch from my own experience of our work that those that we use are covered, effectively, by about 10 to 20 standard procedures, agreed with the Home Office in advance and never varied, because to vary them would destroy the comparability between one experiment and another.

As to the definition of cosmetics, which is what this debate is about, I do not know whether the EEC Directive provides a good definition; I do not know whether the definition of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, is a good one. But the illustration I have used—that of lipstick—I think shows one of the difficulties. A hair dye is a dyestuff. If it is a hair dye, it is also a leather dye and it may be used in inks, in paints, in textiles and foods. Hair dye may be only one use What about the factory personnel who handle these dyes during the course of manufacture? Currently, a large number of new, so-called "permanent" hair dyes are under suspicion as bacterial mutagens; that is to say, they induct the formation of new species of bacteria. This has two dangers. First, the natural bacterial flora of the human scalp can mutate into pathogens. Secondly, mutagens are always high on the suspect list for carcinogenesis. It is not a 100 per cent. correlation, but it is about a 90 per cent. correlation and probably if, under the Consumer Protection Act, one went into a supermarket, the most dangerous things one would find on the shelves would be tobacco products, on the one hand, and hair dyes, on the other.

What is involved in testing a material for carcinogenesis? One makes a solution of it, takes a paint brush and splashes is across an appropriate portion of the skin of a mouse, and then waits for the greater part of the life cycle of the mouse to see whether a tumour develops. If it develops, one kills the mouse and does an autopsy. Do not let us fall into the trap of thinking that mice would be immortal if there were no scientists who used them for experimental purposes: they have to die, like the rest of us, sooner or later. Nobody will keep the tumour going in the mouse for longer than necessary to establish its nature.

I now come to the control of compassion by the economy of the process. A mouse costs, at the point when we have used it, on an average, £1 in direct expenditure. Add overheads and it is £1.50. With 130,000 of these animals in use, I have to find £200,000 a year to finance the utilisation of animals in cancer research. That is about 10 per cent. of our total expenditure. We have to get it out of the Medical Research Council, which is itself short of money. On a project grant, the cost of the animals is included in the grant. The Medical Research Council refers it to assessors to see whether they can suggest cheaper ways of doing it. The first thing they look at is the number of animals we use. Of course, we try to cut it down because the smaller the number of animals the better the chance of our grant getting through. The Medical Research Council tries to cut it down because the cost will be less. We would always use alternative methods if they were available and could be used. With the greatest respect to the noble Baroness, she is quite wrong in saying that scientists will not use alternative methods as long as they are given access to animals. At the Institute of Cancer Research, we have both types of research going on side by side. We are asked why we do not grow human breast cancer tissue—carcinoma of the breast—in tissue culture. The answer is that it will not grow; it will only grow as a graft in an immune-deprived mouse and that is why we have to do this.

Dealing with other Acts which might come into collision with this, there is the Pharmacy and Poison Act 1933, the Diseases of Animals Act 1950, the Agriculture and Poisonous Substances Act 1952, the Food and Drugs Act 1955, the Consumer Protection Act 1961, the Medicines Act 1968, and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Also, we are now subject to the EEC Directive of 27th July last, requiring us to homogenise our legislation on the safety of cosmetics and to bring the introduction of new cosmetics into line with the regulations covering the introduction of new drugs.

How can we, with any sense of responsibility, allow Bills to pass when their effect, on the one hand, will be to make it impossible for us to co-operate effectively with our partners in Europe and, on the other, will deny the courts in this country access to evidence in a civil action for tort arising out of the provisions of some of these Acts in our already existing legislation? We must not place Her Majesty's subjects in a position where what one Act enjoins another forbids. I have never questioned the good-heartedness of the noble Baroness, but this Bill expresses the wrong-headedness of the animal lobby whose spokesman she is. I beg to move.

Moved, as an Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading, to leave out ("now") and at end to insert ("this day six months").—(The Earl of Halsbury.)

3.29 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to welcome the Bill from these Benches for three reasons. The first is that I believe that this is another attempt to re-examine the state of the law on experiments on live animals; the second is that it gives another opportunity to call attention to a matter which gives rise to public concern; the third is that it provides an opportunity to review some of the basic arguments. Many of your Lordships who are taking part in the debate today will feel, as I do, that there is a certain predictability about the nature of the arguments themselves because we appear to be confronted with two irreconcilables—the public need for protection against drug hazard and the use of animals for research to satisfy this need because no suitable alternative exists.

I speak as a layman rather in the same tone as the noble Baroness, though from another Bench. I am not a scientist well acquainted, as is the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, with pathogens, carcinogens and mutagens. Nevertheless, I have also taken the trouble to do my homework in, I hope, some detail, and I should like to suggest, even at this early point in the debate, that these two irreconcilables are not perhaps without a third alternative. On the last occasion when we discussed the Bill, on 27th June 1975, the question of tissue organ and cell cultures was raised, but not in any great detail. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, referred to it once in his reply, and I would further like to add to these alternatives much more sophisticated computer techniques which involve a mathematical process.

I am well aware that there are certain circumstances in which a live animal is to be preferred to either cell tissue or organ culture. Nevertheless, I return again and again to the Littlewood Report and to that very important paragraph, No. 237. I make no apology for quoting it because I believe that it is concerned with one of the basic problems here. It says this: As regards public acceptance of what is done, we think it right to draw attention to three major questions which were put to us by several critics of the present scale of animal experimentation:—

  1. (1) Who can say whether, if certain biological tests were forbidden, satisfactory chemical or other methods of testing would not be developed?
  2. (2) Who is responsible for establishing whether modern medical techniques, with their emphasis on immunology and drug therapy both of which are inseparable from animal experimentation, are developing medical practice in the right direction?
  3. (3) Who is to take responsibility for moral or ethical judgment in the use of animals for experimental purposes as such?"
Those are three very leading arguments, three open questions; and I do not think they have ever been answered, either in this House or in another place. It was certainly not within the capacity of the Littlewood Committee to answer them because they left them as open questions. But I feel that one of the best tests of all is the test of public opinion, and I was particularly glad when the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester referred to this. The right reverend Prelate is not here this afternoon, but his brother, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Sheffield, is to speak later, and I hope that we may have some further encouragement from that direction. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester referred, as reported at column 1732 of the Official Report, of our debate of 27th June 1975, to the "Draize" methods of testing. He said that: 73 per cent. of the electorate disapproved of cosmetics and toilet preparations being tested on animals. That is an expression of public opinion, and one has to bear in mind at the same time all that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said about the very necessary protection against drug hazard. I read the noble Lord's speech over twice before coming to this Dispatch Box, and I recognise the very real dilemmas in which the Home Office is placed. But I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, was quite right when he suggested that the Advisory Committee should be more fully utilised than it is at present, and further that there are options open to the Home Secretary to cancel a licence. Here I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury; he referred to this very point this afternoon. Should the Home Secretary be able to examine this question in a little further detail, there are options at his hand which it would be possible to use. The Bill before us suggests closing one of those options, and it was the recommendation of the Little-wood Report that this option should not be taken. Nevertheless, in the way that the Committee worded their recommendation they did not totally close the option. They left it as a partially open matter.

This afternoon we will cover a very wide field, and I want to touch merely upon its periphery. I believe that there is a passive acceptance within the Home Office that the present system should very largely continue as it is. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, will be able to give a different view. Nevertheless, we have before us a Bill, and in the back of our minds the Report of the Littlewood Committee, which was set up in 1962 by my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor. The Committee reported in 1965, and as many of your Lordships will have found, by now aspects of the Report are considerably out of date, partially because the world of experimentation has become larger and partially because some of the conclusions reached are not entirely satisfactory.

I here refer to the question of publicity, because I believe that the Littlewood Report in its comments upon the publicity aspect did not know what we know now. The noble Baroness referred to the situation as it stood within recent months: the question of experiments on beagles; the question of certain other cases which were brought to public notice. Here is a very important factor. If the public had a greater knowledge of what was being carried out, there would undoubtedly be a far greater outcry, especially in regard to the LD 50 test. We listened with interest to the noble Earl's speech in regard to the LD 50 test this afternoon, and he assured your Lordships that it was used on rare occasions. I believe that this test is repugnant to many of your Lordships and to a very much wider public outside your Lordships' House. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester referred to it—


My Lords, may I make a point? I think that when the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, referred to the LD 50 test as being very rarely used, he qualified that by saying "in the cosmetic industry".


My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Platt, for saying that. Of course that is perfectly correct, and that is the context in which we are discussing the measure before us. I hope that I have not misled your Lordships in this regard, and I am grateful to the noble Lord for that advice.

I refer to the question of the Home Office returns in this field because we have seen a very substantial growth in recent years. The year which was drawn to our attention some time ago was 1972, when the total number of experiments performed under licence was 5,327,123. That was a total figure. Of those, 86 per cent. were performed without the use of an anaesthetic. I understand from the figures cautiously advanced today that that figure has now increased to well over 5½ million. We return once again to the question: Are these experiments really necessary? Again, I believe that there is a wide and growing body of opinion in this country which believes that a number of experiments are duplications and are unnecessary; they are not only duplications of the same research in separate commercial establishments but, further, duplications in batch numbers of specific goods.

My Lords, I accept the fact that the figures are to some extent misleading because we are dealing here with what is said to be 1 per cent. of the total of experimentation. Nevertheless, I believe that even if just one unnecessary experiment in this field is carried out, it is to be deplored. My Lords, I have spoken often enough on this subject, and I have addressed your Lordships many times on measures of a similar nature. I believe that this Bill deserves a Second Reading.

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to address your Lordships extremely briefly because we have a large number of noble Lords who wish to speak today. I should like to start by saying that I entirely support the Amendment which has been moved by the noble Earl. The number of experiments performed upon animals from a purely cosmetic point of view—I am not going to muddle it up with the medical point of view—is extremely small. It is about 1 per cent. of the total. This really comes down to what we mean by an experiment. You can have a very mild, simple, innocuous experiment, which is what the bulk of those for cosmetics are, or you can have the rather terrifying ones, of which one sees photographs and examples, which are extremely uncommon, although the photographs of them may be quite common.

The Research Defence Society believes, quite properly, that any substance which is going to be used widely for a cosmetic must be tested, and that the need is that that test should be a decisive test. Poisoning by a non-medical substance, I am bound to say, does occur from time to time, particularly in the case of children who eat or drink things which are not intended to be devoured but which they find lying about. I think that if you are going to insist that every adult woman must be so careful of her cosmetics that no child can possibly gain access to them unnecessarily, you are really asking for more than can be expected. The number of children admitted to hospital last year suffering from some ill-effects from taking a cosmetic was about 10,000, none of which, I am pleased to say, was fatal. That shows that the testing which had been done before these drugs appeared on the market had been done to some good purpose.

Quite a number of experiments are made upon human beings, particularly as regards hair and skin. I think that if we were to make things more difficult for this limited number of experiments to be carried out in this country then more would be done in foreign countries, and I think it would be found, probably, that the standards of care required of the experimenter there would not be so high as those demanded in this country. One can see where things go wrong because, to come back to the thalidomide trouble, one wonders whether, if tests had been made on pregnant mice, pregnant guinea pigs or whatever was the animal in question, the trouble with thalidomide might have been discovered earlier and the large number of children who were born disabled would not have been so born.


My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me? I should like to ask him a direct question. Was this drug, or was it not, tested on animals?


My Lords, it was tested on animals but, so far as I know, it was not very thoroughly tested on pregnant animals, which is the point I was trying to make.

My Lords, I first became interested in this subject because of the terrible experiences which occurred in the United States of America during the First World War.

It is all a very long time ago now, but it made one realise then that there was a need to be careful. A certain number of girls were employed in painting watches with luminous radioactive paint so that they could be seen at night. Because there was thought to be no danger in this paint, the girls moistened their brushes with their lips and with their tongues before they applied the paint, which I think is something we all did with normal paint when we were children. As a result of that, because there had been no prior testing of this paint, every one of those young women—and, luckily, there were not a great many of them—developed incurable, intractible, painful cancer of the mouth or tongue, or somewhere in their upper extremity, and they all died of it. It was realised, once the first few had developed this disease, that those who had not developed it quite so soon would do so in time, and they lived waiting for this terrible fate to befall them. That, I think, was one of the first things to come my way that made me see that we have to be extremely careful to make tests whereever we can, so as to be sure that things do not go wrong again.

