HL Deb 12 December 1985 vol 469 cc411-53

House again in Committee on Clause 5.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Viscount Simon)

Before I call Amendment No. 20 I have to point out that there is a misprint in the amendment as it appears on the Marshalled List. The first line should read Page 5, line 7, at end insert— the words on the Marshalled List.

[Amendment No. 20 not moved.]

Lord Melchett moved Amendment No. 21: Page 5, line 17, at end insert— ("( ) A project licence shall not be granted for behavioural studies designed to reveal information not for use in the treatment of disease in human beings.").

The noble Lord said: In view of the fact that we started slightly on the wrong foot in the case of my Amendment No. 19, maybe I should stress that I have tabled this one simply as a probing amendment. I have no intention of pressing it, and I do not think an absolute prohibition of this kind should be in the Bill. However, it seems to me, as I said at Second Reading, that, again, this is an area about which there is considerable disquiet among the general public and among many scientists, including those involved in behavioural research. It is for that reason, to express that disquiet and to see what, if anything, will be in the Home Secretary's mind when he considers project licence applications for this kind of research, that I have tabled this amendment.

I hope that will reassure the Minister. I do not want to cause any trouble; I simply think that in relation to areas where there is a great deal of public concern it is worth using the parliamentary stages of this Bill, particularly the Committee stage, to see whether we can have any information about the way in which the Home Secretary will view applications for research of this kind.

I have said that there is some scientific concern about this kind of research, behavioural studies using animals, which is designed to throw light on human behaviour. I am not talking about studies which are designed to throw light on human disease or potential treatments for disease. I hope we can leave the pharmaceutical industry out of it, for this amendment at least, because the amendment does not cover that, and indeed deliberately excludes it.

I should like to quote a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and, indeed, a past president of the Psychology Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Alice Heim, who, in a speech in 1980, said about the kind of research which I am querying: But for me the big questions are: have we learned much that is new or beneficial from these thousands of experiments? And—whatever may have been learned—is the infliction of so much pain and terror warrantable? And, finally, is there any possible justification for duplicating and reduplicating this sort of experiment or variants of it, when the results are known and are readily ascertainable by means of films, books and articles in Journals?

To give a particular example of the kind of experiment which I believe that speaker had in mind, I should like to cite a report in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology in 1984 of experiments carried out at the University of Sussex by G. Goodall to examine factors which affect learning when rats are punished. The punishment varied from a variety of shocks, 20 at a fairly low intensity to 2 at a higher intensity, in each case over a 5-minute period. As part of the experiment, the animals were starved to 80 per cent. of their normal body weight.

In a rather similar kind of experiment, but this time on rats to look at their aggression and to induce fighting, a study was carried out, this time reported in 1982 by Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behaviour, a journal. This was about rats which were induced to take part in shock-induced fighting. This was something that had been done in the case of mice but had not apparently been done in the case of rats, and that was the reason for the experiment being carried out. It seems to me that there is a degree of duplication involved in those two studies.

I have deliberately taken only two. I have not gone into some which involve a great deal more suffering for the animals. I have deliberately tried to take two experiments which were reported very recently, one only last year. That is because one of the arguments that has been put to me personally has been that these kinds of experiments just do not happen any more. That may be the case. Normally, experiments are not reported until some years after they are conducted, and an experiment reported last year may have been conducted some years earlier. There is not normally any way of knowing that for certain.

Bearing in mind that I do not want to press the amendment, my questions to the noble Lord are these. Is this something about which the Home Secretary will be concerned when he looks at project licence applications? I do not expect the noble Lord to comment on the particular examples I have given, but are experiments of this kind ones which happen much less in 1985 than they did in 1980 or 1981? Have the numbers of experiments of this kind declined as dramatically in recent years as some people have told me? I beg to move.

Lord Northfield

I do not like to cross swords again with my noble friend but I have to take the amendment as it is drafted: It says: behavioural studies designed to reveal information not for use in the treatment of disease". The real difficulty is in defining all those terms. If one takes, for example, growing old in our society, this has an effect on the brain, it is not a disease. I understand that scientists are gradually finding out that it is just simply that as we grow older certain fluids, or whatever they are, do not flow to the brain as they used to do and do not cause the brain to behave in a normal way. Such a person's symptoms are funny behaviour. There is no disease. It is simply the case of somebody getting older. I remember the same argument when we were talking about spectacles. I remember, and the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, remembers, that for 30 years I was trying to put over the point that the need for spectacles as one grows older is not a sign of having disease: it is just that one is normally and naturally ageing and that one should not be regarded as having a disease and referred to the monopoly of opticians for the supply of corrective lenses.

I take another example: stress. Stress is not a disease. It is again a behavioural matter—namely, that under certain circumstances people show symptoms of stress and scientists need to study what chemical reactions take place in the brain and produce the symptoms of stress and try to find a relief for that in human beings.

Both those examples are very obvious. They are not diseases; animal testing on both of those would be prohibited by this amendment. I beg my noble friend to realise that he may have some worthwhile ideas to pursue but it is almost impossible, in these borderline cases, to find words in the statute that cover a cast-iron situation. Just for those two examples alone, I should strongly oppose this amendment.

Lord Glenarthur

I must say that I very much share the views which the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, has expressed. He referred to stress and I have to say that the experience of many experts in that field to whom I have spoken over the last few weeks bears them out. I rather feel that this amendment would stand in the way of much very valuable scientific progress if it were accepted. I am sure that the noble Lord does not want in any sense to stand in the way of the advancement of scientific progress.

The other matter which slightly worries me is that he specifically prevents this kind of work being done unless it is for the treatment of disease in human beings. Also it slightly runs in the face of another amendment which he has down later on the Marshalled List, about the conditions in which animals are kept, and compares them with zoos. I shall not anticipate this argument but I feel to some extent that where one has to carry out behavioural studies to see whether animals are suited to the conditions in which they are kept, this does not exactly tie in with it.

However, more seriously than that, I have to tell him that of course the Home Secretary has asked the advisory committee looking at licences specifically to look at the whole area of psychological and behavioural research. It is a matter which, I understand, concerns a lot of people and it obviously concerns the noble Lord, Lord Melchett. My right honourable friend awaits with some interest the report which they will produce. I honestly believe that the words which he quoted and which involved so much "pain or terror", if I have the words right, is rather an exaggeration. I myself have seen behavioural studies carried out with animals which have extremely good foundations in science. If he talks to an expert who has carried out this sort of work he will understand the advantages that it would lead to. With that explanation and with his acknowledgment that it is only a probing amendment, I hope he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Melchett

I am very glad to hear that the advisory committee are looking into this. But, as I understood what the noble Lord said, the advisory committee have been looking into it for some time and are due to report to the Home Secretary in due course. He did not say when. I wondered if the advisory committee will be looking into the problem in the context of the regime which would be set up under this Bill where the Secretary of State will have to take into account the likely benefits which will accrue from the research as against the suffering of the animals. If that is the case—the noble Lord is nodding—perhaps he could confirm that.

Lord Glenarthur

I can assure the noble Lord that that is the case.

Lord Melchett

That is very encouraging and I look forward to seeing what the advisory committee have to say about this.

Before I withdraw the amendment, I would quarrel with the noble Lord on one point. He suggested that the use of the word "terror" and so on was an exaggeration. A lot of these experiments are designed to terrorise the animal; they are designed to induce fear or aggression. There are experiments to look at the aggressiveness of rats where the test is how soon the rats will kill mice in a cage. It is hard to suggest that that is not inducing some terror in the mice at least. And there are experiments which involve electric shocks, deprivation, reducing body weight by 80 per cent. and so on. These are bound to involve a fair amount of terror and suffering. I should not have thought that that was arguable—but the noble Lord is looking unhappy about that.

Lord Glenarthur

I am unhappy because I think that the noble Lord really is exaggerating a little. Of course, any suggestion that the animals suffer to the extent of losing their body weight by perhaps 80 per cent. is something in which the inspectors would take a very keen interest. The noble Lord has not spelled out exactly what sort of work he is referring to, but I believe that he is introducing something of a red herring. That is the sort of interest which the inspectors are expressly there for the purpose of examining. I am sure that they will not let it go unnoticed.

Lord Melchett

We will not pursue this because I do not think that either of us are experts—certainly I myself am not. I had understood that the reduction of an animal's body weight by 80 per cent. was a fairly standard procedure in behavioural testing and research and that there was not anything particularly unusual about it. Certainly the induction of electric shock is there. With respect, I do not think t was exaggerating.

Lord Glenarthur

I agree that we should not prolong this but I am advised that the noble Lord is quite wrong. If I discover ultimately that the noble Lord in any sense is correct (which I simply do not believe is possible) then I shall stand to correct what I have said. But I honestly believe that it is something of an exaggeration and I do not think that he ought to be carried away by what he has read in some curious part of the world.

Lord Melchett

As I have said, we shall not prolong it. My understanding is different from the noble Lord's. We shall both have to take advice to see who is right. But I am grateful for the information he has given me about the advisory committee looking into this. As I said earlier, I look forward to seeing the report that they produce and the advice that they give the Home Secretary in due course. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley moved Amendment No. 22: Page 5, line 17, at end insert— ("( ) A project licence shall not be granted for the purposes of testing on the eyes of animals (Draize Test) or for the purpose of ascertaining the lethal dose which kills 50 per cent. (or some other percentage) of the subject animals (L.D. 50 Test).").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is about the Draize and LD. 50 Test. I take the point that this Bill is designed not to include specific references like this. Nevertheless, I bring this forward at the Committee stage not least so that it should go on record that it has been discussed, in the same way as my noble friend Lord Airedale did on a previous amendment. The Draize Test and the LD. 50 Test are tests which have occasioned a considerable amount of revulsion on the part of the general public. I myself feel very considerable revulsion about the whole basic idea of the LD. 50 Test.

In addition to this, these tests are sharply opposed by the whole of the welfare lobby, and I understand that they have very few supporters among serious scientists. However, they are beloved of bureaucrats and tend to be used to satisfy regulations, regulations which usually do not specify what sort of test has to be used, and therefore these ones will do as well as any.

They are used not only for the testing of drugs but also for household products, cosmetics, weedkillers and so on. I think there is little doubt that they should be phased out happily and modern and more humane toxicity testing which exists, and which I understand is available, should be used instead. If all this is so, and I think that most of it is certainly so, there is a strong case for writing the banning of these tests into the Bill. But even if that is rejected, and I think that it may well be, we should place on record that what this Bill is partly about is the ability to reject, and to continue to reject, this kind of testing.

The Earl of Halsbury

If the object of this debate is to place things on record, I must place on record that the Draize Test is obsolete. It is no longer used. It was invented in a hurry to investigate the allegation that a certain type of eyebrow black and eyelash black was sending women blind. It was. A very large number of women were saved from being blinded by blinding two rabbits. There was, of course, criticism of the test at the time. But the test is obsolete: it is no longer used. So why bring that up now?—as somebody said when the whale landed Jonah on the shores of Nineveh.

So far as beauty preparations are concerned, we are dealing with a spectrum—are we not on Amendment No. 23?

Noble Lords

No, No. 22.

The Earl of Halsbury

I am so sorry; I apologise.

Lord Melchett

I was very interested to hear the noble Earl say that the Draize eye irritancy test is no longer in use at all and is obsolete. It would be helpful to have that confirmed by the Government. If that is the case, it is new information to me. At Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, and I disagreed about the extent to which the LD.50 Test was used in the pharmaceutical industry. I have been told on a visit to pharmaceutical companies that the LD.50 Test was not used in research to develop new pharmaceutical products. I understand that it is used for safety testing and indeed may be a requirement for safety testing of products.

But in the research and development of new pharmaceutical products, as I understand it, the LD.50 test is not now needed.