My Lords, the final point I should like to make is this. It is said that pet dogs and cats get stolen by the experimenters for use in their experiments. This, I think, is extremely improbable, because the kind of animals which are used for experiments of the kind we are talking about have to be bred, and they come from stock. They do not come from the odd dog or the odd cat which is picked up in the streets, or from the odd mouse. So, as your Lordships will have gathered from the short speech I have made, quoting a few points which back up what the noble Earl has said, I personally shall vote for the noble Earl's Amendment.

3.47 p.m.

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

My Lords, as a number of speakers have pointed out, this is the second occasion in the last two years when we have had the opportunity to discuss this matter, on both occasions on Bills introduced by my noble friend Lady Phillips. We are dealing here with the balance—and it is certainly a difficult one—between the needs of medical science, on one side, and the discharge of our responsibilities towards animals, on the other. It is not the Government's view that this balance can ever be properly set by a single system, by an immutable set of guidelines. It needs to be constantly examined and, if changes are found to be necessary, they must certainly be made. I hope that what I have to say later in my speech will convince the House that the Government are prepared to do this. Nevertheless, I must begin by dealing with the proposals which are set out in my noble friend's Bill, and on this I must make it perfectly clear at the outset that our position has in no way changed since we last debated this issue. The Government do not believe the changes proposed in this Bill to be either necessary or desirable.

The purpose of this Bill is to make it a criminal offence to undertake certain research involving animals—research which has been lawful for a hundred years. Before we take such a step it seems to me that we require to be satisfied that there is involved a problem of such a grave character that the criminal law should be changed in this way. The Government do not believe that any such case has been made out. The case against cosmetic testing on animals—and, like my noble friend, I too listened to the programme on the radio this morning, when this matter was discussed—appears to be that animals should not be made to suffer for what is described as a frivolous purpose.

It may be argued by some that cosmetics may generally serve a frivolous purpose—although I would by no means accept such a statement without substantial reservations. But whatever our views may be on this, their testing, as opposed to their normal use, serves a serious and important purpose: the prevention of avoidable hazards to health. These hazards are not run only by the women, and men, who use cosmetic preparations of various kinds. As has been pointed out, they are run by children who may swallow them accidentally, by the staff who may administer them professionally in hairdressers and beauty salons, and also by those involved in their manufacture. I believe it is essential to establish from the outset that the safety-testing of any substance, whatever the ultimate use of that substance, is of fundamental importance.

The different situations I have described all require that substances should not be in use which, because they have not been adequately tested, may have potential for causing serious and unsuspected harm. The prevention of damage of this kind is the purpose of legislation in this country and abroad, the provisions of which are increasingly being strengthened by EEC Directives, one of which deals specifically with cosmetics. My noble friend mentioned this in her speech and I think it is not without importance.

The EEC Directive of 27th July 1976 makes explicit requirements about safety-testing. Article 2 of the Directive reads: Cosmetic products put on the market within the Community must not be liable to cause damage to human health when they are applied under normal conditions of use. Article 3 of the same Directive reads: Member States shall take all necessary measures to ensure that only cosmetic products which conform to the provisions of this Directive and its Annexes may be put on the market. That is an obligation on this country. I would accept that neither the Directive nor the Annexes to it require the use of live animals in tests; but it is the blunt truth that in some cases animals simply have to be used if safety is to be guaranteed. I believe, and I must make it clear, that if this Bill were to go on to the Statute Book, the United Kingdom would be in breach of its international obligations.

Against this, it is argued that existing cosmetics have already been tested, that there is no need for more, and that the use of animals for this purpose only helps to swell the profits of the manufacturers. I do not believe that this argument is soundly based. If we believe that no new cosmetics should be made, and are prepared to make it a criminal offence to do so, that would at least be logical. But I find it impossible to believe that Parliament would ever agree to take such action. That being so, new cosmetics will continue to appear. And if they appear they must be properly tested. In our view it is not only new substances that need testing. Existing substances continue to come under suspicion from time to time—and the noble Earl gave an example—and have to be re-tested. And a new formulation of ingredients which have themselves been tested may still need fresh examination.

It is, of course, perfectly true that most ingredients and formulations have already been tested, and this is why many major manufacturers are able to dispense with animal testing in this field; and this has been mentioned. The fact is that, despite exaggerated claims to the contrary, the number of animals used for cosmetic testing is relatively small. The Research Defence Society's estimate is that the annual number may be about 50,000. Although the Government certainly have no way by which they can establish a precise figure, it is our view that this assessment of the volume of cosmetic tests is substantially accurate and that therefore we are talking about a relatively small problem. However, even if the scale of what is involved is relatively small, it remains an important safeguard in this area. The safety-testing of cosmetics is indistinguishable from the safety-testing of any other substances, whether a drug, a pesticide or an industrial or a household product. The Government believe it would be fundamentally wrong to make it a criminal offence—and that is what we are talking about—to undertake the safety-testing of any product, whatever its character.


My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves the point of the EEC Directive—and it is important—would he give a clear example of testing that has to be done on animals? He has not yet done so. He made the point that the Directive does not require—and I have studied it—that experiments must be carried out on animals. Would he explain which of the Directives would not be fulfilled unless there were tests on animals?


My Lords, with respect, I have answered that point. I made it clear. If my noble friend looks at my speech in Hansard she will see that the very point which she has just put to me has been answered in most specific terms. I agree that there is no reference in the Directive to an absolute requirement that animals should be used—I give my noble friend that point—but I am saying that the Government do not believe that they would be able to fulfil the requirements set out in the Directive if safety testing so far as animals were concerned was barred by Statute. That is the point. I would accept at once that my noble friend has, on this occasion as on the last, been inspired by a concern for the animals involved and by the desire (which we share) that their suffering should be limited so far as possible.

My Lords, I think we must ask ourselves this question. What is, in fact, the nature of that suffering? Safety testing of cosmetics takes three forms: eye-irritancy tests, tests of skin-reactions and LD 50 tests. In some of these tests, certainly in the first two categories, the suffering involved may be small or non-existent. If a substance proves not to be irritant, then even its application to the eye will cause minimal inconvenience. That must be so. I am not suggesting that in other cases serious suffering is not involved. I am well aware that it is. The point I am making is that cosmetic testing, as such, is in no way coterminous with suffering. This Bill would make a criminal offence of virtually painless treatments as well as of those which are painful.

My Lords, a further point to be borne in mind is that these procedures are far from being confined to cosmetic testing. They apply to all safety-testing of substances which may affect the eyes or skin, or be ingested, at any stage in their manufacture, distribution or use. The banning of cosmetic testing would reduce by only a small fraction the total number of these tests. If the tests cause unnecessary suffering, why ban them only in relation to cosmetics? It is in this respect that the Government believe that this Bill is misconceived. The ban in relation to cosmetics would be based on no principle which has any relevance to the actual pain and suffering which may be involved.

In the Government's view this objection to the Bill is fundamental. But there are other substantial difficulties about it. Let me touch for a moment on the question of definition. It has to be recognised that we are dealing here with substances which have a number of purposes. Soap, for example, is a cleansing and an antiseptic agent. The Bill would exclude from its effect substances which are intended for a medical purpose. Leaving aside the equally difficult question of what is a medical purpose, and how the experimenter is to know that the substance he is being asked to test is intended for such a purpose, substances used for cosmetics often serve purposes other than either cosmetic or medical. In the case of a substance which may be used for a number of purposes, what is the position to be? Will it be lawful if there is no cosmeticapplication, or if there is a cosmetic application and also a medical application, but unlawful if, no matter what other purposes may be served, there is a cosmetic use and no medical use? My Lords, I beleve that a requirement of this sort would create a nonsensical situation.

What we are talking about here is our criminal law. This law would have to be administered; and all I am saying is that with such imprecise definition—and I recognise immediately the difficulty in this area so far as those who drafted the Bill are concerned—it seems to me to raise the gravest difficulties. Let me add one final point. In fairness, it was touched on by my noble friend when she introduced the Bill. It is one of substantial importance. If this Bill is passed it would be most unlikely to reduce the total volume of animal suffering in any way. Its most likely effect would be to drive this form of testing outside this country where the controls are often a great deal less stringent than they are in this country.

My Lords, I have set out the serious objections of the Government to the proposals in this Bill. But I fully recognise the strength of feeling which lies behind it. And certainly the Government are just as concerned to eliminate any unnecessary suffering by animals as are the supporters of this Bill. Where we differ is that the Government do not believe that improvements can be effected by a stroke of the pen of this kind, but that they require a continuing effort to bring about improvements wherever that may be possible. The Government are determined to undertake a programme of this kind. And I should like now to take the opportunity to set this out.

First, we believe that the most important requirement for reviewing and improving the administration of this subject is to obtain a better quality of information than exists at the moment. In May 1975, when replying to a debate initiated by my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby, I undertook that the Annual Return of Experiments would be reviewed so as to provide more comprehensive and comprehensible information. I am glad to be able to tell the House today that this review is making good progress. A completely new return which licensees will be required to complete has been prepared, and is currently being tested on a sample of licensees. Subject to any changes that that test may show are necessary, it is our intention that the new return should be introduced generally at the end of this year. The information it produces will for the first time enable us to obtain a really detailed and comprehensive picture of all aspects of experimental work. If the timetable can be maintained—and I believe it will—the Annual Return for 1977 published in the summer of next year will be a far more informative document than any of its predecessors. When that is available, we shall be able to identify the areas which call for special attention and review.

Secondly, there is the question of the Advisory Committee. As the House will be aware, my noble friend Lord Houghton has taken the initiative of making wide-ranging proposals based on an extension of the functions of the Committee. These are ambitious proposals and my right honourable friend the Home Secretary does not believe that the Advisory Committee is a practicable medium for achieving a great deal of what is proposed. But at the same time, we believe that greater use should be made of the Committee. My noble friend Lord Houghton and the noble Lord, Lord Platt, together with a number of their colleagues, saw my right honourable friend last week and had—I hope it will be agreed—a helpful discussion. I am glad to be able to inform the House that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has now decided to ask the Advisory Committee, under the chairmanship of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross of Chelsea, to review the use of LD 50 tests. They will do this not only in relation to cosmetic testing, but in all the fields in which they are at present used. This will be a fairly complex review, but I am sure that your Lordships will recognise the importance of this proposal, and the direct bearing which the Committee's ultimate recommendations are likely to have on the suffering occasioned to animals by this procedure. The Government's view is that it is in this way, rather than by the method proposed in the Bill, that a reduction in any suffering of animals involved in experiments can be achieved.

My right honourable friend also made it clear to my noble friend Lord Houghton and his colleagues that there is no reason at all why the Advisory Committee should not be invited to turn its attention to other procedures which, in some quarters, give rise to concern. I understand that those who attended the meeting are now giving further thought to particular procedures to which the Committee could usefully direct its attention.

My Lords, I believe that this decision by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary represents an important step forward and that the LD 50 tests are the right place to begin. Let me say this in conclusion. There is no dispute between the Government and the supporters of this Bill over the desire to eliminate unnecessary suffering by animals. That is common ground. But we believe that the action that I have outlined today will hold out the best prospect of achieving this objective. The Bill before the House will not deal with many of the problems which cause the most serious anxiety. In our judgment, the Bill would be seriously damaging to the public interest. For that reason, the Government oppose it.

4.8 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of SHEFFIELD

My Lords, I am sure that all of us in the House are grateful to the Minister for the constructive steps which the Government have in mind and which he outlined at the end of his speech. This is a complex and highly specialised subject, and I claim no particular competence to deal with it. My speech might also be described, as one speech has already been described, as an unscientific intervention. I make no apology for that, for complex and specialised as this subject is, it is also a moral and social problem and it should not be left exclusively to the expert. Indeed, it should involve the interest and conscience of the whole community.

May I at the outset try to set out two principles from which I approach this problem. In the first place, I recognise the right to experiment on animals in the interests of medical research and human welfare generally. But, secondly, in pursuit of these objectives man has a duty to restrict the infliction of pain and suffering to an absolute minimum.

Somehow we must try to do justice to both of these principles. One of the general findings of the Littlewood Report states: Anyone who makes use of an animal in research incurs a moral responsibility to justify his action and a duty to limit pain. Behind this Bill, as I see it, lies the conviction that the use of animals for testing and developing cosmetic preparations which are not intended to be used for any medical purposes involves more pain and suffering than a reasonable view of human welfare can justify.

Studying the background to this Bill and trying to get to grips with the facts as best one can, I must confess it has been a distasteful experience, and sometimes even a horrifying and shameful one. Experiments are made by the tens of thousands. A number of speakers during the debate have indicated that only a relatively small number of cases are concerned in this particular area of the problem. It does not matter how few they are: they are either right or wrong, and such a decision cannot be taken on a numerical basis. However, there are enough experiments going on to make this a matter of public concern. We believe that such experiments entail a considerable degree of pain and suffering, and it is wrong that such trivial substances as bubble bath liquids, face creams, deodorants, shampoos and other toiletries should be tested on animals.

The extension of animal experiments to such an extent and in this direction surely was not foreseen when the Cruelty to Animals Act came into force a century ago. The law has served us well but it now needs some reform. Experiments for medical purposes that may well lead to an alleviation of suffering and the conquest of disease are legitimate and good, but even such experiments must be conducted with the fullest responsibility for the victims of the experiments. In the sphere of cosmetic preparations we believe that the use of animals should be excluded, and this Bill represents a modest step in that direction. If it is wrong-headed, we must make it right-headed. In Britain, as I understand it, it is mandatory to test only those cosmetics which make therapeutic claims or which contain more than a certain level of some specified substances such as hormones. The bulk of cosmetic poison testing using animals is carried out voluntarily and under no specific obligation except general legal requirements to market only safe products.

Reference has been made to the public opinion poll in 1974, which was apparently mentioned by the Bishop of Manchester on the occasion of the last debate. At that time 73 per cent. of the electorate disapproved of cosmetic preparations being tested on animals. I believe that a great deal of ignorance exists among people as a whole, who are very often surprised to hear that cosmetic products are tested on animals at all; but when that fact is understood there is a volume of opposition to the use of animals for this purpose. I fully recognise—and indeed the Minister has referred to it—that there is a difficult line of demarcation. In certain instances it is almost impossible to draw a line of demarcation between the medical and cosmetic fields. Certainly the line is not easy to draw, and there are borderline cases where cosmetic and medical purposes overlap. Some discoveries in the field of cosmetic science may prove to be beneficial in the medical field, and all that is part of the complexity of the subject. However, I should like to suggest that it must not deter us in our determination to bring about the highly desirable reform that this Bill is intended to effect.

I know, and in some ways suffer from the knowledge, that the whole subject is bedevilled by sentiment. Emotionalism is all too easily aroused. Those sentimentalists who care more for their cats than for their cousins should merit our scorn and our disapproval. Support for this Bill does not suggest any lack of opposition to such misguided enthusiasts, and I am certainly not impelled here by any particular animal lobby. However, the passing of this Bill may lead to further research on the development of alternative methods of testing. Even if it did not, would we really be any worse off? Is not the world more short of compassion than of cosmetics?

In conclusion, I should like to try to sketch briefly the underlying philosophy (if that is not too portentous a phrase, at any rate on my lips), which is the basis of my approach to this subject. Mankind has a trusteeship over the rest of the animal kingdom, and now that we are more sensitive about exploiting the natural resources of the environment I believe we need also to be more vigilant against human exploitation of other species; in other words, more aware of our trusteeship over the rest of the animal kingdom. Some enthusiasts speak of the rights of animals. I prefer to concentrate on the duties of man and of man's responsible dominion over Nature, which includes acting responsibly towards animals. Man has a responsibility for the whole of his environment. No other creature has the capacity to transform it for better or worse. Perhaps I might remind your Lordships of the words of Alexander Pope who wrote: The more entirely the inferior creation is submitted to our power, the more answerable we should seem for our mismanagement of it. My contention is that much experimentation in connection with cosmetic testing is a grave mismanagement of our responsibility of our human dominion over the rest of the animal kingdom. We are the species uniquely capable of rationality and moral choice; and precisely because of our superiority we have an obligation to treat animals with respect—yes, and with humanity. This Bill is a modest step towards fulfilling that obligation.

As a non-scientist, I confess I have a starry-eyed veneration for research scientists and especially for those scientists whose work lies in the medical field. Their objectivity and dedication are utterly praiseworthy. Nor are they lacking in compassion. One of the findings of the Littlewood Committee, which is one great source of encouragement, declared: There is no foundation for any general suspicion of the concern of the licensees for their animals. However, in a violent and cruel age, such as ours—an age marked by an alarming increase in torture—I believe we need to be specially vigilant to outlaw any unnecessary cruelty. Some experiments which this Bill seeks to prohibit must surely tend to blunt the sensibilities of those who conduct them. This Bill therefore will be a protection for those very scientists who themselves deplore experiments that involve the infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering upon dumb animals. There was a certain 19th century Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, Dr, Lloyd, who was himself a scientist, of whom it was said by Caroline Fox, the Quaker diarist, He looks at Science with the ardour of a lover and the reverence of a child. What a splendid description of the scientific spirit and outlook! I believe that this Bill will help to preserve the integrity of the genuine scientist, the scientist whose work is directed not towards satisfying vanity but to promoting the true welfare of mankind.

4.19 p.m.


My Lords, I find it distasteful to be in the position of opposing a Bill that has been introduced with such sensitivity and customary lucidity by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, but I should like to say right away that I am sure we are all concerned to prevent unjustifiable and avoidable suffering to animals. I entirely agree with the right reverend Prelate who has just sat down that, in his words, we should be specially vigilant to eliminate unnatural cruelty.

Many people would ban all experiments on animals, even though designed to avoid suffering by people. Some are motivated by religious conviction, not only in other countries; some by horror at the thought of causing innocent creatures to suffer. This Bill, however, implicitly recognises that animal experiments are in some cases justified, if they are genuinely needed to point the way to medical treatment of human beings, or to avoid the risk of harmful side-effects resulting from treatment. But this Bill would ban such experiments related to cosmetics and, as has been said, these are a very small proportion of the total number of experiments on animals. I agree entirely with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Sheffield, that that is no excuse if there is no justification for having such experiments at all. No unnecessary suffering should be caused.

I suppose that one should always try to reduce a Bill to its intellectual basis, and perhaps I might be permitted to do that in this way: Animal experiments for purposes that are inessential are unjustified; cosmetics—at least, new cosmetics—are inessential and, therefore, animal experiments for cosmetics, or at least new cosmetics, are not justified. That seems to be the basis for this Bill.

That animal experiments in relation to cosmetic preparations are in all cases not justified may well be doubted, and I am bound to say that I found what the noble Lord, Lord Harris, had to say on this matter convincing. For example, the use of cosmetics to conceal scars which embarrass the person affected, and also shock people who see them, seems desirable. That they should be safe is equally desirable. That the world should be satisfied at a given point in time with the cosmetics then available is a proposition that I find it difficult to sustain, if only because it may not always be possible to continue to produce cosmetics which have already been tested and adjudged safe. Established products need new formulations from time to time, and testing of them is also necessary.

The fact is that for centuries people have used cosmetics, that the present, more affluent, generation probably uses them more than ever before, and that, in all probability, generations to come will constantly be seeking new ways of beautifying themselves. But users rightly expect—nowadays more than ever—that they can do so safely. The law requires that cosmetic preparations, no less than other products offered to the public, should be safe to use and, so far as possible, safe when misused in ways most likely to happen; for example, by children. Even if this country were minded to apply the old doctrine of caveat emptor in the case of cosmetics, as a member of the EEC it would be prevented from doing so, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, has indicated.

How then do we ensure that cosmetics are safe? If that could be done satisfactorily in all cases by laboratory tests, whether of the microbiological character or otherwise, a Government would be rightly condemned if they continued to issue individual licences for the carrying out of tests on animals. But such tests are not yet accepted as convincing proof that the products are safe—not in all cases, at any rate. Some think that progress towards discovering forms of testing that would be accepted by the authorities as satisfactory alternatives to animal testing, would be hastened if, in the case of cosmetics, a ban were put on animal testing. But what would happen in the meantime? Presumably, practical testing would then have to be confined to experiments on human volunteers, unless, of course, they too were banned. Surely it is sensible to try out the product on animals first, lest it cause serious injury to human volunteers when used normally.

There was a case in the United States, that is often quoted, of shampoos which caused blindness in, I believe, the 1930s. That was a case which would probably not have arisen had animal testing then been carried out on the scale of today. Further, it seems reasonable to ensure that a product would do little or no harm if accidentally misused or swallowed. Experiments to indicate the appropriate treatment or remedy, when foreseeable accidents occur, also seem justifiable.

I entirely sumpathise with the noble Baroness in her contention that cruelty to animals should not be allowed. As I understand, it is the duty of those who grant licences for animal tests to satisfy themselves that there is no satisfactory alternative to animal testing, and that the testing will be carried out as humanely as possible. I very much welcome, as did the right reverend Prelate, the advances which the noble Lord, Lord Harris, has announced today. Before he spoke, I was going on to say that there will always be a minority who abuse licences. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Harris, will be able to tell us what is the incidence of abuses that are found in the course of Home Office inspections at the present time. There can be no doubt that, so far as the methods employed are concerned, the proposed changes in the annual report will be most helpful.

But I believe that licences are issued only to individuals who are qualified, and one must assume that both by disposition and by training they carry out their experiments as humanely and responsibly as anyone in this House would wish. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Sheffield said that there is here a moral and social problem which should not be left to the experts. But, inevitably, it is left to the experts, and has to be, subject always of course to the closest supervision of the Government which licence the experts. In this respect, I suggest that the Government are the keepers of the public conscience, although they are in turn supervised by Parliament.

If there is one thing that the British are known for it is surely kindness to animals. We are undoubtedly far more kindly disposed than folk in other countries, where experiments on animals are not only permitted but required. It would seem paradoxical, to say the least, if by passing this Bill we were to drive the practice of animal testing out of this country and into places where those carrying out the tests may well be less scrupulous and less humane. It is right to hope that, in the long run, science will advance sufficiently to enable experiments on animals to be dispensed with altogether. But I am bound to say that, from what the noble Lord, Lord Harris, has told us today, I have come to the conclusion that that time has not yet come.

4.29 p.m.


My Lords, this is a small, brief Bill, but it is one that can have great and unfortunate consequences. On first thought, it would seem acceptable to limit the use of animal experimentation to observations for medical purposes, but study of the problem shows that that is just not possible. I say again—and I repeat it forcefully and sincerely—that if it were possible to do away with animal observations on cosmetics, then most people would support such a move. But the matter is not as simple as that. Cosmetics are an ancient fact of life, and it is stated that in the United States 60,000 injuries a year and many deaths are caused by them. To combat this, a Bill is now before the United States Senate making it compulsory to submit each new cosmetic product to 19 separate tests on animals.

It is very unsatisfactory to allow unscientific intervention into such a complex situation. Without wishing to be disparaging or in any way offensive to good intentions, I suggest we could quite fairly describe these attempts at interference in complex and scientific matters as amateurish. The difficulties that this Bill can give rise to are not or do not seem to be appreciated by its sponsors. They do not give any impression that they are aware that the arguments against the Bill are many and real. These arguments emerge at once from an unprejudiced and systematic consideration of the whole subject.

Such an approach is essential to any proposal that existing legislation should be basically altered, especially when the altered legislation would have significant effects on the standards and practices that our new European partners are seeking to set up. It must be unwise at this very time to initiate legislation that would be unacceptable to our European partners and would set up a whole new series of difficulties as detailed by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. We come at once upon a matter that affects the European Community at large, but let us consider the intrinsic difficulties and drawbacks of the Bill.

It has been claimed that about 5 million experiments are done each year and it is implied that many of these could be prevented. This statement has gone unchallenged, but an accurate assessment of the number of animals used to test cosmetics in fact is from 30,000 to 50,000—less than one-tenth of the annual total of all experiments. One important firm, during 1975, used 3,000 animals for experimental observations, but also used 12,000 humans; so the animals were outnumbered four to one. In any case, observations could not be made on humans until the substances had been tested out on animals. It is a matter of common law by which manufacturers must not negligently injure the consumer.

Manufacturers would be negligent if they did not take appropriate steps to inform themselves on the safety of their products. Such action requires the use of animals. The animal testing involves no more discomfort than does vaccination against smallpox. Even the effects of the highly emotive eye test have been exaggerated. Only one eye is used and the material applied is not of full strength. In fact, it is so dilute that it causes no pain or suffering. Its chief effect is to produce a little redness of the eye.

If a child, misusing its mother's shampoo or other preparations, gets it into its eye the parents can be told, as things now are, with confidence that although the result may be painful and unpleasant there will be no danger at all to vision and no permanent effect.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord will forgive me, but is he giving scientific facts?

Several noble Lords: Order, order!


My Lords, I should like an answer to my question. As a nonscientific person I am asking the noble Lord whether he is saying that no matter how much shampoo a child puts in its eye, it could not damage it.