It will be interesting to have that on the record, if that is the case, because there was some disagreement at Second Reading and, on looking at what was said, I can see that the noble Lord and I may have been talking at cross purposes; I am afraid not for the first time. I had meant to make it clear that my understanding was that the LD.50 test was not used in research and development of new pharmaceutical products whereas it may be a statutory or legal requirement in safety testing of a number of things. I regret that, and I hope that we can get rid of it as soon as possible. If the LD.50 test and the Draize eye test are both obsolete that would be a great step forward and it would be helpful to have both things officially on the record.

The Earl of Halsbury

There is no rule against speaking twice on the same amendment. I am so sorry that my eye passed down from No. 22 to No. 23, for which I again tender an apology to the Committee. Of course the LD.50 test is not needed in the case of cosmetics. You do not have to kill half a batch of mice by filling them up with cold cream, which is in any case a well-tested product. Statistically, it can be shown that the LD.50 test uses fewer animals than LD.25 or LD.75: that is just a piece of mathematics. So it is the most economic test you can do on animals, where requisite.

There are certain conditions where it is requisite and I must introduce your Lordships, perhaps unnecessarily, to the concept of the chemotherapeutic index, which is the ratio between the dose that cures and the dose that kills. In the case of carcinolytic drugs—those that poison cancer cells more readily than normal cells in the body—this chemotherapeutic index is very low. I am sure many of your Lordships must have heard of the fact that chemotherapy is a pretty miserable business for those who have to endure it—your skin goes wrong, your eyes fall out and so on. The difference of dosage between the dose that cures and the dose that kills is very small in the case of cancer chemotherapy. Therefore it is necessary to know this with very great accuracy. It is not necessary to know this in the case of cold cream or any of the pharmaceutical preparations that are used. Of course there are conditions where it is impossible to be quite sure which amendment we are debating—whether No. 22 or No. 23—and I shall come back on that later.

I should like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, that really this question of using the LD.50 test on cosmetic products is just not on. One uses instead what is called a "limit" test: that is, you ask yourself the sensible question of how much cold cream taken from her mother's dressing table a child could possibly swallow in the case of one repast or orgy. If you express that as a percentage of the body weight and you feed that percentage of the body weight to a mouse, that is what is called the limit test, and, if the mouse survives the limit test, you can assume that the child will survive her parent's cold cream.

That is the sort of way in which pharmaceutical products are tested. They are nearly all composites of very well-known substances, and there is very little that one needs to learn about them—always remembering that when, in response to legislation in Parliament, you test something for safety, you do it in the belief that the substance is safe. In probably 99 cases out of 100 it is, and the animal which is dosed by it suffers no ill effects at all. You do not make mice, voluntarily or involuntarily, swallow large doses of sulphuric acid, because you know that sulphuric acid is dangerous; it is poisonous and it will kill them. You do not ask them to swallow cyanide of potassium, nicotine or any of the well-known organic substances. You test things for safety in the belief that they are safe, and in 99 cases out of 100 that is precisely what they are. But the hundredth case that goes wrong can cause a tremendous amount of social disturbance when it is released into society. I would ask your Lordships to think of what happened over the thalidomide cases, for instance, where we were dealing with a completely unknown phenomenon. Parliament has legislated, saying that these things have to be done: and they who will the end must will the means. There is no more to it than that.

Lord Glenarthur

This amendment provides us with a welcome opportunity to discuss issues which I realise have given rise to quite a measure of public concern, as the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, himself said. I must reassure him that the Government recognise that there is considerable public concern about the Draize eye irritancy test. I have to say also that much of that concern, regrettably, has been deliberately manufactured by extreme opponents of animal experiments, using emotive pictures at least some of which, if not all, have not stemmed from this country: and there have been wildly distorted claims and reports taken out of context.

The Draize eye test is used to test substances for eye irritancy, and that is an essential part of the safety testing of many products, including some medicines. Much initial screening work is carried out without the need to use live animals, using in vitro methods. Animals are still needed for the final stages of testing, but by then the most potentially irritant substances have usually been screened out. The test itself, as commonly carried out in the United Kingdom, frequently stops short of the end-points laid down in international regulations.

I hope it will reassure the noble Lord if I say that there is a very great deal of work going on on alternatives to the Draize test but, regrettably, so far no complete replacement for it has been found. The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said he thought the test was not used at all. I am open to correction if his knowledge on this is greater than mine: I believe that the Draize eye test is certainly not much used according to the original protocol invented by Draize himself, but the modified Draize test is now used. I am sure he will agree that our aim must be to ensure that the test is used only where necessary and that the severe effects are eliminated or minimised.

The Earl of Halsbury

I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way so that I can clear this point up. It does not matter what name it goes by—call it the Draize test for reasons of continuity—but the modern way is to use an ophthalmic microscope directed at the cornea of the rabbit, put a very small quantity of the suspected substance on the cornea and watch the potential development of damage to the cornea of the rabbit. When the microscope shows that the cornea is being damaged, then the test is suspended.

Lord Glenarthur

I am sure the noble Earl is quite correct in that, but I understand—and it would be misleading if I were to say otherwise—that occasionally there is a requirement, with a very, very mild final solution of whatever it is, for it to be applied to the eye. But certainly it is nothing like the original Draize test to which the noble Earl referred.

As well as supporting international moves towards altering requirements for product safety, we are consulting the industries about the use of the Draize test in this country with a view to producing guidelines that will ensure that the best practice is adopted by all involved in the administration of the tests. I am quite sure that the Committee will welcome these moves.

I should now like to turn to the LD.50 evaluation. Toxicity testing remains essential if medicines and other products used daily in industry and in the home are to be safe. But obtaining formal LD.50 values—which provide a measure of acute toxicity by determining the dose which kills half the animals in a sample—is much less common than most people imagine. Formal LD.50s are seldom, if ever, used in the production of pharmaceuticals, and I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, that so far as we know it is true that LD.50 values are not sought in pharmaceutical research. Increasingly they are being replaced by "limit" tests, involving the comprehensive observation of toxic effects in a very small number of animals or, alternatively, an estimate of the minimum lethal dose. That, too, would probably also be prohibited if the noble Lord's amendment were to be taken literally, although I recognise that that is a finer drafting point.

As I mentioned in the debate on Second Reading, there is still some need for LD.50 values. They are essential for some purposes: for example, as one of your Lordships explained, the testing of some powerful anti-cancer drugs whose therapeutic dose is very close to the lethal dose and, above all, in the standardisation and testing of essential vaccines. What we can and shall do is to encourage international regulatory bodies to continue their re-examination of the need for LD.50 values and we shall ensure through the system of project licensing that alternative methods of toxicity testing are used wherever possible. Here the Government welcome the special report of the British Toxicology Society's working party published last year, which explored a number of measures further to reduce severe toxicity tests using animals. We are awaiting with great interest the outcome of the field trials, which the British Toxicology Society has set up following the report, and I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the society for its patient and expert work in this very sensitive and important area.

I think that the noble Lord's amendment has given us a chance to debate a matter of concern. I hope that it has also been able to reassure him that these things are being reduced wherever possible, and that certainly the Government, among many others, take these matters extremely seriously and realise the concern which many people feel. I trust that he will be able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

This debate has given an opportunity for us to get some important information, particularly on the Draize test. I certainly am considerably the wiser for that. On the LD.50 test, I still have a basic philosophical objection to that kind of testing, but I very much welcome the Government's determination to go on reviewing the situation with the intention of reducing it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley moved Amendment No. 23: Page 5, line 17, at end insert— ("( ) A project licence shall not be granted for the testing of beauty preparations or weapons.").

The noble Lord said: I intend to withdraw this amendment. I certainly do not intend to take it to a vote, not least because of the fact that the second part of it, the weapons part, we have already discussed. But I shall take the opportunity, this amendment being on the Marshalled List at the Committee stage, to raise the subject of the testing of beauty preparations.

I know that cosmetic and beauty preparations are used for a number of different things. Often in these debates we are told—I am sure quite rightly—that a lot of them are used purely for very worthwhile purposes, such as helping those who are disfigured. I do not really think that that goes to the heart of what this amendment is about because although cosmetic preparations are undoubtedly used for that purpose, not a great proportion of them are and I suspect that those that are are those whose components are already known. As the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said on a previous amendment about the whole of this area, a lot of the products are composites of very well-known substances, anyway.

But I think there is a moral revulsion at the idea of making animals suffer in order to test any large quantity of products which are only for man's vanity or are superfluous to our real needs. I certainly have such a revulsion. On this matter, I go along with the theology of the late C. S. Lewis, who was in so many ways not the kind of person to take a soft line on this aspect, but who found himself morally revolted by the using of animals for human beings for any purposes which were not really essential for human beings. Certainly, he would have found himself revolted about using animals for purposes of luxury which on the whole—give or take the odd exception—is what cosmetics are about. There is a real point at issue here—I think the public as a whole realise that there is a real point at issue here—and this is a very serious amendment, even though at this moment it is not particularly well drafted. I beg to move.

The Earl of Halsbury

Once more for the record I ask this Committee, what is beauty? I am not asking what Helen of Troy looked like. I ask your Lordships to take a quite ordinary young woman, no different from her neighbours, and push her face through a windscreen in a motorcar accident, so that she has one long slashed scar from her right eyebrow down to her left jaw, every inch of it scar tissue. Scar tissue has an enhanced tumorogenic capacity. It is more likely to develop into a tumour than normal flesh. Should she not have assurance that any medium she uses to disguise that disfigurement has been carefully tested to make sure that it will not exercise a tumorogenic property upon that scar? There is an old principle that the punishment should not exceed the crime. In the case of a woman who is punished with cancer for the crime of vanity, if it is a crime, are we not requiring that the punishment does exceed the crime and is the sacrifice of an animal such a very serious matter?

We must see these matters in perspective. It does not matter how many million rats you poison in the sewers provided that you do not contravene the Act covering cruel poisons, but you must not poison one in a laboratory without a licence. Does this general attitude really make sense? My sympathies are with that woman—and there are many of them—who has to go through life disfigured possibly because of somebody else's carelessness in, through having had too much to drink, driving his car into her car.

I believe that our compassion should be turned in that direction, remembering always that in these matters we are dealing with situational ethics. We wake up into a situation which we never created, but for one mysterious reason or another responsibility for dealing with it is assigned to us. In these circumstances, the kind of superficial moral philosophies based on hedonism or utilitarianism are not very much help.

I realise the excellence of all the motives that inspired the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. From the moral point of view, he has my admiration. But from the common sense point of view, I think that this kind of amendment is only likely to make a bad situation worse and therefore I oppose it.

Lord Auckland

I think that the Committee will have followed with much interest the very pertinent words of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, but I wonder whether we are in danger of getting words mixed up. Is there a difference between beauty and cosmetics? My understanding is that tests for cosmetics also include tests on things like toothpaste and shampoo; and, after all, dental caries, particularly among young people, is still a very serious complaint and so is alopecia.

There are also the problems of skin diseases, such as impetigo and psoriasis, as I ventured to suggest on Second Reading. Therefore, I wonder whether my noble friend the Minister could tell the Committee whether under this amendment we would be covering only the literally beautifying things, such as lipstick, Chanel No. 5, and so on, which I do not think are as vital as the shampoos and other necessities. Perhaps skin complaints which still cause distress, particularly to the female sex, can be decimated by these tests, whether or not we all like them, and I am quite sure that these and other tests are not desired if alternative means can be found.

Lord Northfield

I have some sympathy with this amendment. I was relieved when the noble Lord defined it as "beauty preparations" rather than as "cosmetics" because cosmetics cover some important things, as the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, said, such as soap, toothpaste and shampoo. I feel that the noble Lord is firing at the wrong target. I am no expert but I helped the cosmetics industry to get its case heard in Brussels, as the noble Lord will be glad to hear, to prevent the necessity for the retesting of hundreds of their products. At last I think we have reached agreement in Brussels so that many of them do not need to be retested. Although I have no brief for the industry, I still think that we should be looking at what is in the EC Directive of 1978. This is the real problem.

The 1978 EC Directive provides that products must not be liable to cause damage to human health when they are applied under conditions of normal use. On the basis of that, and with a Committee in Brussels on cosmetology, they have set up a series of guidelines which specify the situations in which animal studies are required in assessing the safety of the ingredients and the finished products. The place to fight about this is in Brussels rather than here. I suspect that the British cosmetics industry will be rather relieved if we can get Brussels or the Community to delete a good deal more of the animal testing that takes place under that EC Directive.

Nevertheless, we have to be careful because even if we got that directive right and we began to outlaw a certain amount of animal testing even further than has been done already, we would still be left with the Health and Safety at Work Act which would put a liability on the producers to be sure that substances are safe and without risk to health when properly used. In many cases if they proved not to be and they had not been adequately tested one could find that very innocent as well as terribly guilty producers of cosmetics could be sued for very large sums. We are between the devil and the deep on this one. I hope that the Minister will say that he agrees with me that the way forward is to continue our discussions in Brussels and hopefully and gradually to reduce the number of animal tests required under the 1978 Directive.

Lord Melchett

Perhaps I may say a brief word in response to something that the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said. At various stages today we have been in danger of rehearsing the old arguments which the noble Earl knows well have been gone over many times before with a reiteration of debating points rather than a discussion of the amendments which have been put on the Marshalled List. It has happened to me, and I have some sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, because it seems to have happened to his amendment. As I read it the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, has taken some trouble to avoid the very argument which the noble Earl spent his speech developing: that there are some uses for what might be called cosmetics where there is a genuine medical or psychological need for the product to be used. He gave the example of a person with a scar across his face. That surely is not what the amendment is aimed at or where the real argument lies.

The Earl of Halsbury

I asked, what is beauty? Will the noble Lord give me an answer?

8.45 p.m.

Lord Melchett

The noble Earl asked the question: "What is beauty?" He then went on to develop the argument about scar tissue—somebody with a serious injury which needed some covering up and where there was a serious medical danger of a cancer developing. The noble Earl may have asked the question: "What is beauty?" but he went on to talk about a medical and clinical problem. The answer to the noble Earl's point is that there are many companies now which sell beauty products and which say quite openly that the products have not been involved in any animal testing in their development or safety testing, and that that is seen as a selling point. The argument put by those who oppose any remaining tests that are done is that if some companies can do this for beauty preparations, why should not all of them do so? Although the noble Earl may have asked an interesting question, I do not think, with respect, that he actually addressed himself to the question which the amendment itself raises.

Lord Todd

I should like to make one point on this matter. The real problem of this amendment is that there is a fantastic difficulty in trying to define what we mean by a beauty preparation. I feel that we should stick to the general idea of the Bill and leave it to the Home Secretary with the advice of his advisory committee to decide whether or not in a particular case action is necessary. After all, what is a beauty preparation? What do you say to a young girl who is suffering rather badly from acne and wants to put something on her face? Is that a beauty preparation, or what is it? One is up against a problem of definition here. We should always remember that when we are dealing with a Bill of this nature, the more we attempt to specify precisely what shall be done and what shall not be done the more unworkable we will make the Bill.

Lord Prys-Davies

I wonder whether the Committee will allow a layman to venture to express an opinion. I note that the noble Lord is not pressing the last part of his amendment. He says that he is not concerned with weapons, and that that has already been discussed—but in fact it has not. Amendment No. 18 referred to the study of wounds inflicted by weapons. I had understood that the noble Lord was concerned with measuring the destructive powers of weapons. Be that as it may, if he had in fact pressed the latter part of the amendment I think he would have found a great deal of support for it because it is difficult to justify causing harm to an animal in order to measure the destructive power of weapons.

I turn now to the first part of the amendment which bans the testing of beauty preparations. We are on more delicate ground here. I cannot say to any standard that beauty preparations generally can be said to be essential. On the other hand, they can be said to relate to the wellbeing of an individual. Is a sense of wellbeing sufficient justification for the experimentation? It was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Todd, that such a delicate matter should be left to the Secretary of State. I wonder whether experiments for the testing of beauty preparations is something that could be referred to the Animals Protection Committee.

Lord Glenarthur

The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, has explained very carefully the particular reasons why he considers it necessary to enact and express prohibition on the use of animals for beauty. He said he was not going to pursue the question of weapons, but then the point was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies. Perhaps I can reassure the noble Lord on this matter quite succinctly. It has been emphasised many times by the Government that in the United Kingdom animals are not used in work to improve weapons' or ammunition performance. This was a point I raised earlier in answer to my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard, and I do not think there is anything I can add to it. It simply does not happen.

The testing of cosmetic products, especially those which are considered vanity products, is of course a subject of frequent criticism. The Government accept that that deserves the most careful consideration as the debate has indicated it ought to. It is a question to which we have given a great deal of attention. But even if it were possible to isolate those products associated exclusively with beautification and which have no other conceivable benefit, we do not consider that an outright ban would be appropriate. It may help if I try to put the issue in some sort of perspective. The majority of cosmetics tests are, as my noble friend Lord Auckland described, concerned with toothpastes, soaps and other products, which most people would regard as essential to their daily health and welfare. Those products all have to be tested for safety, and quite properly so, to conform with stringent legal requirements. Those tests are relatively very few in number, and there is constant pressure to reduce them. The majority of procedures are done to test the irritancy of the finished products. Since they are by their very nature bland substances, their effects on the animals used really are minimal.

There were only 17,500 animals used in all cosmetics testing last year, out of a total of 3.5 million, and only a small proportion could be said to concern what have been described as beauty products. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, has advanced a case for isolating those products and banning them on the ground that they are not essential. But how is it to be determined what is essential and what is not? Some people would say that household products, industrial chemicals and many medicines were not essential. It seems to us illogical, as well as insidious, to single out certain cosmetics from all the other products which are tested on animals. A statutory prohibition would also raise formidable problems of definition. To take two examples, is a shampoo a beauty preparation or is it an aid to personal hygiene? Perhaps it is both. And is the blushing agent used to disguise a permanent facial scar that the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and the noble Lord, Lord Todd, described a beauty preparation or something essential to the psychological wellbeing of the unfortunate person who must use it?

I cannot help in the discussion about trying to define what is beauty. We all know that it lies in the eye of the beholder, but I would add that it lies also in giving self-confidence to she who seeks its use. I cannot put that point more ably than has already been done by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury.

At another level, how would the Secretary of State determine an application to test a new compound, knowing that it was likely to form the basis of a beauty preparation but that it might equally be put to other uses? We really cannot prejudge the issues in that way. To do so in respect of beauty preparations, weapons even, or any other particular type of research or testing would be inimical to the principle upon which the Bill is founded. The scheme of the Bill is that any research that satisfies one of the permissible purposes listed in Clause 5(3) should be scrutinised on its merits in each individual case. The system of project licensing will provide a far more detailed and discriminating method of amendment than has been possible until now.

The benefits of every programme of work will have to be carefully considered and weighed against the effects on animals. This will provide a fairer, more rigorous and more effective method of control than seeking to identify undesirable kinds of research or types of test and banning or restricting them in advance. To attempt to do that would be disastrous, both for the essential flexibility of the legislation, which was so adequately described earlier, and for the confidence our researchers and scientists have placed in it.

As I have said we believe that the use of animals in the essential safety testing of cosmetics products, including some beauty preparations, continues to be justified. We are committed to applying in those sensitive areas the most rigorous scrutiny. Project licensing will be the key to that. As an additional measure, the Animal Procedures Committee will be asked to examine all applications for project licences for work on cosmetics. I think that will reassure the noble Lord, Lord Melchett. By that means we shall be able to pay particular attention to that work and the scope for further reducing the use of animals and the severity of procedures.

It is only right to add that a prohibition on cosmetics testing, or any part of it, would result in the testing being transferred abroad, where controls are laxer and animals liable to suffer more. I cannot help but feel that that would diminish the United Kingdom's influence on the international moves that are being made to reduce and replace the use of animals in that kind of work.

I have said that the Government recognise public concern on this matter; of course we do. We take it very seriously. We shall continue to look for ways of improving the situation. But a prohibition in the Bill on isolated areas of research is not the way to do it. I hope that despite the noble Lord's understandable concern, he will see the force of the argument, realise that we are doing what we can to improve matters, both here and internationally, and accept that we will, through project licences, scrutinise most rigorously the work that is to be done. I hope that the noble Lord will feel sufficiently reassured to be able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I want to echo what was said a few moments ago by the noble Lord, Lord Todd. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, and my noble friend Lord Melchett are both pressing against the grain of this Bill. We are spending a lot of time on matters that are not in the Bill and that were not intended to be in the Bill. As I said on Second Reading, the Second Reading of this Bill implied acceptance of the purpose and structure of this Bill, which differs from all previous attempts. My noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, are pursuing the well-trodden path of reform in animal welfare that has wrecked all Private Members' Bills for the past 50 years.

One does not get anywhere in that way, for the simple reason that there are difficulties in the path of achieving the absolute ban, of achieving the specific remedy that is sought by animal welfare people but which they never secure. This debate is echoing the propaganda of animal welfare societies of the past 50 years, and it has got them nowhere. That is simply because they are absolutists and it is impossible to get an absolute ban inscribed in the statute.

Members seem to think that the only way to achieve something is to have it written into the statute law, as if there were no other way of achieving progress than by having it written into the statute law. The worship of the law in this country is one of the astonishing elements in the British character. There is probably more evasion of the law than people realise. With multi-nationals, if you have something stopped in London at the present time, it simply starts in Brussels, and so on. I beg noble Lords to look at what the Bill is there to do. The new Animal Procedures Committee is there to review all these matters intensely and it is about to do so.

We are not amending this Bill now; we are not looking at its structure. Members are trying to get provisions put into this Bill that are not intended to be there. The progress that will be made will be by careful examination of particular areas of difficulty and public concern. Let us try this new way. Do not let us go on battering at the door over beauty preparations, weapons, LD.50, and the Draize Test. I have felt very strongly about them in my time but now they are old hat. The area of investigation into the use of animals is increasing and widening the whole time, but still we hear the old arguments that are stuck in the minds and emotions of people from the past. I appeal for a fresh approach to this matter.

In this Chamber of all chambers, surely we must realise that those who have been active in this movement for years and years are responding to the promptings of animal welfare societies who cannot see beyond getting a taboo inserted into the Act—but that is just old-fashioned stuff. That is why we have devised this new approach. It is the foundation of the future. It is the opportunity of tomorrow. Those who I think will be engaged in it will see greater rewards with this method than any previously tried.

I have laboured long in trying to make progress, and here we are. My noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, are taking time, which is short on this Bill, in order to revive the controversies and the propaganda of the past. Let us look forward in the new concept, and look at the Bill to see whether it will achieve its purpose and whether it is constructed to attain the reforms that we desire. We shall then make progress.

It is breaking my heart the way we are going on, just frittering away the time and battering at closed doors. It is important that those doors should be opened but they can be opened the intelligent way—not the propaganda way and not the emotional way. There are difficulties in the way of everything raised that we want to forbid in this Bill, but the difficulties can be overcome by patient examination, by adapting methods to new requirements, and by a change in the whole outlook of public opinion. Let us get on with the Bill.

9 p.m.