My Lords, there is no evidence at all, and no experience, that the eye can be permanently damaged by the introduction of shampoo. This Bill specifically forbids the making of any test in the course of development of a cosmetic preparation. In other words, it forbids any testing to find out whether a substance may be harmful or, for instance, cause blindness or permanent damage to vision. It is difficult to understand how such a proposal can be made seriously and, indeed, now a second time, the first being in 1975. I repeat, it is a first requirement to a basic legal protection of the user that, if he buys something, it should not be a dangerous substance and that he should know that it has been tested for safety.

A special problem exists in the dangers to children. Any cosmetic preparation should ordinarily be used by a sensible adult, but a child may be attracted by a substance that its mother uses and applies it to its skin, to its face, gets it into its eyes, or eats quantities of it. The National Poisons Information Service is fully informed of this problem and, since its inception in 1963, some 20,000 cases of poisoning have been dealt with, 800 of which involved children who had become involved with cosmetics. If a child swallows an ointment or a toothpaste, the parents are inevitably anxious and demand from the doctor what the effect may be. The doctor can provide an answer at once from the National Poisons Information Service, as it now is, but could no longer do so if no tests had been made on cosmetics to study the harmful effects.

As soon as the testing of cosmetic substances is prevented, the doors would be opened wide to all sorts of uncertainties and dangers. These will extend to food additives and to pesticides from which great harm could come, especially in the case of children. In any case, the sale of such untested substances would not be permitted in countries abroad, and firms wishing to market their products would have to satisfy the laws of the countries concerned, a fact that has already been emphasised by several speakers. It may be that the protection of animals from suffering would not be so effectively controlled as in Britain—another point that has been emphasised.

In effect, therefore, although at first sight this Bill appears to be acceptable and deserving of support, the true situation is very different. It would be a danger to health and even to life and it should not receive support. Furthermore, when it was introduced in 1975 the Government, via the Home Office, stated categorically that they would be "unable to assist in any way with further progress on the Bill", and the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, has repeated that intention. Reasons have been given by the Government for this, and I think that we should accept this decision.

4.37 p.m.


My Lords, it is sad for me to find myself opposing a Bill that has been moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, for whom I have the highest regard. I am also somewhat distressed to find that I agree entirely with the Government view, as expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. However, it is a great pleasure to be able to support the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury.

I can be very brief because the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, has said all that needs to be said about the Bill. What he has not said has been said by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, but there are one or two points that I might be able to underline because they cannot be repeated too often. First, it seems to me that the 1876 Act is remarkably good and that our forebears of one hundred years ago did a wonderfully good job. This has been borne out by the relatively controlled and not too harmful use of animals for testing in this country over the intervening years. In these days of non-discrimination, all that one can criticise the Act for is for giving a special place to dogs, cats, horses, asses and mules. One would have thought that there might be a Guinea-pig Self-discrimination Act which would put that at rest. Be that as it may, if this Act were properly implemented—and there has been a suggestion that perhaps the Home Office might be more energetic in this respect—it could provide all that is needed. From what the Minister said, I gained the impression that the Home Office is taking what might be called corrective action, or that it is planning to do so; so even that point is taken care of.

The point about the Bill is, I should have thought, that it is not consistent with the 1876 Act, in that it singles out a particular end product. I should have thought that that was not particularly sound law. The Act is comprehensive and covers all testing; it gets one around the problem of definitions, upon which the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, touched, and the fact that certain products may be used in certain ways at different times. That in its turn makes difficult the application of the law.

I should have thought the Bill was basically defective; but my first thought was to give it a run, give it a Second Reading and kill it after we had talked about it. But it seems to me that it is so fundamentally wrong that it would not be right even to give it a Second Reading. That is why I am behind the noble Earl and convinced by his arguments.

As to the question of the frivolity of cosmetics, my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn made the point and it seems to me to be beating against the wind in a most extraordinary fashion. However frivolously, people will always use cosmetics. The ancient tribes—our ancestors—put on woad; a large number of the primitive tribes of Central Africa use some sort of self-adornment and in the Western world there has been adornment, principally of women, since the beginning of recorded history. It seems to me to be a false try—if this is what is intended—to attempt to persuade people that cosmetics are wicked and therefore no special protection is required for them. Whatever we do, there will be girls who will use them; and we then come to the point that if they are going to use them they must be protected from the harmful results which have arisen—and which have been touched on by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn and other speakers—in other countries such as the United States of America, where great harm has been done to people who have used preparations, whether cosmetically or otherwise, which have not been properly tested. Therefore it seems to me that the argument is incontrovertible that it is irresponsible to try to pass into law a Bill of this kind. Therefore, if the noble Earl sees fit to take us into the Lobbies, I shall happily go with him.

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to be able to speak—and I shall be very brief—in support of this Bill. Much of what I was planning to say has already been said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Sheffield—an unusual position for me to find myself in—and by other speakers, so I wish to make only a few points. I was not in your Lordships' House when this matter was last debated about 18 months ago, but I have read the report of that debate in Hansard carefully and I was struck then, and I have been struck again today, by the calm and totally none-motive way in which my noble friend Lady Phillips introduced her Bill on each occasion. Of course that is absolutely right. There is no need for us to be harrowed; we have enough material on both sides. But I agree that while we should be non-emotive, we should not lose sight of the fact, as the right reverend Prelate said, that at heart this is not a debate about science; it is a debate about moral and social principles.

The issue seems to me to be whether we, as a society, should continue to allow animals to suffer for commerical profit derived from the adornment of a society that they did not help to create and in which their only protection must come from human compassion. That seems to me to be the core of the matter. If our answer to this question is that we should not allow this to continue, then figures really cease to have much relevance, whether it is 1 percent. of 1 million or 1 per cent. of 30,000 or 1 per cent. of 50,000. Such figures do not matter very much. We must give a clear answer to that question.

The cosmetic industry is huge, highly competitive and very prolific. It has been said that 100 new products come on to the market every week. Sometimes they are backed by very massive advertising indeed. Some of the advertising seems to me to be of a rather undesirable kind, and I sometimes think that when Ministers and others speak of the need to protect the consumer in the context of this Bill they should perhaps consider some of the more startling claims made in those advertisements. In any case, although it has been rightly said that people have always adorned themselves and will want to go on adorning themselves, there are surely enough safe lipsticks, powders, creams, scents, soaps, shampoos, after-shave lotions and pre-shave lotions to satisfy every taste, no matter how exotic.

Is it right to experiment on animals in order to test and then produce an even greater flood—a duplication? Surely the time has come to say to this industry that if they cannot test new cosmetics without experiments on animals they should be content with what they already have and go on marketing that, or else that they should apply their scientific and technical resources, which are vast, to other and perhaps more socially beneficial ends. I believe there is little doubt that if that was said it would give a notable impetus to the development of alternative methods of testing such as have already been mentioned here today, including tissue culture, computer testing and so on.

I am sure that the House will be grateful to my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich for the concessions he has outlined today and particularly in regard to LD 50. When criticisms are made that this Bill is undesirable, that it is ill-drafted and it is piecemeal legislation, I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, would have produced evidence of the advances that he has produced today without the impetus of my noble friend's Bill.

I would make one final point. I believe that we are at last beginning to show some real concern for the environment and some real understanding of the relationship and the interdependence of the resources of nature and of all living creatures. If that is so, then the basis and starting point must be respect for all life. That is the moral basis on which I believe this Bill rests, and I earnestly hope that your Lordships will further its progress.

4.47 p.m.


My Lords, I have the greatest sympathy for the speech just delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Jacobson. I am instinctively always on the side of the animals in cases of this kind, and particularly on this occasion. We are always being told that experiments performed on animals for medical purposes advance medical science which is available not only to doctors but to veterinary surgeons as well, and that through the vets the animal kingdom benefits from the experiments just as much as the human population. But in the field that we are discussing today, we are speaking of benefits for the human population alone and not for the animal kingdom. Therefore, I should have thought that in this connection the animals need rather special protection.

I should like to deal with a point which was raised first by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, then by the Minister, and, I think, was touched upon just now by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone. They ask: what happens when you have a substance which is sometimes used for cosmetic purposes, although not always? I think the noble Earl referred to a hair-dye which may also be used for dying leather or for other non-cosmetic purposes. They seem to think that this raises a difficulty, but from my reading of the Bill no difficulty arises at all. The Bill refers to experiments performed solely for the purpose of testing a cosmetic preparation, and if you are testing something which is not solely for a cosmetic preparation then you are dealing with something that is outside the scope of the Bill. I believe, respectfully, that those three noble Lords have erected in front of them a fence which in practice they do not have to jump at all.

At this stage of the debate, I am in very much the same position as the noble Lord, Lord Jacobson. There are points which I might have made which have been well made already and I will just boil down my notes and state as briefly as I can the very essence of the argument as I see it. I think the matter resolves itself into three questions. First, is real scientific advance in prospect in the experiment on animals which is contemplated? I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jacobson, that so many cosmetics are already available that the prospect of real scientific advance in this field, although one cannot rule it out entirely, is going to be pretty rare. The second question is: Are means of testing, other than testing upon animals, available? Thirdly, is the intensity of the suffering foreseeable justifiable judged by the value of the experiment to be conducted?

My Lords, it is always easy to pose the questions. It is not always so easy to find the answers. Who is to find the answers to these questions? I would hope that it would be the new enlarged advisory committee which is advocated in that excellent paper which was circulated, I think last summer, to which the noble Lord, Lord Platt, and the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, were signatories.

At this point I am not proposing to trespass upon the speeches which we look forward to hearing from both those noble Lords, but I hope that they will underline and urge the setting up of this stronger advisory committee. I wish them luck in persuading the Home Office to go further along the road than the noble Lord, Lord Harris, indicated this afternoon it was prepared to go—further along the road towards setting up this new advisory committee, which I believe could administer this Bill which the noble Baroness is proposing, could make it work, and make for a better world for laboratory animals.

4.52 p.m.


My Lords, I believe there is a wish in nearly all of us to polarise issues; we like them black or white, right or wrong. This attitude is well shown in the political field, when people like to talk about Communists or Fascists, Right or Left, and so on. The truth, of course, is that most choices are not black or white, and decisions lie, or perhaps I ought to say should rightly lie, in the grey area. This is inconvenient because people like to apply their yardsticks, often in the form of principles, which are frequently derived only from emotional prejudice, in order to give a yes or no answer.

This difficulty is the one which faces us with the use of animals for research and testing for the safety of drugs and other products. Most people would, under pressure, accept that some use of animals for these purposes must be accepted, but they are not happy about it and do not want to know if they can avoid doing so. Periodically this tension manifests itself, as it did with the emotional reaction to the doomed monkey on one of the early Sputniks. My own view, and I would think that of many others, is that we must accept animal experiments, but limit the numbers used, and the painful experiments or testing, to the minimum.

We shall hear, and have heard today, that the old 1876 Act and our surveillance assures us that all is well. This simply is not—I repeat not—true. The very fact that most people do not want to know about the subject ensures that there is no adequate independent check. This is a necessity in any closed tightly-knit enterprise, however highly principled and respected may be its operatives. Many of the animal tests with cosmetics are very unpleasant and painful, and, if such preparations were used solely for beauty purposes, hardly morally justified. However, as was pointed out in a previous debate on a similar Bill, and again today, there are great difficulties and objections to legislative action as proposed.

To my mind, the real merit of the Bill, if it were passed, is its psychological effect. It would focus the attention of average people, not the extremists, on this difficult subject of animal experiments, and help to limit them to a greater extent than is now the case. It follows that I am not impressed by the argument that if the Bill were passed it would simply have the effect of transferring the testing abroad and in no way decrease the total amount carried out. I must however admit that, balancing the arguments on both sides, I come to the conclusion that I would not be happy if this Bill were passed into law. Nevertheless, I do not believe it is inconsistent with this view to give the Bill a Second Reading, as we have done with some other measures which we know will never survive subsequent stages. I feel it is important that, by giving this Bill a Second Reading, we should stress that we do consider this an important subject and that more should be done. I am very pleased to hear from the Minister that in fact some new measures are on the way. I believe that, as in so many other matters, it is constant pressure by the average person, and not by the extremists, which is what we need. I will, therefore, vote against the Amendment and for the Second Reading of the Bill.

4.57 p.m.

The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, about 25 years ago I had to answer a debate on behalf of the Home Office raised by my old Commander-in-Chief, Lord Dowding, on a much wider basis of vivisection than the present debate. I contented myself with stating the position at law and the practice which was followed in the Home Office. Certain considerations came to my mind at that time. First, I would agree broadly with the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, that in many ways the Act of 1876 is surprisingly enlightened, considering the time at which it was passed. I was disturbed, however, at the ration which the Home Office makes of one inspector for about 500,000 experiments. I know the arguments about this, that there is much in the way of standard types of work. I saw the inspectors and talked to them myself. I was impressed that they had a very real sense of duty; they recognised the nature of their work and the care with which they should execute it. But one inspector for 1,000 licensees—it is somewhere of that order—did strike me as being pretty thin. Indeed, the Littlewood Report somewhat endorsed the views I had at that time.