Lord Melchett

I do not want to take up a lot of time because, as my noble friend said, time is short, although he took up some considerable time himself. I must say, however, that I very strongly objected to two remarks that he made. First, any amendments that appear in my name on the Marshalled List were tabled by me on my own behalf, as is the custom in this House. None was tabled on behalf of any other interests. If I may say so to my noble friend, I resent the suggestion that the amendments might be other than in my own name.

Secondly, I have to tell my noble friend that I was not aware that there was any guillotine proceedure in this House or that we are in an enormous hurry to get this Bill through. It is an important Bill. It is the first time that we have legislated on this issue, as the noble Lord knows very well, for over 100 years. It would be a grave mistake by this House or another place to try to deal with the Bill in a hurry. This is the first time we have had a chance to look at the Bill in detail and discuss the points that it raises. I hope that the House will take time in doing so and will make sure that the Bill is right. As the noble Lord said, we are passing this Bill in the hope that it will remain on the statute book for a long time.

Finally, I do not know whether my noble friend heard what I said in introducing my two amendments to this clause, but I made it perfectly clear that I respected the way that the Bill has been drafted and that I did not want to interfere with that. However, I said that I thought it important to have an opportunity to discuss these issues; indeed I think that some interesting and important points have come from these discussions, even if my noble friend does not agree.

I return to the amendment. I have one question to ask the noble Lord on the Government Front Bench. In a Question which he answered on Wednesday, 4th December concerning statistics on Draize eye tests and LD.50 tests he kindly said that when the statistical returns are revised to take account of the proposed legislation—that is, this Bill—the revised return would identify those two tests separately: the LD.50 test and Draize eye test. That is very welcome information.

I want to put this point to the noble Lord, although I do not expect an answer this evening. Perhaps he will consider it. When the statistical return is revised it might be possible to identify separately those cosmetic products which are used, as it were, for cleansing purposes—shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, and so on—which he says take up the bulk of the products in the statistic he gave us, and beauty preparations. I accept it will be difficult to separate beauty preparations which are purely make-up and those which have some clinical or other use. Nevertheless, it might be possible to refine the statistics in this area into more detail and help persuade people that change of the sort that the noble Lord said was taking place is taking place. I put that point for the noble Lord to consider.

Lord Glenarthur

I note the noble Lord's wish that the products should be differentiated in that way. I simply do not know whether it is possible. Frankly, I doubt it because I suspect that it will put an enormous burden on the administration of those returns and also, presumably, on the scientific bodies and research organisations that provide them. I may be wrong, but I will certainly consider the noble Lord's suggestion, without any commitment.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

I think that many of your Lordships, even those not present tonight, will read in Hansard with great interest tomorrow the conversion of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, to the doctrine of brevity in your Lordships' House.

I do not accept the doctrine which he put forward that your Lordships should only put forward amendments which fit in to the Bill as he visualises it, or as the Government visualise it. I am putting forward amendments—there are not many of them; I have reached the end of this batch and there are not many afterwards—which I think raise important points of principle. It is important that they should be aired and seen to be aired on the Floor of your Lordships' House. I do not do it on behalf of anyone, although I understand that the RSPCA agrees with a number of the amendments which I have tabled. I am emphatically not wasting time, as a number of your Lordships with whom I have discussed the timetabling of progress will know, and if anyone catches me wasting time in the sense of speaking for too long in making a particular point I will be grateful if he will tell me—not now, but later. However, I think I am not guilty.

It is difficult to come back to the points raised. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, for pointing out the error I made about not raising the subject of weapons. I am delighted that the Minister took advantage of the noble Lord mentioning that to produce that assurance which is doubly welcome.

The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, raised the issue of terminology, as did other noble Lords, concerning beauty products and cosmetics. The discussions show that whatever you do you cannot get it right and perhaps the answer to that—and perhaps the answer that would be put forward—is that therefore you should not try to get it right because it is an impossible task. I do not think that it is as simple as that. I slightly challenge the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury. If I had a foolproof definition I suspect he would still have been against me. With him, I am in favour of situation ethics. I think that as a last resort there is no alternative but situation ethics and I am with him on that.

However, I think he raised it in a case where it was not necessarily relevant. I did not think that the argument which we had previously about the lady with the scar on her face is really a valid one. Are people trying to say that there are not beauty products and cosmetic products which have already been thoroughly tested, either on animals or not, which would perfectly well deal with any case like that? I am absolutely certain that there are. I think that this point is a red herring.

I think the point that we need to carry the debate into Brussels is a very important one, and I think that the debates which we have here in this way are valuable in preparing the ground for it.

There comes a moment when mankind should not go on expanding commerce just because there might be a marginal demand for something or because there might be a marginal profit from it, and where we say that it is not worthwhile inflicting pain and death on animals for such a purpose. Whatever other noble Lords may think, I feel that this debate was useful if only for the reassurance that we have from the Minister, which was spelled out in a very forthright way and which is now in Hansard. I think this debate was worthwhile. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley moved Amendment No. 24: Page 5, line 17, at end insert— ("( ) A project licence shall not be granted if a feasible alternative method not using live animals is available.").

The noble Lord said: Your Lordships' Committee will be very relieved to hear that this is the last of this particular batch of amendments. This particular point is an important one. Some provision for it was made in the White Paper, but it has been omitted from the Bill. The White Paper stated in paragraph 38: An application for a personal licence will have to be supported by a senior licensee with personal knowledge of the applicant … This sponsor will be asked to express his opinion as to whether:

  1. (a) the project is likely to achieve the declared purpose;
  2. (b) any alternative non-sentient method would satisfactorily and reliably achieve the purpose;
  3. (c) the type of animals which it is proposed to use is appropriate.".
That has not come into the Bill, or really, so far as I can see, into the code of practice. However, I still think it is a very important principle that if there is a feasible alternative method not using live animals it should be used. I think that this is an ethical demand which we can only reject for the best of all possible reasons, and I do not yet know what they are. I beg to move.

Lord Northfield

I should like quickly to say to my noble friend that it is in the guidelines on page 21, paragraph (b): whether thorough consideration has been given to the use of alternative methods and the use of live animals as the only feasible means of achieving the purpose.". That satisfies me.

The Earl of Halsbury

I should like to make a very brief intervention. Alternative methods are cheaper. Scientists are perpetually hard up. No one wants to use animals if there is an alternative method, so the economics of the entire process are on the side of the animal. That is the only point I want to make. I believe that this particular amendment is unnecessary because of the economics of the process.

Lord Auckland

I believe that Clause 5(5) largely meets the purport of this amendment. In any case it is my understanding that fewer animals are being used now than were used, say, 10 years ago. I should have thought that, leaving aside the guidelines, Clause 5(5), which certainly covers cats, dogs and primates, which are the most emotive concern of this Bill and quite rightly so, would solve the problem.

Lord Glenarthur

I rather gathered from the nod that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, gave to the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, when he mentioned that it really was covered in the guidelines, that I need not be particularly long in answering his point. I can simply say that the question of whether an alternative method of research is feasible or whether a feasible method is available in any given circumstance is really highly subjective. It is not something that the project licence applicant, the inspector, the Secretary of State or anyone else can know for certain. The effect of the amendment would be to make the validity of a project licence dependent upon whether any feasible alternative method of research was available at the time the authority was granted, which is something which cannot be determined in any clear-cut way.

What are the other factors to be considered in determining applications? The noble Lord will know that the major ones are listed in paragraphs 49 to 58 of the draft guidance notes. The whole structure of the Bill is that all the details of what the Secretary of State will take into account are not in the Bill itself. We shall be bound to have got some of it wrong, no doubt, but it would be irremediably wrong without further primary legislation, and frankly that would be a fairly catastrophic result. So I hope that the noble Lord will be reassured.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

I thank noble Lords. I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, was quite right. I think that Clause 5(5) does not cover the point. I should still prefer the provision to be in the body of the Bill, but I take the Minister's point and understand his position. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Scientific procedure establishments]:

[Amendment No. 25 not moved.]

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 26: Page 5, line 35, after ("below") insert ("a person or").

The noble Lord said: This is a paving amendment related to Amendment No. 32, at the bottom of the page. Amendment No. 32: Page 5, line 43, at end insert— ("and the same person may, if the Secretary of State thinks fit, be specified under both paragraphs of this subsection.").

Clause 6 deals with the conditions under which establishments for scientific procedures shall receive a certificate of approval. Two conditions required to be fulfilled are the appointment of: a person to be responsible for the day-to-day care of the protected animals", and, a veterinary surgeon or other suitably qualified person to provide advice on their health and welfare".

The Secretary of State has received representations that in some circumstances the same person may act in both capacities. That applies particularly to establishments which may ask for a certificate where there is a resident veterinary surgeon. It may be convenient, though only with the permission of the Secretary of State, for one person to fulfil both responsibilities, and a certificate may be obtained on that basis. That is what the combination of the two amendments would enable.

Instead of the word "persons", which contemplates two in every case, the amendment would substitute "a person or persons" so that it would cover establishments where the Secretary of State agrees that one person may carry out those responsibilities. I beg to move Amendment No. 26, which will lead in due course to Amendment No. 32.

9.15 p.m.

Viscount Davidson

I believe that Amendment No. 26 is related not only to Amendment No. 32 but to Amendments Nos. 33, 36, 40 and 41.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

Yes, but I thought that that was too much to ask the Committee to swallow at once, and it is possible to separate this item from the others. With the permission of the Committee, if it will agree to this small change of "person or persons", the main issue can come later in its proper place.

Viscount Davidson

I am most grateful to the noble Lord. At least the Committee knows that that is the intention. In the circumstances, I think that it will be best if I speak at a later stage on this group of amendments. But I am quite happy with this amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 27 not moved.]

Lord Melchett moved Amendment No. 28: Page 5, line 37, at end insert— ("( ) A certificate shall not be issued under this section in respect of any establishment keeping wild animals (as defined in section 21 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981) for experimental or other scientific purposes unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that the establishment will meet the standards with respect to the management of wild animals in captivity specified by the Secretary of State under section 9 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981").

The noble Lord said: It might be for the convenience of the Committee if with this amendment we discuss Amendment No. 37, which covers exactly the same point. Amendment No. 37: Clause 7, page 6, line 37, at end insert— ("( ) A certificate shall not be issued under this section in respect of any breeding or supplying establishment breeding or supplying wild animals (as defined in section 21 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981) unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that the establishment will meet the standards with respect to the management of wild animals in captivity specified by the Secretary of State under section 9 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981".).

Amendment No. 28 would establish a requirement that wild animals as defined in the Zoo Licensing Act—and that is those animals which are not commonly domesticated in the United Kingdom—are kept in the sort of conditions laid down by the Secretary of State under the Act. Amendment No. 28 would apply the requirement to scientific procedure establishments and Amendment No. 37 would place the same requirement on breeding and supplying establishments.

I appreciate that there are a number of differences between zoos, which display animals for the public to visit, and establishments where animals are kept and bred for experiments in laboratories or establishments where they are kept for such experiments. Nevertheless, it seems to me that it would be useful either in the Bill or in the guidelines for the Secretary of State to be required by Parliament to address his mind more explicitly than is the case now to the conditions in which wild animals are kept.

I have a different amendment on the keeping of domestic animals. I suggest that it might be easier to take that amendment separately unless the noble Lord would like to cover all three together. The other is Amendment No. 38. At the moment, however, if no one wants to suggest otherwise, I shall stick with Amendments Nos. 28 and 37.

The requirement under these amendments would be that standards already drawn up by the Government and which are in the process of being applied by the Government to zoos would be applied also to establishments licensed under the Bill. I said in my Second Reading speech that one of the possibly neglected areas—I hope that my noble friend Lord Houghton will forgive me raising the matter in these circumstances—is the conditions under which laboratory animals, whether in establishments for research or breeding establishments, are kept. Animals used for breeding purposes may spend all their lives in a breeding establishment. Many laboratory animals in scientific procedure establishments will be there for some considerable time.

Some of these animals, particularly primates, but also others, will be animals that are now known to have highly developed sensibilities. They are social animals. They live normally in social groupings. They form close attachments to their parents, their brothers and sisters and their children in the same way that human beings do. Studies in the wild show that these animals suffer great grief if they lose an animal related to them, and so on.

One of the reasons why Parliament agreed to pass the Zoo Licensing Act in 1981 was the increase in our knowledge about the requirements for keeping animals in captivity in ways that did not cause them severe psychological stress. I do not believe that this is an issue that has been widely discussed when it comes to keeping in captivity wild animals that will be used for laboratory purposes. I think it should be. I hope that the noble Lord will agree that, even if this amendment is not acceptable and the standards laid down under the Zoo Licensing Act pose problems, there is nevertheless a requirement for more detailed guidelines on how wild animals should be kept in captivity in premises licensed under this Bill than is currently envisaged either in the Bill or in the guidelines. I beg to move.

Lord Auckland

The amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, certainly deserves study. I wonder whether my noble friend the Minister can tell the Committee how many of these animals are wild animals as defined in the amendment, as opposed to those which are bred and kept in this country. I assume that it is mainly monkeys that are referred to. I visited an establishment recently where monkeys are bred and kept for the purpose of research, as I mentioned on Second Reading. With two honourable friends from the other place, I visited the cages where these animals are kept. I can only say to the Committee that the standards of hygiene and comfort were very high indeed.

What we are really up against here is the obvious need for more animals used in these experiments to be bred in this country rather than being imported from South America and elsewhere. It would help if the Minister could give some information, if not now, at a later stage, as to how many of these animals are bred in this country and how many are imported. This is an important aspect bearing on this amendment.

Lord Glenarthur

It is a little difficult to comment in any depth on the merits of this amendment. Quite honestly, in the time available I have not been able to study the standards laid down by the Secretary of State for the Environment for the management of animals in zoos for reasons of which the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, is aware. My guess—and that of my advisers—is that they are not 100 per cent. apt for wild animals in laboratories. I do not see any particular reason why they should be. However, what I shall do is to examine a copy of the standards to see whether they have anything to teach us about how to keep wild animals in laboratories. I hope that at least that will be an assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Melchett.

What I can tell him, which corresponds with my noble friend Lord Auckland, is that I have been enormously impressed by the high standards in which all animals are kept in laboratories. Certainly the laboratories which I have visited and the stories that I have heard from those who have visited others—of which my noble friend has given an example just now—bears that out. I find them to be thoroughly happy and healthy. I think that the noble Lord would be aware that all those who look after animals in these circumstances are animal lovers in the same way that we all are.

My noble friend Lord Auckland has asked me how many are wild animals. I cannot give him an answer immediately without scrutinising a table very carefully; but I shall certainly let him know.

With the undertaking to examine the statute to which the noble Lord refers I hope that he will withdraw the amendment.

Lord Melchett

Yes. I said in introducing the amendment—although I may not have made it clear—that the Zoo Licensing Act applies to all that it defines as "wild". I have not looked up the exact definition but the words are to the effect that it applies to all animals not commonly domesticated in the United Kingdom. That is regardless of their source of origin, so that that would apply to monkeys, lions, tigers or elephants for the purposes of the Zoo Licensing Act which are bred in England, just as it applies to those which are imported into the country.

Lord Glenarthur

May I make one further point which relates to the point that the noble Lord is making? Animals in zoos are there for a different purpose. They are there for display. They are there to demonstrate their lives, their activities, to people who come to watch them. That is not the case with animals which are kept for laboratory purposes. Laboratories have similar facilities but they are not designed in the same way and they are not for the same purpose. That does not mean to say that the animals concerned are not perfectly happy.

Lord Melchett

I do not wish to get into a long argument with the noble Lord but I would query very strongly the use of the word "happy" in these circumstances, on a number of bases. However, I shall not go into that. The purposes for which animals are kept in zoos are not only for the enjoyment of the public. Indeed, those who run zoos make a very strong case for saying that the primary purpose is educational; and a secondary very important purpose is research. Zoos therefore are designed by those who support them for those purposes primarily; and I think that it is possible to see some parallels at least with the justification for having animals in laboratories or breeding animals for laboratory use.

My own feeling would be that for whatever the purpose they are there for does not make much difference to the animal itself for no other reason than that the animal will not be conscious of that purpose. Therefore these conditions are deemed to be required in order to ensure that animals do not suffer deprivation or discomfort or other things. That is the basis on which the standards are laid down under the Zoo Licensing Act. They are not laid down to ensure that the animals are properly displayed, or that they give pleasure to the visitors. They are laid down for the purposes of reducing suffering and deprivation to the animals kept in zoos. I think that exactly the same standards should be applied to animals kept for the purposes of this Bill.

I am grateful to the noble Lord for saying that he will look at this. I shall be interested to know what conclusion he comes to. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Melchett moved Amendment No 29: Page 5, line 39, after ("responsible") insert ("at all times for and skilled in").

The noble Lord said: it might be convenient to take with this amendment Amendments Nos. 31 and 39.

Amendment No. 31: Page 5, line 43, after ("to") insert ("be available at all times to"). Amendment No. 39: Clause 7, page 7, line 1, at end insert ("available at all times"). Amendment No. 39 is in my name and amends Clause 7 in the same way as Amendment No. 31 amends Clause 6. The purpose of these amendments is simply to ensure that those responsible for the animals are not only responsible but are available at all times and have the required skills to look after the animals for which they are responsible. I beg to move.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

This is an important amendment. Speaking for the laymen—and both I and my noble friend are laymen—the way in which animals are treated and looked after is a very important aspect. There are a great many laymen. We have talked about the general public and we must remember that they are an enormously vital part of our discussions this evening. Therefore, the thought that animals which are undergoing experiments may not be under constant surveillance by people who are fully skilled and fully available to do so, is very worrying. This is an important amendment. It is common sense and everybody should relate to it. I hope that the Minister will look upon it very favourably.

The Earl of Selkirk

I have tabled an amendment which is substantially the same as that of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett. As the noble Baroness has said, this is an extremely important point. Many of these animals may be going through a procedure. It may be that the situation covered in Clause 15 will arise and that their lives will have to be terminated. As I understand it, it is fairly common for some of these laboratories not to carry out any observation between Friday and Monday. That is not a satisfactory situation. There is no reference to this particular subject in the guidelines. I think that we must insist on this provision. However, I am not quite certain to what extent it is covered by the amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, is about to move. It may be that the noble Lord will think that the matter is adequately covered. If so, I shall not press the matter any further. However, I should like to be certain that the principle enunciated by this amendment is fully operative and obligatory.

Lord Auckland

It is my understanding that any major pharmaceutical company operates a 24-hour service around the clock, including Christmas Day and at holiday time, and that there is normally either a duty veterinary officer or somebody who is an acknowledged expert on animal welfare available at all times. We are, of course, talking about registered pharmaceutical companies. I should be very surprised—and of course it will be for my noble friend the Minister to confirm this—if there were not some qualified person available day and night to deal with these matters. It is important to raise this point; but as one who has visited a number of pharmaceutical companies and who has served on hospital committees, and so on, I should be very surprised if what I have said were not the case.

Lord Glenarthur

I certainly understand and share the concern of those who have spoken in support of the amendment that animals used in experimental work are properly cared for at all times. It is because of our concern that we have included in the Bill the requirement that all designated scientific procedure establishments and all designated breeding or supplying establishments should have a specific named person responsible for the day-to-day care of animals at the establishment. That person will not of course be on duty 24-hours a day, but he will have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that proper arrangements exist for the care of animals at all times. His responsibility covers the whole period—that is, 24 hours of each and every day that he occupies the position—and substitution of "day and night" in the place of the words "day-to-day" really alters nothing in that respect.

I know that there is concern to ensure that in every case animals are properly supervised by trained staff throughout the whole of every day. However, I do not believe that the concern is soundly based. Animals need sleep; they need periods of undisturbed quiet. I am sure that your Lordships can appreciate that regular scrutiny at night—which to be effective would necessitate switching on lights—would be extremely disruptive. Anecdotes arise from time to time, and I honestly do not think that my dog, which I do not monitor all night every night, would very much appreciate it if I turned on a light and woke her up.

On the other hand, in the case of animals which are suffering pain or distress, or which could be outside normal hours because they have undergone a procedure, additional supervision may be necessary perhaps because they are recovering from an operation. That is provided for, and I hope that covers the point raised by my noble friend Lord Selkirk. That is the sort of care for animals which all of us normally have when we are looking after an animal that is recovering from some sort of procedure. My noble friend Lord Selkirk was concerned about the matter not being contained in the guidelines, but I hope that if he reads paragraph 72 on page 26 he may find that they are adequately covered. The new controls in this Bill will consolidate what I have described, but it would be wholly impracticable as well as unnecessary to insist on 24-hour cover in all circumstances.

The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, mentioned that he would be happy to speak to Amendments Nos. 31 and 39, which involve a rather different subject—Clauses 6 and 7 (I hope I have that right), which address a different matter but concern vets. A certificate will not be issued until we are satisfied that adequate arrangements exist for the provision of the services of a specialised veterinary surgeon. This will involve scrutiny of the arrangements for ensuring that appropriate cover will be available throughout each day. It is possible that a number of partners in a practice will be specified, or there may be other arrangements. The arrangements would be adjusted to fit the circumstances.

I feel that the amendments proposed are inflexible. I also feel that they are unnecessary because they take no account of the difficulty of defining the word "available". Does this mean present at all times, available at half an hour's notice, or what does it mean? I think the matter is better left to the certificate conditions. I hope that with those explanations the noble Lord will be reassured and will be able to withdraw his amendments.

Lord Melchett

I will study with care what the noble Lord said. I should have said in introducing the amendment (I think the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, made this point anyway) that my understanding is that any large and reputable pharmaceutical company doing research on animals would provide 24-hour cover and would have available on a 24-hour basis (when I say "available", I mean available on the end of a telephone) not only a person responsible for the animals in that company's premises but also a qualified veterinarian. The noble Lord seemed to be saying that those standards would not necessarily be practical or be able to be applied to other establishments, unless I misheard him.

Lord Glenarthur

Without repeating myself, if the noble Lord studies what I said he will find that his concerns are met and that he can be reassured.

Lord Melchett

As I said, I shall study the noble Lord's words. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 30 and 31 not moved.]

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 32:

[Printed earlier: col. 429.]

The noble Lord said: I formally move Amendment No. 32, which was linked with Amendment No. 26 and to which I spoke a few minutes ago. If the Committee approves Amendment No. 32 then immediately afterwards I shall move Amendment No. 33 and the corresponding amendment to Clause 7.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Following is the text of the amendment (No. 32): Page 5, line 43, at end insert— ("and the same person may, if the Secretary of State thinks fit, be specified under both paragraphs of this subsection.").