I do think it is peculiar that there has been no prosecution for a century. The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said that one technical prosecution had taken place. You may put a very good interpretation on that, or a very bad one. My own guess is that, like most of these things, the situation is somewhere between the two. I think also that the complete exclusion of non-experimental work is something which the Home Office should take up as well. I was quite certain at that time that an examination should be carried out, and I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Brooke that this has now been done. I am sure—and the report that was made makes it clear—that legislation is required.

The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said that the scientists in this field were between the hammer and the anvil. I think the anvil must be made of sorbo rubber. I do not really think the scientists have suffered very much. Since the time I speak of the number of experiments has increased four-fold. I should like to look into the future. In 25 years, will the figure be up to 20, 30, 40 million experiments a year? Is that the direction in which we are going? There is a great deal of talk about children eating things. Of course children do eat things, and most of us have in our houses items marked,"Not for internal consumption". We look at these very carefully and if we ate enough of them we should become very ill indeed. I remember a young man saying to me, "Does it matter if I eat a ha'penny?" I tried not to frighten him but I said that it was a very bad thing to do.

The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, was perhaps incautious enough to mention thalidomide. The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, knows much more about that than I, but I am given to understand that every conceivable experiment was carried out to ensure that this drug was safe before it was used. In addition, experiments were carried out afterwards, virtually without success, to discover whether it could reproduce in animals the desperate results which came from human contact. These drugs are not by any means wholly reliable, even in cosmetics.

The last half-a-century has seen the most terrifying advance in science. We who never go inside laboratories sometimes do not realise just what is happening. I should like to quote what I call a "throw-away line" from a letter which I received from a relative working in an advanced aerospace research centre in America. He said: Quite exciting here. Our scheme for getting into space cheaply may actually be real. I am beginning to believe in it. Twenty years ago we had not even sent a sputnik into space. This is the pace at which things are going, and it is a pace which looks likely to increase even faster. What will the Home Office do to meet this developing situation? Is it a road that may be paved with crucified animals? The situation is, without doubt, accelerating. I was singularly unimpressed with the argument advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, who said that we are creating a criminal offence. There is nothing in the Bill about a criminal offence. What would normally happen is that the licence would be taken away.


My Lords, I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, would not want inadvertently to mislead the House. I said that there would be a fine of £50 on the first offence and £100 or one month's imprisonment on subsequent offences. That is why I mentioned the criminal law.

The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, to me it is redundant to tell anyone representing the Home Office that if one breaks the law one runs into trouble—of course one does. However, in this case the man's licence would be rescinded. The criminal law is the last thing that would be invoked. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, then said that we were bound by the EEC rules. Shall we maintain our standards of animal conduct in line with other European countries? Shall we be bound by any rules which the EEC passes? If so, this matter should go to the Scrutiny Committee for its views. We must maintain our own standards, in which we are far ahead of almost any country in the world.

This is a very narrow Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, said, it deals solely with experiments for one purpose. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, said that it is difficult to discriminate. At paragraph 427 the Littlewood Report said: The inspector could question the purpose and design of the project. That did not present any difficulty to Littlewood, and I am sure that it would not present any other difficulty as regards any other purpose. I agree entirely with the remarks made by the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth. If we turn the Bill down without giving it a Second Reading it means that we are simply saying that we are completely content with the status quo. Whether the Bill can be amended in Committee is something we can find out. If we are wholly content with the status quo, we should vote for the Amendment. If we are not content—and I am not—we should give the Bill a Second Reading.

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, I should have been in entire agreement with the remarks made by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, a week or two ago—that is, that if no progress had been made we should give the Bill a Second Reading, even if that only brings the subject a little more to the notice of the public and leads to more discussion and perhaps eventually culminates in a final urge to the Home Office to do something about it. However, I believe that the situation has completely changed. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, who knows more about this matter will be speaking on it. A week ago today a group of us—largely inspired by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton—of which I am pleased to be a member and which has been trying to push the Home Office into action for a very long time, met the Home Secretary and obtained a number of concessions on which the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, has touched. He did not go fully into the various matters which the Home Secretary at least seemed quite willing to consider and probably put into operation.

I hope that there is no need to tell the House that I am deeply concerned about the welfare of experimental animals. I believe that many cruel and unnecessary experiments are carried out and that much misery is caused. The Act of 1876 constantly refers to pain. Pain is difficult to judge, but anyone knows when an animal is dying or miserable as a result, for instance, of an LD 50 test. Indeed, I have done a good deal of work on this, to such an extent that, from time to time, I may have incurred the disapproval of the entrenched positions of the medical scientists and of the Research Defence Society, of which I was once a member. They do very useful and important work, but there are times when their case can be somewhat overstated.

Foremost among the reforms which I believe are necessary—and I am sure that the group is entirely in agreement with this—is a reconstitution of the Advisory Committee to the Home Office, together with a new look at its functions. I was a member of the Advisory Committee to the Home Office on Experiments on Animals for 11 years. We met only five times and we considered only 24 experiments. The only matters that we ever considered were those which were referred to us through the Inspectorate—for which I have a very high regard—experiments which seemed to be out of the normal range and which the inspector thought it doubtful whether a particular scientist's certificate covered him to carry out. That is all, so far as I am aware, that that Advisory Committee has done for the last 100 years.

We thought that there should be a reconstituted committee; that it should contain more of a lay element, although it must also be a strong scientific advisory committee, and that it should not only consider matters referred to it from the Home Secretary through the Inspectorate, but have power to initiate its own discussions. We believe that from time to time the Home Secretary should refer to this strengthened committee, which would meet more regularly, various topics for consideration—not merely isolated experiments. The former Home Secretary went a little way towards doing this when he referred the matter of the smoking beagles to a committee to which he had added some extra lay members. However, as I understood the meeting of a week ago, the present Home Secretary is prepared to go quite a lot further, saying that he would take up the other topics. It has already been decided that the first topic will be the use of the LD50 test and whether it is now relevant to the purposes for which it is used, and so on. It is perhaps not going too far to say that we were invited to give views and possibly submit a list of suggestions which from time to time might be considered. It was made clear to us that there could not be a large increase in expense and secretariat, and that things would have to move somewhat slowly.

In view of that—and I do not intend to say anything else of any moment—I think that this Bill fails. It is subject to all the objections which the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, has put before us, and some which other noble Lords have put before us. I do not think it would work out in practice. It would be another piece of bad legislation. This is no criticism of the noble Baroness, because I am sure that she does not want bad legislation, but I am afraid that it may turn out that way. We in this House know that we have had our fill of bad legislation, I will not say for how many years. For those reasons, and reluctantly—because I know how strongly the noble Baroness feels about this and to a large extent I am on her side—I shall in this case have to vote for the Amendment.

5.12 p.m.


My Lords, all of us, I am certain, must feel considerable sympathy with the humane efforts of the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, to relieve the suffering of the animals which she has described. I have myself always been fond of animals. I was brought up as a boy with one or two dogs always in the house. For 40 years I have remembered the poet Cowper's four lines: I would not enter on my list of friends (Though graced with polished manners and fine sense, Yet wanting sensibility) the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm". But in spite of all my sympathy with animals, as a family doctor I am even more interested in, and fond of, human beings, and concerned with their health and welfare.

When we doctors have patients with blemishes on their skins or external imperfections of other kinds, we do our best to overcome or diminish their anxiety, depression, or inferiority complexes about these troubles which may sometimes really spoil their lives. It is our duty to help these people medically and cosmetically to adjust themselves as happily as possible to their disabilities which are usually no fault whatever of their own. For instance, a young woman of 29 with prematurely grey hair may really need a good hair dye for genuine medico-psychological reasons; another with excessive body odour may urgently require a deodorant; another in a desperate plight with excessive hair on her face—which is a superficial cosmetic disability from a deep-seated hormonal inbalance—may need special medical treatment; another may want a scar cream to hide an ugly scar; and a sensitive schoolgirl with disfiguring spots on her face (often due to another type of hormone inbalance) may ask for some cosmetic preparation from her doctor to cover these. The borderline between cosmetics and medical preparations and treatment is ill-defined, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said; and to suggest, as this Bill does, that no cosmetics are intended to be used for medical purposes is quite unrealistic.

We know that beauty preparations can give rise to untoward, unpleasant, and occasionally serious side effects through absorption from the skin, inhalation or swallowing. Scar tissue is particularly susceptible to carcinogens, which are substances liable to stimulate cancer. Even those cosmetics which the medical profession does not normally prescribe, for example mascara, eye shadow, face powders, and lipstick (part of which patients sometimes swallow when they eat or lick their lips) may at times cause allergic reactions which doctors have to treat or prevent.

We are told that a type of mascara called "LashLure" caused permanent blindness in several American women in the 1940s before it was withdrawn from the market. Hair sprays and other aerosols not uncommonly cause bronchial distress, and irritation of the eyes and nose. These sides effects may be brought about by the cosmetic substance itself, the vehicle in which it is dissolved, or by the propellant which expels it from the aerosol or atomiser. Some of us remember the asthma-spray deaths of 1966–68; and recently we have been told, on good authority, of possible dangerous effects on women and their unborn children of semipermanent hair dyes, some of which may possibly cause cancer.

Most of these tests are on rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats. We must remember that the great majority of these tests are negative, when no real harm is done to the animals. Those which are positive draw urgent and important attention to the potential danger and suffering to human beings which the use of such cosmetic preparations may possibly cause; quite apart from needless time off work, reduction in efficiency in carrying out their daily tasks in the home, and unnecessary costs in time and money to the hard-pressed National Health Service.

Many of us would be more than distressed if one of our own children, or other relations, a friend, or (in the case of a doctor) one of our patients became disfigured or seriously ill with a generalised allergic dermatitis or eczema, a blood dyscrasia, liver or kidney damage, a malignant growth, or the birth of a deformed child, just because a cosmetic preparation had not been properly tested before being put on the market.

Let us ask ourselves for a moment how else can they be tested except on animals? Some alternatives to animal testing of proven reliability are already used. They are cheaper and therefore preferred. But tissue cultures and other in-vitro, test-tube methods are not suitable for general application yet. Human volunteers come forward now in considerable numbers but, very wisely, not for the initial testing of potentially damaging or dangerous preparations. Are human volunteers to be used more? If they suffer permanent harm, such as loss of sight, how could this possibly be justified? How will they be compensated and by whom? Their employers may be under considerable risk by law, because we must remember that firms which make cosmetics have a duty (under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1971) to ensure that operatives involved in manufacturing processes are not subject to undue risks.

In America a Bill is now before the United States Senate to amend the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Acts and make it compulsory to submit each new cosmetic product to 19 separate tests on animals. What will be the legal position with the general public in Britain, in future, of a firm putting on the market a cosmetic preparation which has not been adequately tested and later proves to be dangerous? The experience of the Distillers Company after the thalidomide tragedy gives us some indication of this.

We are told now, on good authority, that the thalidomide disaster was due to inadequate animal testing of a new drug before it was put on the market. Who could possibly have guessed that a pill used as a sedative to reduce the sickness of pregnancy would cause babies to be born with grossly deformed arms or legs, or perhaps without one or more limbs at all? In future, who will be able to tell for certain, without animal tests, for what troubles new cosmetics may be responsible?

No compassionate person in his senses would want to cause unnecessary pain or discomfort to any animal through an objectionable or frivolous experiment. We must always do our best to make sure that that does not happen by following strictly the rules already laid down in our Statute Book about these tests. "Unnecessary" is the key word here. Some people have said to me recently: "Is there a real need, now, for more new cosmetics; cannot we make do with the many well tried ones we already have?" I do not think so. The human race with its vanities has wanted new cosmetics for thousands of years, back to ancient Egypt and far beyond, when the most primitive peoples painted their faces and their bodies. It is very unlikely, I think, that our modern world could do without new ones now; but we must ensure that these are as safe as it is possible to make them.

May I say that how your Lordships divide at the end of this debate should depend on how each of us answers one very important, simple but fundamental question, which is this: "If we continue to develop new cosmetics, and if there is the slightest risk of cancer or any other serious trouble arising from their use, would you wish for this to appear first in one of your daughters, another relative or in a friend, rather than in a rabbit, guinea pig, mouse, or in a rat?". Public opinion has been mentioned. There is very little doubt, I believe, how most people in this country would answer that question.

I am sure that we fully appreciate the kindly motives which stimulated the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, to propose this Bill. But it remains true, at present, that really practical alternatives to many animal tests are not yet available, in spite of more than £500,000 which has been spent recently in trying to find them. That is the main reason why I and many other doctors, the Research Defence Society (with all the important medical, veterinary, biological, pharmacological, pharmaceutical and other scientific and research bodies connected with it) and a great many other people, are so very unhappy about this Bill and fervently hope that your Lordships will follow the Government's lead in opposing it and will accept Lord Halsbury's Amendment, so that it will go no further just now. Let us consider this subject again, later on, if and when a really suitable alternative to all animal testing has been found.

5.23 p.m.


My Lords, I wish at the outset to break lance with the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, who I am glad to see is in his place. The main point of his brief speech appeared to be to unveil a testimonial to the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 which, he said, was a remarkably good measure, and he then complimented our forbears because he thought they had legislated better than they knew. In fact, the reason why the 1876 Act has worked well, as so many say, is that dozens, if not hundreds, of laboratories have been walking freely through it for years and years.

Any Act in such wide and general terms as are drawn in the 1876 Act presents obvious opportunity of evasion and loophole and even direct contravention, especially when there is no opportunity of going to the courts for a remedy and no opportunity of going to the courts for a construction of the meaning of the words of the Act, except by consent of the Home Secretary; and that is really the mischief of the 1876 Act. I wonder for how much longer the Home Secretary's obstruction to an approach to the courts will prevent the wording of the 1876 Act from being closely examined in a court of law.


My Lords, as the noble Lord has made a direct attack on me he will, I hope, forgive me for asking him, first, whether there are not other Acts of Parliament about which the same sort of argument could be put forward and, secondly, whether he does not remember that I suggested that perhaps the Act needed looking at and needed implementing more fully? I got the impression that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said that that would be done. Perhaps it is a little unreasonable to pick out a particular Act and tear it to shreds around the shroud in which I find myself covered.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for that intervention, my Lords. But I want to emphasise that in most Acts there is a remedy for any person who feels aggrieved by its administration or application and anybody who questions the construction of an Act has access to a court of law, but in the case of the 1876 Act, no citizen can go there unless the Home Secretary gives his consent. This is the point we were on with the Post Office industrial dispute recently in connection with South African communications; it is the same issue. For how long are Ministers going to be able to stand between the public and the courts on a matter of public interest and the construction of a Public Act which is there in the public interest? That is the issue. We have not been able to find any opportunity of testing the construction of the 1876 Act in the courts. I mention that because it explains why there is this constant feeling of approval—that it must have worked well because there has been so little trouble about it—whereas, as I say, it is wide open; that is why there has been so little trouble about it.

I am very glad indeed that the Home Secretary is going to look more closely than he has done for many years at the conditions of the granting of licences and at the conditions of issuing certificates under those licences for the performance of particular experiments in laboratories, but I will come to that later.

A word about the BBC programme in the "Horizon" series on this subject last Friday. I thought it was a bold first step into a difficult and controversial field and I hope the BBC will be bolder still in future programmes and more persistent in its intention to show more of the truth to the public. I know the difficulty here. I have met many people since Friday and I have asked them, "Did you see the 'Horizon' programme?" to which many of them have replied, "No, I couldn't look at it. I didn't want to see it". As the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, said, people do not want to know. I submit that they should be made to know; they should be compelled, by frequent debate and illustration of what all this means, to give their attention to a matter of great public interest.

After all, public opinion is really the foundation of all legislation. It is the foundation of the administration of all Acts of Parliament. If we do not have public opinion we have nothing but the experts and the disputations between those of us who take one point of view and those who take another, neither of whom may necessarily represent public opinion, and so there is a duty on the public to form an opinion based on more information and more debate.

In coming to the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, one must remember that he is the representative of the establishment, the Research Defence Society. I sometimes wonder about that: defence against whom? The Research Defence Society is the name, but against whom are they defending research—the public, whose interest they are supposed to be serving?

The Earl of HALSBURY

Inter alia, my Lords, against the people who are going about burning down laboratories and animal suppliers' establishments.


No, my Lords. The Research Defence Society was not set up to deal with vandalism, the burning down of laboratories and the freeing of beagle dogs; it was set up donkeys' years ago because those concerned feared public opinion. I think the stock in trade of the Research Defence Society is a pot of cold cream. We heard this afternoon about this famous pot of cold cream that some hypothetical child is supposed one day to have swallowed and, in consequence, got a tummy-ache. We not only heard it from the noble Earl but also from another member of the Research Defence Society, the professor in the programme last Friday. So this pot of cold cream is the stock in trade of the Research Defence Society. I think that they ought to get rid of it or find the kid who swilled the pot of cold cream and let us know what were the consequences. Is cold cream so appetising that kids want to eat it by the potful and, if so, cannot the cosmetic industry put a nasty taste into it so that kids will not want a spoonful of it, much less a potful? We must ask for a little serious debate in this matter.

Coming back to the programme, I understand the dilemma of the BBC. They say, "If, in a programme of this kind, we show some of the real horrors of experiments on animals, the television sets will be turned off by the million and our programme will have lost its impact."So there is a balance to be kept here, and I think that it was pretty well kept in the first programme, though I thought that, since the programme was called "The Law and the Guinea Pigs", the law might perhaps have been gone into more deeply, especially the point about the inability of the public to test the construction of the 1876 Act in the courts.

Why are the doctors and researchers and the Research Defence Society always so heavily on the defensive? Why do they leave it to others to suggest the course and direction of reform? After all, these are the people in the business. They know what is happening. They are doing it every day. They know what is wrong with it and they ought to be able to tell us how some changes could be made. But no! We never hear any of these suggestions from those who are constantly engaged in the field of research. I do not want to fix particularly on the Research Defence Society. I am very fond of their president and I do not want to lose his affection, so I shall transfer my criticism from him to the doctors, who frequently say that if there were not all this research going on in the background they would not be able to treat the coughs and colds of patients as effectively as they do now.

Let us concede that a great deal has been done by the use of animals in discovering remedies and the causes of human ailments. But in this Bill we are dealing with non-medical substances. Here, I believe that the Bill is defective because it is too narrowly drawn. I think also that in present circumstances noble Lords would be unwise to give the Bill a Second Reading in circumstances where the Home Secretary has made substantial advances. I did not feel that my noble friend Lord Harris had done the Home Secretary's case the justice that it deserved this afternoon. I know that there are Ministerial difficulties, but my noble friend was not present at the inteview with the Home Secretary a week ago and he suffered that disadvantage. He was given a brief as to what happened. All I can say is that, if I had been writing a brief describing what happened at the interview with the Home Secretary a week ago, it would have been much more enthusiastic and I would have spelt it out more fully and should have recommended it to the House with confidence. Instead of that, my noble friend spent most of his speech on the traditional lines, defending the moral and ethical position and frightening us out of our wits by saying that if we stop doing experiments people in other countries will do more and all the rest of it.

Why did he not concentrate on the practical issues with which I believe the House should be concerned now? I shall deal with them very briefly. First, much has happened since June, 1975. The noble Lord, Lord Platt, I myself and the animal societies got together to form a reasonable and representative group to try to get something out of this situation. We thought that the best way of getting something out of this situation was to do all we could to get results from the Advisory Committee and the Administration without pressing for fresh legislation.

Let us make progress by using the resources that are available. The first is the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee has been suffering from underemployment. It can only act on a reference from the Home Secretary, and the Home Secretary has made very few references to it in the last few years, as the noble Lord, Lord Platt, said. The score of meetings of the Advisory Committee in the last ten years is exactly seven, and three of those were in 1975. There was a nil score in 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1973. Nil in all those years! The noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross, is chairman and he is not suffering from overwork. He has probably sometimes forgotten that he is the chairman because the Committee never meets. He must wonder sometimes what he is doing there. I really wonder that he has not complained at being the head of such an idle, useless Advisory Committee to the Home Secretary and has not reproached him for not giving the Committee more work to do.

We want the Advisory Committee to do more. The LSD test has now been referred to it. That is an important first step. The Home Secretary has said that he is willing to consider the next recruits for the attention of the Advisory Committee when it has disposed of the first reference to it. That is an important step too. So we are now beginning to line up references for the Committee to keep it more fully occupied with investigation into areas that give rise to most public concern.

With regard to the composition of the Advisory Committee, there are too many doctors on it. There are eight doctors out of the 14 members. There is one veterinary surgeon, and four lay members, two of whom are politicians. One is a Member of Parliament and the other is a former Member of Parliament. We want the Advisory Committee enlarged to become more representative of the lay point of view and of the animal welfare point of view so that the Committee is not so heavily laden with so-called "expert opinion".

Another point that we must insist upon is that no member of the Advisory Committee shall have any interest in commercial establishments that are connected with animal breeding or commercial research institutions. Members must be clear of any suggestion that they have a finger in the commercial pie. I believe that this must be properly looked into before further appointments are made to the Committee. I believe that another thing that my noble friend Lord Harris could have said is that the Home Secretary would have gone much further along the road outlined by my noble friend Lord Platt in a further widening of the field of investigation and a fuller use of the capacity for investigation of an enlarged, properly serviced Advisory Committee; he would have been willing to go into that with some degree of approval had he not been suffering under cuts in public expenditure, which he more than once complained had hit his Department very severely. However, we will hope that when those restraints are removed, we can get more research and investigation done and can have the reports published so that the public may form its own opinion about what is going on.

It is not until the windows and doors are opened and informed public opinion can be brought to bear that we shall have the satisfaction of relying on a public point of view. After all, the real remedy for all this cosmetic business is for the women of Britain to reject cosmetics. Since when has lipstick become an essential part of medicine, of toilet, or of anything else? When I was young the only people who used lipstick were tarts and actresses, but now it is universal. We disapproved of lipstick. We knew that a woman was an immoral woman if she wore lipstick, but now all the virgins in Britain put on lipstick. I would ask: Why has this vogue become such an essential part of the vanity of women?

That is a lighthearted diversion, but surely the women should know what cosmetics are tested on animals. Here the commercial interest is so much involved. Now the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, is in his place. He has been the custodian of the standards of the advertising industry for quite a long time. He knows as well as I do that this insidious persuasion is going on; we see it on television, in the colour supplements, in the newspapers every day of the week. People are told that they must look more beautiful, that they must get more emotion out of life, that they must go in for more romantic love. They are told that the ways to do this are to beautify oneself, and to smoke cigarettes, and do all the things that are associated with a wonderful sexual life. This is the image that is presented through the advertising media. No wonder that all the women fall for it. But I think that the whole of this industry could be turned further away from the use of animals if more publicity were given to the situation.

I am not going to take more than a minute more, my Lords. I want to say to my noble friend that the Home Secretary is to be congratulated upon having, I think with resolve and speed, determined to make a start on changes and reforms in the administration of the 1876 Act. He is determined to use the Advisory Committee more. We want to encourage him to do that. We have enlarged the representativeness of the group that is in association with it. We want to co-operate with it. I am not prepared to join with any noble Lords this afternoon in delivering a rebuff to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, because I think that he has done enough to justify approval, rather than the vote of no confidence which I think giving the Bill a Second Reading might imply.

I disagree with the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, on this point. I think that the situation has changed; I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Platt. Let us say to the Home Secretary: We have heard what you are prepared to do. We encourage you to do it. We ask you to do more. We shall take stock again a little later on, but meantime we will not give a Second Reading to a Bill that you might think is a vote of censure upon you. I believe that it would be most unfortunate if we were to divide on the Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading. That would be to reject it. I do not know what might come out of it. But I say with great respect that I think it would be far better if the House were to take note of what the Home Secretary is doing, to approve of it, to move on, and then come back on another occasion to see how much has been done.

5.43 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself in a most difficult position having to address your Lordships after the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, as I do not have the skill with words which he can produce. I am not sure that I go the whole way with him, but I think it is rather peculiar that it has to take two presentations of a Bill like this—in addition to the pressure which the noble Lord has been applying—to get the Home Secretary to move. I trust that in future when something needs to be done we shall have people like the noble Baroness who are prepared to put down Bills. Perhaps that would stimulate various Home Secretaries from time to time. It was pleasant to hear the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, for whom I have the greatest respect, as most of the opposition to the Bill sounded to me rather like a piece of music being played by five different orchestras with a number of different conductors. The theme was always the same, but the tone was slightly different.