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 33: Page 6, line 1, leave out from beginning to end of line 17 and insert— ("(6) If it appears to any person specified in a certificate pursuant to subsection (5) above that the health or welfare of any such animal as is mentioned in that subsection gives rise to concern he shall—

  1. (a) notify the person holding a personal licence who is in charge of the animal; or
  2. (b) if there is no such person or it is not practicable to notify him, take steps to ensure that the animal is cared for and, if it is necessary for it to be killed, that it is killed by a method which is appropriate under Schedule 1 to this Act or approved by the Secretary of State.
(7) In any case to which subsection (6) above applies the person specified in the certificate pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection (5) above may also notify the person (if different) specified pursuant to paragraph (b) of that subsection; and the person specified pursuant to either paragraph of that subsection may also notify one of the inspectors appointed under this Act.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 33 and speak also to Amendment No. 36, which relates to Clause 7, and Amendments Nos. 40 and 41, which also relate to Clause 7 but which both deal with the same issue. Amendment No. 36: Clause 7, page 6, line 36, after ("below") insert ("a person or"); Amendment No. 40: Page 7, line 2, at end insert— ("and the same person may, if the Secretary of State thinks fit, be specified under both paragraphs of this subsection.") Amendment No. 41: Page 7, line 3, leave out from beginning to end of line 14 and insert— ("(6) If it appears to any person specified in a certificate pursuant to subsection (5) above that the health or welfare of any such animal as is mentioned in that subsection gives rise to concern he shall take steps to ensure that it is cared for and, if it is necessary for it to be killed, that it is killed by a method appropriate under Schedule 1 to this Act or approved by the Secretary of State. (7) In any case to which subsection (6) above applies the person specified in the certificate pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection (5) above may also notify the person (if different) specified pursuant to paragraph (b) of that subsection; and the person specified pursuant to either paragraph of that subsection may also notify one of the inspectors appointed under this Act.")

On Second Reading, my noble friend Lord Mishcon drew attention to what appeared to be unclear—and, so far as it was clear, was not right—in the two clauses dealing with what was to happen when the person responsible for the day-to-day care and/or the veterinary surgeon appointed to advise on health and welfare discovered an animal that was obviously in need of attention. What did they do? To whom did they go? In consultation with the Ministers, we have devised a clearer course of action in the amendments now before the Committee. Mr. David Mellor and the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, put their heads together and here it is.

The Committee will realise that the two new features in this Bill are of great importance regarding the care of animals both in establishments where procedures are being carried out and in breeding and animal houses relating to this work. One is the appointment of a person who is responsible for day-to-day care, a named person, with statutory responsibility falling upon him (because the certificate will not be granted to the establishment concerned unless there is such a person) and a veterinary surgeon also attached to that establishment. We have merely provided that in certain circumstances the two responsibilities may be combined in one fully qualified person where the Home Secretary is satisfied that the conditions of a particular establishment allow that to be done with convenience. However, normally there will be these two persons. Either or both of them may discover an animal that needs attention. The question is: what do they do then?

The amendments proposed shorten the chain of reference and of authority. The first responsibility for the care of the animals rests upon the personal licensee. That duty is imposed upon him under Clause 10 (2) (a) and (b) of the Bill. The condition of his licence will make the personal licensee responsible for the care of animals for which he is responsible under the licence.

Thus, when the discovery is made of an animal in need of attention, the first duty of the day-to-day care officer or of the vet will be to call in the personal licensee because it is his responsibility. Well, he may not be there. He may be on other work or, in certain circumstances, because the animal is not under procedures which are regulated, there may not be a personal licensee at all. Yet in the absence of the personal licensee (who, if he was available, must take responsibility) or if there is no personal licensee (then, obviously, they will not have one) the day-to-day care officer or the vet, or both of them, may decide on their own responsibility that the animal must be destroyed. This new version of Clauses 6 and 7 enables that to be done.

Where the animals are in conditions which raise general questions of their care and management, most likely the day-to-day care officer and the vet may wish to call in the inspector to look at conditions generally. However, up until now I have been describing the emergency that might arise when there is an animal suffering unendurable pain or distress about which something must be done. This revised version enables the day-to-day care officer or the vet, or both of them, to deal with it. That is a big responsibility because if they act in the absence of the personal licensee who is not available, then they may be destroying a good deal of the work that he is undertaking. It is not a light responsibility, but it goes straight to the heart of the emergency and enables the day-to-day care officer or the vet, or the two together, to decide that the animal should be put down and humanely destroyed. That is a much improved version of this procedure than was in the earlier clause in the Bill. So I beg to move Amendment No. 33, which achieves the purpose which I have described.

9.45 p.m.

Noble Lords must bear in mind that the intention is to have speedy decisions and quick action where animals are suffering unendurable pain or distress. That enables the people on the spot to take decisions if they cannot find a reference to the personal licensee. I therefore beg to move that provision in regard to Clause 6.

Similar considerations arise in the case of Clause 7, where, for breeding and supplying establishments, there is a condition that to be licensed a person must be appointed to be responsible for the day-to-day care of the animals bred or kept for breeding in the establishment. There are not two persons there because there is not a personal licensee, but there is the officer for day-to-day responsibility plus the vet. Here again the power is put in the hands of the day-to-day care officer and/or the vet to ensure that steps are taken to have the animal cared for or, if necessary, to have it painlessly destroyed. I have spoken to the amendments to both Clause 6 and Clause 7, and will deal with the formal moving of them as they occur. I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne)

Amendment No. 34 is an amendment to No. 33.

Lord Melchett moved Amendment No. 34 as an amendment to Amendment No. 33: Line 16, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 34 and to speak to Amendment No. 35 as well. Amendment No. 35: Line 19, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall")

I hope that these amendments might prove acceptable to my noble friend, and, if they do, then clearly amendments would also be needed (although I regret I have not tabled them) to Amendment No. 41. No doubt we could do that at a later stage. My noble friend has said that this amendment deals with the situation where people on the spot have to take action to put an end to unendurable pain or distress to an animal. We are talking about emergencies, I think it is fair to say, or certainly unusual circumstances, and, quite likely, if not almost always, circumstances where something has gone seriously wrong.

I welcome my noble friend's amendment, which I think clarifies matters considerably, but it seems to me that in those circumstances subsection (7) of my noble friend's amendment places too weak a duty on the person who has had to deal with this problem, who has had to take the action. It seems to me that if they are not the person responsible for the day-to-day care of the animal, that person must be notified of what has happened. That is the effect of my first amendment, to line 16. If the person is not the person in day-to-day care of the animal, they would have to notify the person who is in day-to-day care of the animal. I would have thought that that would be acceptable to all concerned.

The second amendment insists that the vet who is responsible for these animals also has to be notified about what has happened. It is not a discretionary duty on the person who has dealt with the unendurable pain or distress: they have to tell the vet responsible for the animals what has been done and what has happened. They are minor amendments. I think they are important, and I hope they will prove acceptable both to my noble friend and to the Government. I beg to move.

The Earl of Selkirk

May I point out that we had many arguments about the words "may" and "shall"; but this is quite a different one. This is not putting an obligation on the Government which the Government intensely dislike: it is putting a clear-cut obligation on someone on duty which, as we have explained already, is a very serious duty. He should have a clear obligation in the circumstances defined to make a report, as stated in the Bill.

Viscount Davidson

The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, has proposed an amendment which would alter the wording of the new subsection (7), substituted by the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton. The effect of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, is to require the named person or the veterinary surgeon to notify the inspector in any case in which the health or welfare of an animal gives rise to concern. Without this amendment the new subsection (7) enables the named person or veterinary surgeon to notify the inspector if he sees fit. But unlike the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, it does not oblige him to do so in every case; for example, when the animal's indisposition was trivial and easily remedied. In many cases, clearly consultation with the inspector will not be necessary.

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton's amendment provides a welcome classification of the responsibilities of the named person or the vet. I suggest that the addition suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, is unnecessary and wholly inappropriate in trivial cases and would be wasteful in operation. I urge the Committee to accept the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, as it stands.

Lord Prys-Davies

May I ask a question of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton? If the personal licensee or the day-to-day care officer of the establishment fails to act in the circumstances sketched out in the first paragraph of the amendment, will they have committed an offence under this Bill?

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

This just shows the problems of the statute law when you try to spell out what reasonable people should do, prompted by their own common sense, in a certain situation. It is impossible to provide for every eventuality; but let me say that the duty rests upon the personal licensee to take care of the animals that he is using, which are within his project licence and within the scope of his responsibilities. That is his duty. If the day-to-day care officer and the veterinary surgeon—either or both of them—are of the opinion that an animal in the care of a personal licensee is in need of urgent attention and that something should be done to relieve its agony or that it should be destroyed, they first get the personal licensee.

My noble friend asks what happens if he does not do anything. The answer is that it is his duty and he may be reported by those who have noticed the animal in distress. They can report to the inspector if they wish. I do not think it should necessarily be a duty which is imposed upon them. One does not know the variety of circumstances in which this situation may arise. The word "shall" is always dangerous in situations which are capable of considerable variety and difficulty and of emotional intensity. These men or women have responsibilities and duties and they must discharge them. We cannot stand over them all the time. But I submit that the personal licensee must discharge his duty and there are other people around in the establishment who take overriding responsibility for the conduct of affairs in the establishment, to whom reference can be made. But the inspector is there to be called in if anybody feels the necessity for that to be done.

However, I do not think we ought to prescribe "shall" in either case. I think we have to leave something to the judgment of the officer who is called upon to take the action. If he has the Act of Parliament brandished in front of his nose and it says "You shall", he then says, "I do not think it is appropriate that I should, but the Act says 'You shall'." That is the sort of absurd situation that can arise in conditions of this kind. So I suggest that the word "may", to a person of reasonable judgment and sense of responsibility, is enough. I hope that my noble friend Lord Melchett will not press Amendments Nos. 34 and 35 and that the amendment on the Marshalled List will be adopted. I think that it makes adequate provision for a chain of reference which is reasonably short, and for authority to act absolutely clearly in the hands of one or other of the two officers who have this responsibility. I think that it accomplishes what we set out to do.

I end by saying that this is a notable reform. An oversight of the care and welfare of the animals, which are in the hands of scientists, experimenters and those using the animals, is put into the hands of a designated named person in the establishment who, in most cases, will have a veterinary surgeon on whose advice he can also rely.

Lord Melchett

May I ask my noble friend a question? I may have misunderstood this, but I had assumed that the words "gives rise to concern" implied that something was going wrong. I had not assumed that this subsection was designed to apply in, for example, circumstances where it had become slightly too hot or slightly too cold in the laboratory or in the area where the animals were kept. This provides power for somebody to come in and kill the animal. My noble friend spoke about people on the spot putting an end to unendurable pain or distress. I had assumed that it was circumstances of that sort for which this subsection was designed, so as to allow somebody on the spot to step in immediately and deal with the matter.

I was therefore surprised to hear from the Government Front Bench the suggestion that this clause could well apply to a whole series of very minor incidents such as where it had become a bit too hot or a bit too dry. Clearly, it would be a little onerous for, the inspector to be told about what had happened. I am still not sure whether my first amendment, under which a person responsible for the day-to-day care would have to be told, is really unnecessary. I wonder whether my noble friend can comment on that. Have I misunderstood the circumstances in which this subsection is likely to be used?

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

As I understand the position, the words "health and welfare" are of wide application, not only in an emergency but in general. There may be some lack of care over a whole collection of animals in a particular establishment, or animals in a certain section of an establishment. So it is a responsibility that has to be exercised in the broadest sense.

But, clearly, in the sort of emergency that I have described, the day-to-day officer and a veterinary surgeon, or both of them, would act only if in their judgment something had gone wrong, that the animals were in a predicament that it was never intended they should be in and that it was intolerable that they should have to continue to bear it. It would clearly be where something had gone wrong. They might be mistaken in thinking that something had gone wrong and that is why they would call upon the personal licensee to come and look. He may say "It's all right. I am afraid that this is what has to happen to this animal in the course of the experiment." If he decides that it has not gone wrong, and that what is happening is what was contemplated, it is still open to them, according to my reading of this amendment, to refer to the inspector anything which they think is going wrong. This oversight is not selective. It is general, it is comprehensive and it is continuous.

Viscount Davidson

It may help the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, if I say that I understand that the words "gives rise to concern" will include not only extreme concern but mild concern as well. On the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, the fact that he does not do anything is not an offence; but, on the other hand, he will very likely lose his licence, or position, or job, or all three.

10 p.m.