What appeared to me to be difficult, is that the noble Baroness is posing a question as to how far can one justify the use of animals in experiments, and she has endeavoured to draw a line as to where this experimentation should cease. While I must confess that I do not like the idea of animals being used in experiments, I am not denying—and I should be the last to deny—that in certain circumstances it is necessary to use animals. There are certain areas of medicine in which I consider it is probably absolutely essential to use them. But I do not include the kind of self-inflicted wounds such as smoking as constituting a justifiable use of animals in order to cure anybody. It is difficult to know where to stop. In the Bill, the noble Baroness says that one should stop at cosmetics. People who oppose the Bill might consider that we are trying to insert the thin edge of the wedge in order to stop all experiments on animals. I personally should be most upset if that were thought to be so, and if anybody attributed that to me I should deny it most strongly.

It has been said that cosmetics have been proved to be dangerous and have caused all kinds of difficulties in the past in the way of injuries and similar troubles. Cosmetics have been in use for some considerable time. What I think people are trying to say is not that cosmetics as such are dangerous, but that people want to put new drugs and new materials into cosmetics and they are not quite sure what effect such cosmetics would have. I cannot see how much further one can go in enlarging the range of cosmetics. Having looked around this world for a number of years, I do not see that very much improvement can be made. I am very strongly against the use of animals for improving cosmetics any further.

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, carefully asked whether the public knew what was being done in all these experiments. My Lords, I am quite convinced that the public do not know, and I feel that if they did know there would be a tremendous reaction against many of the cosmetics which are now being produced. It would be interesting to see what would happen if manufacturers were required by law to state on cosmetic containers what animals had been used in the manufacture of the cosmetics and various other preparations. For instance, in regard to face cream it might be stated that the manufacturers had used 50 rabbits, 20 monkeys, 13 dogs and 14 cats. If that information had to be stated on a container, I wonder how many people, when they read that, would be prepared to buy the cosmetics?

One always has the feeling that the basis for all these experiments is highly commercialised. It is done only in order to increase the profits in cosmetic firms, and I personally do not like animals to be used in this way. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Fawley, mentioned certain fearful things about allergies. He referred to what has to be done when people get allergies from cosmetics and said that you have to use animals to stop it. My Lords, you get allergies from quite different things. Penicillin is one of those things. Nobody testing penicillin on animals could have said that somebody like myself would come out in the most appalling sores as a result of its use. I am afraid that, to me, Lord Hunt's arguments have small bearing. Personally, I welcome the Bill. The noble Baroness has been told that it is defective. There is never a Private Bill which is produced which some Government Department does not say is defective, but no doubt that could be sorted out in Committee. Personally, I support the noble Baroness.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, as in the case of other noble Lords, the carefully prepared speech which I brought with me is going home in my pocket undelivered, no doubt gaining in brilliance all the time, for there is very little more to be said. I felt there was little more to be said after the forthright speech of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. I will, if I may, concentiate on one point which I find both disturbing and puzzling—the noble Lord dealt with it, at least by implication—and it is this. One can understand the anti-vivisectionist who, on moral grounds, is wholly against the use of animals in experimentation. I do not accept that, but I can understand it. What I cannot understand is the selection of cosmetics for this particular exercise. I suspect that the reason is that it is regarded as an unnecessary activity, even a frivolous activity. It is no good the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, thinking that an old gentleman like him can get up and tell the women of this country what they should put on their faces or other places.

I believe it has been selected because it is thought to be superfluous and unnecessary, and even improper, no doubt—and I believe that to be a substantial weakness. Thirty million people use cosmetics, and it is not only lipstick and powder—those particular items which years ago taught the noble Lord the difference between one girl and another. There is a wide range of products—soaps, lotions, creams, deodorants—which are used by people for one purpose or another, from the improvement of appearance to the sweetening of some part of the human body. I believe that to be the main weakness of this Bill.

We ought not to say to people, "If this is a substance you use of your own free will just to freshen yourself and to beautify yourself—unnecessary exercises—then you do it at your own risk". That seems to me to go right to the heart of the whole consumer protection business, in which the noble Baroness has taken so active a part. If women (and men, for that matter; but I will stick to the subject raised by the noble Lord) decide that these things are what they want, despite the pleas of elderly gentlemen, then they are entitled to have their safety guaranteed so far as can be, and that seems to me to be the main question to be asked and answered. Are we entitled to expect that forms of action or activity which are not essential, or articles which are not essential, are safe? For if we once depart from the present position, we shall be in grave trouble.

Toys are not necessary or essential, but parents are entitled to know that they are safe. There are all sorts of activities and articles which are not essential, but we are entitled to know that they are safe. I really rather regret the selection of cosmetics as an area from which experiment should be excluded, because I suspect it is being done for the reason that the noble Lord all too readily revealed in that temporary appeal to the women of this country.

So I would say that people are entitled to safety, and that therefore the question which arises is: Is animal experimentation necessary for that purpose? I do not presume to answer that question in strict terms. The weight of scientific opinion is that animal experimentation is necessary, despite the growing use of human experimentation—and I suspect that there will be many cases in which there will need to be animal experimentation before human experimentation can take place. So I believe that this Bill is misguided. As the noble Lord points out, it has had an unexpected dividend or an extra dividend in the form of the subsequent statement of the noble Lord. But on the basic issue of something that people do, or use or wear on their skins, sensibly or not, wisely or not, enthusiastically or not, they are entitled to know that it is safe. If we are to pursue the line of selecting such a group of articles as this and of denying animal experimentation on the grounds that it is an unnecessary activity, that seems to me to be a very dangerous doctrine. I hope the House will support the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and will bring an end to what is a most undesirable movement, contrary to a much more important movement—the movement for increasing the safety of the environment, whether it in fact relates to necessary or unnecessary, to serious or to frivolous, activities.

5.58 p.m.


My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness on bringing forward this Bill. In my opinion, the noble Baroness had rather a rough ride on the last Bill she brought forward. The noble Lord on the Front Bench, Lord Harris of Greenwich, rather interested me when he said that the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act must be quite all right because there have been (I think he said) no prosecutions, or hardly any prosecutions, under it. That is really a very poor argument, I think, because we must remember that this Act was introduced to protect a mere handful of extremely high-grade scientists who were experimenting with only 200 or 300 animals, whereas we now have these vast commercial firms who are experimenting with millions of animals. This is a trade, I understand, worth £200 million a year and, as we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hill, it supplies 20 million to 30 million people. That is not to say that the 5 million experiments apply only to this trade, because the 5 million figure applies to non-medical experiments and to medical experiments. But this is a vast commercial business, and to say that the Act has worked well because there has not been any prosecution is a very poor argument. I should like to see a completely new Act. I think we should have a 1977 or 1978 Act to provide far more stringent protection for animals.

My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said that in the last debate I mentioned a figure of 1 million animals used in experiments for cosmetics. I did not mean toiletry. I took my figures from the Sunday Mirror of the 24th February 1974. The Sunday Mirror stated that 1 million animals died annually in cosmetic testing. They are referring to both medical and non-medical and not to non-medical alone. In previous debates, we have always been told by the Government, and by other noble Lords, that it is quite impossible to separate the medical from the non-medical in cosmetics. The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, I think, told us that there were only 30,000 animals used in non-medical cosmetics. If the noble Earl knows that, he must have made a definition and a distinction between medical and non-medical.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, may I intervene? What I said was that the trade federation of the cosmetics manufacturers circulated their members for information and turned up 30,000. I did not say that they were medical or non-medical; just cosmetical.


My Lords, I am surprised there were so few; because the information I have had is that they were very much greater. I was pleased to hear what Lord Harris of Greenwich—not that I am going to throw him any bouquets—told us about LD50; but I am rather of the opinion that if the Government had not had pressure put on them by these debates, we should not have had that welcome news about the LD50 tests. I know two young people who left laboratories that were doing that work because they were so disgusted. I do not want to go into further detail than we have had in the debate this afternoon, but the LD50 test does seem, in the majority of cases, to be quite unnecessary and extremely cruel: often to force-feed animals until their guts are broken and ruptured. Surely, it serves no purpose to take an animal which is perhaps one-hundredth or one two-hundredth the weight of a man and to test a substance on it by inflicting a far greater dose than any man would ever have to take. It seems completely illogical and absurd.

I should like to take up something which was said by the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, and others in regard to thalidomide. I understand that thalidomide was tested on various animals, and that on rats it had no effect at all. But it was found that if a rabbit received 30 times the normal dose for a woman, it produced slight abnormalities in the foetus. What I am pointing out is that tests on animals often have been proved to be completely unreliable as applied to human beings. For instance, as was mentioned in the last debate, insulin and cortisone cause abnormalities in animals but no abnormalities in humans. Let us take the case of penicillin. We might never have had penicillin if it had been discovered today; because if you give penicillin to guinea pigs it poisons them. In the days when penicillin was discovered, they did not, as a routine, go into the screening and laboratory tests that are carried out today with animals. Therefore it might never have reached clinical trials; we would not have had it; and man would have lost a great deal. They would have tried it on animals; it would have poisoned them; and we would not have got it. I am not a doctor, but one must go by the evidence. I do not think you can really say (as the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, said, if I understood him correctly) that substances must always be tested on animals. He gave the impression that it was infallible.

When we come to some of these eye tests on rabbits and other animals, I think they are really cruel. There is plenty of evidence to prove that where you hold animals in a clamp keep their eyes open and pour into the eyes these shampoos and other astringents, this is very cruel. But what it really boils down to is the moral issue. The moral issue varies with the individual; it depends on an individual's attitude to how far he separates animal life from human life, from the human animal. I am nowhere told that we have a soul—and, as the right reverend Prelate is in his place, I am not going to enter into a theological argument—but I am sure we have a soul. We also have far greater powers of reasoning and greater inventiveness and greater imagination than animals. I do not think animals have much imagination. We have greater mental powers than animals; but do we differ greatly physically? Of course, the trouble is that it is very difficult to know how much pain an animal feels because he cannot speak our language.

Might I quote very shortly from two reports? The official report of the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals concluded that on behavioural, anatomical and survival grounds, animals suffer pain in the same way as human beings. This was followed by the Littlewood Report of 1965 which, on page 65, stated: There is scientific evidence that all mammals have the physical structures which seem to be involved in the production of sensations of pain and these appear to work in the same way as in man. There you have the opinion of two very learned committees. From my practical experience, I know where animals do suffer acute pain, stress and misery. The average person's ignorance about animals is quite extraordinary. I suppose that is because we are an urban nation. Might I point out the acute senses that animals have? The average animal has a far better sense of smell than we have; it has better eyesight and better hearing. This is not always the case but I am speaking of the average. For example, a dog with his far more acute hearing going through a hayfield in summer time must be completely deafened by the noise of insects. When I worked sheepdogs I had a whistle which, when blown could be heard by the dog a long way away. The human ear could not hear it. Animals on the whole have more perception than we have and a far greater homing instinct.

My Lords, if we consider whales, the blue whale can communicate for 400 miles with another whale. If it were not for all the disturbances in the oceans, such as those caused by ships, it could probably communicate for 4,000 miles. We are inclined to say that they are just animals, as if they are inanimate objects. If they have these senses, they must feel acute pain, misery and distress. If you are riding a highly-bred horse—and horses are not intelligent—its reactions are amazingly quick; they are quicker than those of a human being. If anything stirs in a hedge the horse will immediately shy. We must conclude that animals feel pain to the same degree that we do.

My Lords, I have spoken for too long. I would say to appease the scientists that I agree that legislating on biology is very difficult; but if the survival of a government depended at the polls on making a definition between a medical and non-medical cosmetic, I bet you anything they would soon make it! I do not think that the excuse that a definition cannot be made is good enough. We pride ourselves on being the highest and most civilised form of life; we must behave as such in our treatment of fellow mammals of less intelligence. If we do not, we debase ourselves and civilisation. It is the custom in this House to give Bills a Second Reading. A Bill can always be amended at Committee stage. I hope this Bill receives a Second Reading, and I support it.

6.13 p.m.


My Lords, this has been a very wide-ranging debate and I venture to think that some of it has had very little reference to the Bill. One noble Lord referred to a case of the girls who were employed painting watch dials and who developed cancer. They developed cancer 25 or 30 years later. Animal testing I am afraid would not have saved them. Somebody else referred to insulin and the need for testing. Nobody pays any attention to the fact that the population of this country is eating far too much sugar and that is why there is the development of diabetes. These issues are outside the scope of this Bill, which is devoted solely to one particular purpose: to make it clear that testing cosmetics should not fall within the definition which is contained in the Act of 1876.

Let us look at what this Act said. It was for the purpose of regulating and indeed for prohibiting, with exceptions, experiments upon animals. The experiments which were to be permitted were for making new discoveries of physiological knowledge or knowledge which would be useful for saving or prolonging life or alleviating suffering. I do not think testing cosmetics has anything to do with alleviating suffering or prolonging life and I do not see what it has to do with extending new knowledge and physiology. It is not directed to that at all. If our predecessors, who 101 years ago passed the Cruelty to Animals Act, had been told that it was going to permit all the experimentation which takes place today they would have been horrified.

It is said that this Bill is highly undesirable because people must be protected by the testing of products. This is what my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich has said and what the noble Lord, Lord Hill of Luton, and others, have said. But what are these products against which people are to be protected? They are produced by people who are manufacturing cosmetics for the purpose of their private profit. Why should we help them to do this? Why should we say: "You can put them on the market if you like; it does not matter because if this Bill is passed you need not test them"? Is this really the law of this country, that anybody who likes to put a product on the market, recklessly and without knowing the effects it will have, is entitled to do so? I feel extremely surprised at this doctrine. If that is the state of the law of this country it wants fundamental re-examination. Whether or not this Bill should be passed, I do not know; but I have a feeling that it will be salutary if it has a Second Reading because this subject wants examination. My noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby referred to the Advisory Committee and perhaps that may be a useful method of dealing with the matter. I wonder whether the Advisory Committee ever considers whether the experiments which are being permitted fall within the definition in the Act of 1876 of what is permissible.

My noble friend Lord Harris said that this Bill was objectionable because it was going to create a new crime. But the Act of 1876 creates a crime. Under it nobody is entitled to conduct experiments on animals unless they are for the purposes which I have mentioned, for providing new physiological knowledge. Surely, testing cosmetics is not providing new knowledge about the physiology of human beings, nor is it making a contribution to medical science for the saving or prolonging of life. I suggest that, if nothing else is done, somebody should begin to think about whether this is the kind of situation which this Act of Parliament is intended to permit.

6.19 p.m.


My Lords, I will not attempt to reply to all your Lordships who have taken part in this debate. I feel rather punch drunk at the moment. I may say to my noble friend Lord Houghton that the amount of lipstick that I have used in the past few years since I have been in your Lordships' House has not produced for me any sexual experiences; but perhaps I should still be hopeful! I in fact use bath salts, but no white knight in shining armour has come up the garden. Perhaps I should sue under the Trade Descriptions Act!

Some interesting arguments have been advanced against my poor little Bill. I learned that it was a dangerous doctrine. The noble Lord, Lord Hill of Luton, seemed to think that anything should be safe, whatever you are going to do. I do not want to debate with him, but I wonder how far he would extend that to the realm of tobacco. We were told, notably by the doctors, of course, that they frequently recommend makeup. It is very interesting news to me that a lady who goes for treatment for depression is told to use a little more face cream. If it is therapeutic to cover up burnt skin, that would not be purely cosmetic. I thought I had tried to make that point at the beginning of the debate.

I thought the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, made a very powerful speech, but I am sorry that I cannot say the same for the Minister. He thundered on and reiterated at least three times that it was "criminal law". But, my Lords, what is every Act of Parliament that we have dealt with in this House? Nearly all Bills create crimes about which I, as a magistrate, have to listen, and which carry a penalty. I could not follow why this Bill was different in any particular from any other Bill or Act that is dealt with in this House. Certainly there are some civil actions which flow from certain matters but, generally speaking, we are concerned with the implementation of Acts of Parliament which make criminal law.

The noble Lord then went on to unfold the "goodies", as did the noble Lord, Lord Houghton—in other words, that the Home Office are going to decide either to resuscitate the Advisory Committee or to put more people on it, but at any rate I gather I was supposed to fall about and say, "Marvellous!" I say quite seriously to the Minister that it would have been a little more courteous if he, on behalf of the Government, and possibly also the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, and the noble Lord, Lord Platt, had told me of these discussions before today. I will put it no higher than that, but if they were going to suggest that, on the strength of that, I withdrew my Bill—though they did not put it quite so forcefully as that—I think I might have been a little forewarned.

I am sorry that the Advisory Committee does not cause me to wish to withdraw the Bill and, for the life of me, I cannot see how the Government could take that as an act of censure. We are always told about these committees. When we debated quite recently a very small clause to be put in a Bill concerning handicapped children, what was I told from the Front Bench?—"Wait for the Warnock Committee". We are always waiting for something or for some committee, and I would say that this Bill does not in any way stop the Advisory Committee going about their business. In fact, it is very interesting that they have selected the specific LD50 test. Since the noble Earl informed us earlier that it was hardly ever used, why should they bother to investigate it?

We were also told that the number of animals involved was so small; and, incidentally, several people set up in order to knock down Aunt Sallies that I had not raised. I very carefully did not raise the 5 million figure; so why people bothered to "reply" to it I do not know, except that perhaps they had their speeches written first and could not be flexible about them. Even if the number of animals is small, I would say to the noble Earl that surely that does not matter so much. You cannot have it both ways. If you are not doing the tests you have nothing to worry about, even if the Advisory Committee look at it. If the number of animals is only small then, all right, this is only a small piece of legislation.

I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Hill, that I stand on a moral base and I do not wish to be unctuous about it. I take the point that was made by the right reverend Prelate, and I care far more for my cousins than my cats. I care for people, just as all your Lordships do; but it is of little use to make a protestation of sympathy and to say, for instance, that you, like me, are sorry for the animals, if you still persist in saying that these experiments shall go on. I believe, with St. Francis, that we do have a trusteeship over the lower animals, and equally I believe it is unnecessary to carry out these experiments in our day and age. Where are our scientists, if they cannot devise some tests which need not involve experiments being made on animals?

My Lords, I am sorry that I remain unconvinced either by the scientific arguments or the frightening arguments that have been advanced. I am unconvinced by the worst and most insiduous argument of all, that if I do this I shall in some way be committing an act of censure on the Government. I shall risk that, my Lords, because I prefer to be on the side of the animals.

6.25 p.m.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, we have had a very interesting and wideranging debate on the Bill and on my Amendment, which have been debated together; and honours are even. We have had 10 speeches in favour of the Bill and 10 speeches in favour of the Amendment. In those circumstances, I do not think one can ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her Bill and I do not think I can be asked to withdraw my Amendment. Quite frankly, opinions are equally divided and we should go into the Division Lobby at the end of my remarks.

I was not entirely happy about the introduction of the noble Baroness, when she said "This is Animal Day and it is very appropriate in relation to Animal Year, and so to celebrate that let us have a new law." I realise that she was speaking only light-heartedly, but straws show which way the wind blows and I think there has been a very deliberate effort to get something done in Animal Welfare Year, 1976, because it is the anniversary of 1876. However, I do not believe that that is really the right attitude to take in respect of a matter such as this.

There is one item which comes through sometimes as a logical flaw in the argument and sometimes as a misunderstanding. The noble Lord, Lord Sandys, referred to the Draize test. You do not do that test with sulphuric acid on the eye of a rabbit in order to prove that sulphuric acid will injure the eye, because you know it will. You only do a Draize test on something which you have good reason to suppose is safe. When I was young, we did not have shampoos and I had the trauma of having my hair washed with soap, and it always got into my eyes and stung. The sting passed, of course, and no-long term damage was done. It is quite understandable that an animal's eye might smart for a moment if something were put into it: so would mine. But as the law stands, and working under a Home Office licence, if, as a consequence, the animal was in permanent severe pain you could either kill the animal then and there or alternatively you could anaesthetise it then and there and see whether the pain was still there when it recovered consciousness. But, as the law stands, you would not be allowed to keep the animal in pain for that purpose.

As I said, there sometimes occurs a logical flaw in the argument and this applies to some extent to what was said by the noble Lords, Lord Houghton and Lord de Clifford—put a label on the bottle saying, "This has been tested on animals". If the conclusion of the test on animals was that it did not do them any harm and therefore was safe for human beings to use, what was the harm in that? I think if you tried to bias people's choice by telling them that a preparation was perfectly safe because it had been tested on an animal, they would see through the argument and say, "What does that matter?"

I am a little concerned about the idea that you ought to give something a Second Reading to mark the importance of the subject-matter. I think that is a rather dangerous doctrine. We have done that once already, and I said that one of my purposes was to save your Lordships going through the business of Committee and Report stages. All you could do in Committee with regard to so simple a Bill would be to put in a wrecking Amendment—so why not test the matter at the Second Reading?

I was very glad to recruit the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, to our half of the team, as it were, though not necessarily for the reasons that I would have wished to recruit him, and to have his support. We have been crossing swords across the Floor of this House on this topic for long enough to have a family joke and, with regard to the famous pot of cold cream, I must tell him that I appear to have coined this as an aside in reply to a speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, when I said that I quite agreed with the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene, about the unnecessary provision of the LD50s on things such as cold cream and so on. It was my coining; not the noble Viscount's. This got into the minds of the people who read Hansard, but I assure your Lordships that a pot of cold cream is not the crest of the Research Defence Society.

I do not want to talk about thalidomide. I was involved in that tragedy. The full story has never been told, save only that at that time the state of medical knowledge was such that non-toxic substances were not tested for teratogenic action. It was then believed that all teratogens were toxic. Thalidomide was the exception, and now non-toxic substances are regularly tested for that.

I very much welcome the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, to have this new scheme of reporting. I am involved in one of his pilot studies for it. I do not know whether he has read the fine print in some of these documents, but, curiously enough, one of the categories which you are not asked to report on is whether you are doing experiments on cosmetics. In view of all the "curfuffle" in Parliament about this, I find that rather surprising and perhaps the noble Lord would be willing to look into it.

The fact that the 1876 Act is 100 years old does not mean that it is inoperative or out of date. Magna Charta is 762 years old but we still have it, or something like it, on the Statute Book. I am not a lawyer, so I do not know whether that is the right way to talk about it. But times have changed since the 1876 Act and I am aware that there is considerable public anxiety about this question. More tests are being done, and for different purposes than when the 1876 Act was passed, and I think it is desirable that there should be a public reassurance. What I hope for is that, in the light of the new information with which the noble

Lord, Lord Harris, will provide us, we might consider the problem of legislation when the facts are known. I think that it would be the height of unwisdom to legislate first, and find out the facts second. Therefore, my Lords, I press my Amendment.

The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Elwyn-jones)

My Lords, the original Question was that this Bill be now read a second time, since when an Amendment has been moved to leave out "now" and at end to insert "this day six months". The Question therefore is that this Amendment be agreed to.

6.33 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 96; Not-Contents, 39.

Alexander of Tunis, E. Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Allerton, L. Emmet of Amberley, B. Murray of Gravesend, L.
Amulree, L. Exeter, M. Northchurch, B.
Atholl, D. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Ogmore, L.
Auckland, L. Gisborough, L. Oram, L.
Bacon, B. Glasgow, E. Platt, L.
Balerno, L. Gridley, L. Popplewell, L.
Banks, L. Hacking, L. Rankeillour, L.
Belstead, L. Halsbury, E. Ridley, V.
Birdwood, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Blyton, L. Harvington, L. Romney, E.
Boothby, L. Hill of Luton, L. St. Davids, V.
Bridgeman, V. Hives, L. St. Just, L.
Brock, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. Sharples, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Stamp, L.
Burton, L. Hunt, L. [Teller.] Stanley of Alderley, L.
Carr of Hadley, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Stedman, B.
Cathcart, E. Jacques, L. Strabolgi, L.
Cawley, L. Killearn, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Champion, L. Kilmarnock, L. Sudeley, L.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Lee of Newton, L. Swansea, L.
Cobham, V. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Thorneycroft, L.
Congleton, L. Lyell, L. Thurlow, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Macleod of Borve, B. Thurso, V.
Cranbrook, E. MacLeod of Fuinary, L. Vernon, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Vickers, B.
Daventry, V. Mansfield, E. Vivian, L.
De L'Isle, V. Margadale, L. Waldegrave, E.
Denham, L. Mersey, V. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Drumalbyn, L. [Teller.] Monck, V. White, B.
Dulverton, L. Mottistone, L. Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Dundonald, E. Mountgarret, V. Wynne-Jones, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B.
Airedale, L. Greenway, L. Northfield, L.
Ardwick, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Phillips, B. [Teller.]
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hale, L. Rusholme, L.
Berkeley, B. Hanworth, V. Sandys, L.
Brockway, L. Jacobson, L. [Teller.] Selkirk, E.
Caradon, L. Kaldor, L. Sheffield, Bp.
Cornwallis, L. Kinnoull, E. Southwark, Bp.
de Clifford, L. Listowel, E. Spens, L.
Dormer, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Stone, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Molson, L. Strang, L.
Foot, L. Monson, L. Tranmire, L.
Granville of Eye, L. Morris, L. Wigoder, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.