Lord Melchett

This is an important change to the Bill and a marked improvement, so I do not apologise for pursuing my amendment. There is clearly some difference of emphasis at least between the Government and my noble friend about the kind of circumstances in which the subsection might apply. If the Government's version is correct—and I am not questioning it for a moment—it may be that it would be unduly onerous to make the amendment to line 19 and insist that one of the inspectors appointed under the Act is notified every time somebody has cause for mild concern, although I hope it will be a requirement of one of the licences—I am not sure which one—that the inspector is notified whenever there is cause for grave concern of the kind my noble friend spoke about a moment ago.

My first amendment does not apply to notifying the inspector; it says that the person responsible for the day-to-day care of the animals has to be notified whenever concern has arisen. The argument there is rather different. It will usually be the person in day-to-day care of the animals who is taking the action, but it is possible that it will be somebody else. That is what the words "if different" in the brackets apply to, if I have read the amendment correctly. Even if there is sufficient mild concern for somebody else, not being the person responsible for the day-to-day care, to intervene in the care of the animals, it should be a requirement that the person responsible for day-to-day care shall be informed about what has happened.

I wonder whether either my noble friend or the Government feel it would be sensible to draw a distinction as regards the requirement to notify the person in day-to-day care of the animal—I can see a different argument applying to the requirement to notify the inspector.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I have already dealt with the eternal difficulties about "may" and "shall". Mostly, "may" means "shall". Mostly "shall" means that there are exceptions to be found to make sense of it. That I fear is the position here. If "shall" is inserted, it may lead to needless bureaucracy and to avoidable friction. We have to realise that personal relationships will be involved in laboratories where animals are being used and feelings may rise a little between one person and another as to the treatment being given to particular animals. I feel that the wording of my amendment is right. It is the clear duty of a responsible officer—named, nominated and given the statutory position he would occupy as day-to-day care officer, and the veterinary surgeon similarly—to decide quite fearlessly when he should report a matter to the inspector, and he does not need the statutory direction to do so. The fact that he may do it, and may be expected to do it in certain circumstances, would be enough.

Lord Melchett

I think I accept that point but, with respect, unless I am misreading this my noble friend is wrong in saying that the person responsible for day-to-day care will always know what happens. That is what line 16 of the amendment refers to. It says that he, may also notify the person … specified pursuant to paragraph (b) of that subsection". That person whom he "may also notify" is the person responsible for day-to-day care. So it is quite possible for one of these instances to arise—mild concern or considerable concern—and for the person responsible for day-to-day care of the animals not to be told about it.

I appreciate that "may" and "shall" always give rise to endless difficulties but as the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, pointed out, we are not applying this duty to the Government but to an individual working in a laboratory who has had to take over control of animals from the person in day-to-day care because concern had arisen. That gives rise to questions quite different from the requirement to notify a Home Office inspector. Unless I am misreading this provision—and it is not all that easy to follow—I believe that my point is still valid and that, with great respect, my noble friend has not answered it.

Viscount Davidson

Perhaps I can help the noble Lord again. It is right that either of the two should be under a duty to see that a sick animal is cared for if the personal licensee in charge of the animal cannot be found and, if necessary, to see that the animal is humanely killed. If the personal licensee can be found then of course the duty rests on him. It is most important not to dilute that duty; it is his responsibility.

If the named person or the veterinary surgeon believes that the personal licensee is not fulfilling his duty, then he ought to consult the Home Office inspector, and the amendments empower him to do so. If there is no personal licensee, as will always be the case at a breeding or supplying establishment, which is covered by Clause 7, and will often be the case at a scientific procedure establishment, covered by Clause 6, since in such an establishment there will be many stock animals not yet used for scientific procedures, then the named person and the veterinary surgeon will undoubtedly see it as their duty to ensure that action is taken. It is only right that the Bill should make that plain.

I believe that the Committee again has cause to be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, and I urge your Lordships to agree to his amendments.

Lord Melchett

I shall read what the noble Viscount has just said in Hansard. To be perfectly frank, I did not follow his response as he gave it. I am sure it was helpful, and beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 34.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 35 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

The Question now is, that the main amendment, Amendment No. 33, be agreed to?

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7 [Breeding and supplying establishments]:

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 36:

[Printed earlier: col. 437.]

The noble Lord said: This is a paving amendment to Amendments Nos. 40 and 41. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Following is the text of the amendment (No. 36): Clause 7, page 6, line 36, after ("below") insert ("a person or")

[Amendment No. 37 not moved.]

Lord Melchett moved Amendment No. 38: Page 6, line 37, at end insert— ("() In determining whether to grant a certificate to a breeding or supplying establishment the Secretary of State shall in particular have regard to the need for securing—

  1. (a) that animals will at all times be kept in accommodation suitable as respects construction, size of quarters, number of occupants, exercising facilities, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness;
  2. (b) that animals will be adequately supplied with suitable food, drink and bedding material, adequately exercised, and (so far as necessary) visited at suitable intervals;
  3. (c) that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread among animals of infectious or contagious diseases, including the provision of adequate isolation facilities;
  4. (d) that appropriate steps will be taken for the protection of the animals in case of fire or other emergency;
  5. (e) that a register be kept containing a description of any animals received into the establishment, date of arrival and departure, and the name and address of the owner, such register to be available for inspection at all times by an inspector appointed under this Act;
and shall specify such conditions in the certificate licence, if granted, as appear to the Secretary of State necessary or expedient in the particular case for securing all the objects specified in paragraphs (a) to (e) of this subsection.")

The noble Lord said: This amendment is in some ways a parallel to the amendments that mention the Zoos Licensing Act, which were Amendments Nos. 28 and 37 to which I spoke earlier. In this case I have drawn on the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963. I wanted to take it separately because it seems to me that the parallels between the requirements of the 1963 Act and of the breeding and supply establishments that will be designated under this Bill are certainly a great deal closer, if not exactly the same, as compared with those licensed under the Zoos Licensing Act.

The Animal Boarding Establishments Act lays down certain requirements to which the Secretary of State shall have regard before issuing a certificate to a hoarding establishment. It seemed to me that either in the Bill or in the guidelines—and I would prefer in the Bill—the Secretary of State should be required to have regard to a number of matters before issuing a licence. Just so that we do not get into an old argument, I should emphasis that I am looking to the Secretary of State to have regard to certain matters; there would be no absolute requirement for him to do so. It is simply that the Secretary of State would have his mind directed to certain matters by Parliament and upon which Parliament gives him the power to impose conditions when he issues a licence.

The matters to which the Secretary of State would have to pay regard in paragraphs (a) to (e) are quite straightforward and I do not intend to describe them. They are exactly the same as the requirements in the Animal Boarding Establishments Act. However, there is one other point I should like to make. It seems to me that there will be some difficulty in the overlap between establishments that are breeding and supplying animals for laboratory use and other boarding or breeding establishments that may be licensed under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963.

For example, I understand that there are kennels which provide animals both for the Royal College of Surgeons' experimental establishment at Buxton Brown Farm and also for the pet trade or for other purposes. Presumably it is not always known until the animal is actually sold for which purpose it will be used. In these circumstances, I wonder whether the requirements of the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 apply to the animals or whether the requirements of this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will apply. It seems to me that to avoid confusion and overlap it would be simpler for the same sort of conditions to be considered when issuing licences both under this Bill and the existing Act. For that reason I hope the amendment will be seen as helpful and not disruptive. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur

At a quick glance the provisions contained in the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 look broadly on the right lines for the sort of animals that are held in boarding establishments. But they do not, of course, cater for laboratory animals and they were not designed to, either. For example, I refer to mammalian foetuses which certainly can need to be looked after in the way that we are referring to with laboratory animals.

A much more detailed code of practice for the care and treatment of laboratory animals has been drawn up by the Royal Society in collaboration with the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Naturally my right honourable friend will consult widely on this code, when it is available, and I hope that that will be early next year. He will, of course, consult the Animal Procedures Committee and is most unlikely to adopt the code without the committee's agreement to every single detail of it. All this is provided for in Clause 21(2) and the noble Lord will see that it gives the reassurance he needs. I hope that his concerns are met and that he will be able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Melchett

I am grateful for that information. The noble Lord did not deal with the problem of an overlap between establishments licensed under this Bill and those licensed under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963. I know that I did not give him notice of my question but I shall be happy if he will write to me later on this matter.

Lord Glenarthur

All I can tell the noble Lord is that the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 is concerned with the boarding of other people's animals. I think that is the answer the noble Lord seeks.

Lord Melchett

I am not sure that it is but perhaps I can leave the noble Lord to look at this matter and if there is a problem he can write to me. If there is not a problem the noble Lord need not bother because I do not seek to make extra work. However, my understanding is that there are boarding establishments licensed under the 1963 Act which breed animals which can then be sold both to the pet trade and for scientific procedures. It seems to me that it would be difficult to know under which conditions the breeding animals are meant to be kept if they are potentially covered by two Acts of Parliament and two separate and possibly different codes of practice or requirements about how the animals should be kept. That is the point I am seeking to raise.

Lord Glenarthur

I will willingly write to the noble Lord.

Lord Melchett

I am grateful to the Minister. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 39 not moved.]

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 40:

[Printed earlier: col. 437.]

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Following is the text of the amendment (No. 40): Page 7, line 2, at end insert— ("and the same person may, if the Secretary of State thinks fit, be specified under both paragraphs of this subsection.")

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 41:

[Printed earlier: col. 437.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Following is the text of the amendment (No. 41):

Page 7, line 3, leave out from beginning to end of line 14 and insert— ("(6) If it appears to any person specified in a certificate pursuant to subsection (5) above that the health or welfare of any such animal as is mentioned in that subsection gives rise to concern he shall take steps to ensure that it is cared for and, if it is necessary for it to be killed, that it is killed by a method appropriate under Schedule 1 to this Act or approved by the Secretary of State. (7) In any case to which subsection (6) above applies the person specified in the certificate pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection (5) above may also notify the person (if different) specified pursuant to paragraph (b) of that subsection; and the person specified pursuant to either paragraph of that subsection may also notify one of the inspectors appointed under this Act.")

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Consultation]:

10.15 p.m.

Lord Melchett moved Amendment No. 42: Page 7, line 26, after ("Act") insert ("who shall not be the inspector responsible for visiting the designated establishment or place where regulated procedures are carried out where the applicant for the licence worked in the past or will in future if the licence is granted.")

The noble Lord said: I apologise if this amendment is not drafted correctly, but it is designed to ensure that, where an inspector is asked to comment on an application for a licence, it should be a different inspector from the one who normally works with the people who are applying for the licence or the establishment where the work will be carried out under that licence.

My reason for suggesting this amendment is twofold. First, while everybody has a very high regard for the Home Office inspectors, I am sure that the inspectors themselves will not mind me saying that some of them will be more experienced than others and even that some of them will be rather better at their jobs than others. That applies in all walks of life. It seems to me that, while this Bill places a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of the Home Office Inspectorate, therein lies one danger, and that is that there might develop rather too friendly and even cosy a relationship between a particular inspector and an establishment which he or she is inspecting regularly. To guard against that possibility, it seemed to me that it would be valuable for a second inspector to be involved in the process of looking at the licence application.

The second reason for suggesting this procedure is that I understand that in future particular inspectors will develop expertise in particular areas of research. It would therefore seem to me to be sensible that an inspector with particular expertise in one area of research should look at a licence application which fell within that area of expertise, and that would also normally involve a different inspector looking at the application. I beg to move.

Lord Prys-Davies

I am in sympathy with my noble friend's amendment. It is important that the inspector who advises on the grant of the licence or certificate should be seen to be independent of the applicant and of the establishment. I think my noble friend made the point that if the inspector knows the applicant or the establishment too well there is just the possibility that he may accept too readily their assumptions and their standards, and be less reluctant to challenge them. I should have thought that it would be unreasonable to put a Home Office inspector in a position where there could be that kind of role conflict.

The Earl of Halsbury

In heaven's name, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut! Of course the inspector and the experimenter are on cosy terms. They see one another regularly. The experimenter discusses his future experiments with the inspector. If he wants to vary some procedure that has been agreed, he asks the inspector to come round and agree to it with him. The idea that there should be two inspectors to one experimenter is really absolute theroretical nonsense. I oppose this amendment.

Lord Airedale

Nevertheless, I hope that inspectors will be moved around a good deal. Tax inspectors are moved around a good deal, and this is thought to be healthy. Inspectors should not stay for long periods in one neighbourhood and become tremendously friendly with particular people in that area. It is healthy that they should move around. I hope that these inspectors will be moved around quite a lot.

Lord Glenarthur

I honestly cannot describe to the noble Lord precisely how inspectors will be moved around, but I do not think that he need be under any misapprehension: they take the work they do extremely seriously. I have heard first-hand examples of people who have been to a laboratory when an inspector has been visiting and he has stopped something there and then. Those are probably companies or laboratories with which the inspector has the sort of relationship that the noble Lord feels might be too cosy. I assure him that they will pursue their work rigorously. In all seriousness, I do not believe that there is the danger that he supposes.

Lord McGregor of Durris

Some noble Lords appear to think that inspectorates of this nature are there for the purpose of prosecuting. They are not; they are there for the purpose of persuading. They have worked in that way since they were first introduced in the 1830s. Far from moving inspectors around as though they are likely to be corrupted by contact with the people with whom they are working, the basis of their work is friendship and respect. I think that there is a profound misunderstanding of how some of our administrative procedures operate.

Lord Melchett

In answer to the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, I appreciated that there was a cosy relationship, as he, I think, described it, between an inspector and people working in the establishment which he visits. The inspector will go there regularly and see a number of people. As the noble Earl said, he will be advising people on their project applications, and so on. It seems to me therefore that the answer to the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, is that the Secretary of State will have had the benefit of a particular inspector's advice in the sense that the inspector will have helped to mould the project application in the first place.

I am afraid that everything that has been said reinforces my view that this is a perfectly sensible amendment. The noble Earl seems to have forgotten that the Secretary of State has to consult one of his inspectors under Clause 9(1) when an application for a licence is received. An inspector has to be consulted; I am not suggesting that two inspectors should be consulted. I am simply saying that the one inspector who has been consulted should not be the one who helped to "mould the application", in the noble Earl's words, in the first place. It seems to me that at that stage, the inspector having worked with the establishment, it would be sensible for another inspector to look at the application for the Secretary of State. Somebody will have to do it. I am not suggesting any extra work for the inspectorate, but I am suggesting that it would be useful to have a fresh mind considering the application.

Although the noble Lord sought to dismiss the amendment as a little bit foolish, as I understand it, steps are being taken by the inspectorate to develop expertise in particular areas of research. It recognises that it is impossible for one inspector to know everything and it is valuable to develop expertise and also for inspectors to get together to discuss the approach that they adopt, and so on. That is all very sensible and welcome. I am not criticising that; I welcome it. But that does not seem to me to suggest that it would be nonsense to have another inspector not involved in the establishment to look at the application. It would not involve extra work; it would simply involve a second inspector looking at the project, which, as the noble Earl said, will have been moulded with advice from and discussion with the inspector working in the establishment.

My question is: is it sensible for the inspector who moulded the project application then to give advice on it to the Secretary of State, given, in the noble Earl's words, his cosy relationship with the people with whom he is working? I do not think that it would be. That is why the amendment is put down.

The Earl of Halsbury

Does the noble Lord accept that the experimenter is totally dependent on the inspector? The inspector is not in any way dependent on the experimenter. The Secretary of State can ask for as many opinions as he wants. The inspector can discuss the matter with as many of his colleagues as he wants. But do we need to write this into a statute?

Here I follow the excellent philosophy of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton. I congratulate him on his remarks. We all admire many facets of his character—his energy, his eloquence, and so on. However, the most remarkable feature of his character, and one which I admire especially, is his growth potential. Since he and I went into partnership on this in 1979, he has grown in experience, in wisdom and in knowledge of the subject. He should receive the congratulations of your Lordships' House.

Lord Glenarthur

I do not believe that I can add to what has been said, rising, as I do, again. I urge the noble Lord to think very hard about what he suggests. He would essentially succeed, if this amendment were accepted, in denying my right honourable friend the very best advice that he needs. I cannot see the logic of that. I do not believe that the noble Lord need be as concerned as he is about the cosy relationship that he describes and one that I assure him may be based on trust and mutual respect for the work that is carried out, as the noble Lord, Lord McGregor of Durris, described just now. I cannot see that this leads, or has led, in any sense to the sort of concern that he expressed.

Lord Melchett

I shall consider that point. I accept that there is some force in the argument. I believe that there is also some force in the argument that I am putting. It may be that, given there are arguments on either side it would be sensible to leave the Secretary of State free, as he now is, to consult any one of his inspectors and not necessarily the one—the Bill does not tell him to do so—who works with the establishment.

I do not take the view of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, about which inspector will be called upon. This is not stated in the Bill or in the guidelines. It could be any one of the inspectors, as I understand it. The Government have not said whether or not it will be the person who works in the establishment. I sought to make it all one way. It may be that the balance of advantage lies in leaving some discretion so long as the discretion is occasionally exercised. This point has been brought up several times this evening. I hope that the admiration for my noble friend Lord Houghton, which all of us share, will not prevent our having a proper Committee stage discussion about a very important piece of legislation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Melchett moved Amendment No. 43: Page 7, line 28, at end insert ("but shall consult the Animal Procedures Committee about any licence application which:

  1. (a) involves the infliction of pain of substantial severity, or
  2. (b) is for the purpose of training in manual skills.")

The noble Lord said: This amendment involves a different matter. It would require consultation with the Animal Procedures Committee about a licence application that involves the infliction of pain of substantial severity or is for the purpose of training in manual skills. I know that there has been considerable resistance during the course of today about writing into the Bill particular matters. But this does not require the Secretary of State to refuse a licence. It does not require the Secretary of State to come to any particular conclusion. But it would bring in the Animal Procedures Committee to look at licence applications that cause particular concern to the public. I hope that it is drafted in a way that respects the spirit of the Bill and the way that the Bill has been produced.

There is, as noble Lords will know, serious concern about, I accept, a minority, possibly a very small minority, of procedures that involve the infliction of pain of substantial severity. The fact that those things happen very rarely seems to me to argue for the amendment. It would not be placing an unduly onerous burden on the secretariat of the Animal Procedures Committee or the members of the committee itself if such cases had to be referred to them. I hope that I have said enough to show that this is a serious amendment that raises some important issues. I beg to move.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Glenarthur

I certainly understand the concerns that underlie the noble Lord's amendment. But the procedure that he suggests is, I believe, impracticable and misconceived. It is not the function of the Animal Procedures Committee to review all licence applications in whole classes as a matter of course. The routine consideration of licence applications is properly the responsibility of the inspectorate.

It concerns and, frankly, surprises me that the noble Lord should apparently lack confidence in the inspectors' ability to do this work, which I do not believe they deserve. I certainly do not share his worry. Of course, there will be occasions when the Animal Procedures Committee is asked to look at a proposal for work which raises particular issues of concern. However, the effect of the amendment would be to occupy a good part of the committee's time reviewing quite unnecessarily all licence applications in two narrowly defined categories and to go on doing so until someone saw fit to amend the legislation.

The committee would quickly become moribund. The work of the Animal Procedures Committee at any given time must be for the Secretary of State and for the committee itself to determine. I do not deny the importance of the issues which the noble Lord has raised. Certainly the Animal Procedures Committee will be able to provide valuable advice on the assessment of work which involves severe procedures. It has already been suggested by the present advisory committee, and we agree, that it would be useful in the initial stages for the committee to monitor the consideration for applications for project licences for training in microsurgery. But to shackle the committee in the way which the noble Lord's amendment suggests would be disastrous.

Inspectors are all qualified doctors; or they are all vets. They are both. They all have a good deal of professional experience before appointment. I can assure the noble Lord that they are all very independently-minded people. I believe that the noble Lord's concerns are misplaced and I hope he will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Melchett

What the noble Lord has said about applications involving training in microsurgery is welcome and deals to some extent with the second part of my amendment, but not wholly. I am afraid I am not entirely happy with what he has said about the first part. He has suggested that to look at these applications would completely bog down the Animal Procedures Committee. This is a committee which will be able to set up technical sub-committees; so I assume that the noble Lord is saying that there are so many applications in the two categories which I have mentioned—narrowly drawn, as he said, and I think I am quoting his own words—that the Animal Procedures Committee, which has the ability to set up sub-committees, will be completely bogged down in considering them. I find that horrifying, to be frank with the noble Lord.

Is he really saying that there are so many applications, for example, that will involve the infliction of pain of substantial severity that a sub-committee of the Animal Procedures Committee set up to consider those applications would be bogged down with those and with nothing else? I had understood there were very few applications for project licences which would involve this degree of pain to the animals involved, and that it would be a matter simply of looking at half a dozen every three months, or a very small number, and that it would not be an onerous burden on a sub-committee of the Animal Procedures Committee.

May I ask the noble Lord one question. Can he quantify in either of the two categories I have mentioned the number of applications which might be involved, because if it really is a very large number I accept from him that it would bog the committees down. But I think that it raises other problems in its place. However, I certainly withdraw the amendment if hundreds of applications are going to be involved in these two categories.

Perhaps I can make one other point to the noble Lord. While I welcome the changes it makes, to some extent the Bill involves a weakening of current procedures because at present an outside assessment is always necessary for an application. I know that that has become widely regarded, and indeed has been said by some of those involved, to be more or less a rubber stamping of the applications, but, nevertheless, that outside authority has had to be sought.

As I say, I do not complain about the changes that the Bill makes. I think that they will involve an improvement overall. But it seems to me that in procedures which involve the infliction of substantially severe pain there is an argument for saying that some independent outside assessment would be valuable.

I do not think that this should be seen as a criticism of the Home Office inspectorate. I do not see why that is so, because the Bill says that the Secretary of State can consult an outside assessor. Nobody has suggested that that is a slap in the face for the Home Office inspectorate or an insult to them. It is a sensible provision which the Government have put into the Bill. I do not think that my suggestion should be seen as any more insulting to the inspectorate than the provisions that the Government have already put in this clause in the Bill.

Lord Glenarthur

The noble Lord has asked me to give him some figures. I cannot give him precise figures. However, so far as the first category is concerned, the number will certainly run into hundreds, and there will be a few for the second category. I canot give precise figures. However, there will be less for the second category than there will for the first category. Most of them will be fairly simple or straightforward.

Nevertheless, the effect of the noble Lord's amendment will be to tie the hands of the committee in a way which, quite honestly, is unrealistic. It will do no good to anybody. It will not do any good to the animals. I do not believe that whatever the noble Lord now says about my implying that he has in any way written down the inspectorate really helps the issue. The fact is that it is a matter ideally suited for the inspectorate, and it would tie the hands of the committee in the way that I described earlier. I have given the noble Lord what figures I am able to give at this stage; if it is possible to give him any more I shall do so, but it may not be possible. I hope I have reassured the noble Lord a little.

Lord Melchett

No, I am afraid I am not reassured, but at this time of the evening I do not intend to pursue the matter any further. However, in view of what the noble Lord said it is something to which I should like to come back at the next stage of the Bill. For the time being I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Viscount Long

In view of the lateness of the hour, I think it would be a good idea to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

House adjourned at twenty-three minutes before eleven o'clock.