§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Second Reading debate resumed.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, I count it a special honour to be asked to follow the Minister the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill. Your Lordships will have noticed 1003 that not only has my noble friend Lord Mishcon paid me a generous compliment, but I am permitted to take his place for a few moments without moving my own, for which I am very grateful. It would not do for my noble friend Lord Mishcon and I to get too close together.
I am very moved by the comments—unduly generous, I think—that the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, made about my part in getting to this stage with this Bill. But I think we ought to pause for a moment and take note of the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, is the first Minister of the Crown to rise at the Box and introduce a Government Bill on animal experiments for over 100 years. That is a distinction which I hope he will bear with equanimity. The last time that this was discussed was when the Cruelty to Animals Bill was introduced by the Earl of Carnarvon, presumably in this Chamber, on 22nd May 1876. That was very late in the day to get any Bill through the House before it rose for the summer recess and, by the time the Bill came to its later stages, the House was in a hurry.
Apart from that, the Bill was more of an anti-vivisection Bill to begin with than it finished up by being when the medicine men had repulsed attempts to erode the sovereign state of science, notwithstanding the fact that the Earl who moved the Second Reading of the Bill in 1876 had the formidable support of Queen Victoria and the RSPCA.
I have views about the working of the 1876 Act and the probable reasons why no amending legislation was ever introduced. It would take rather too long to explain them, but there are some morals in that which we should bear in mind in connection with this Bill. One is that if you have a Bill that is so loosely worded and contains so many words bearing so many interpretations and without having the power to go to the court to get a determination of disputes, then you are in for a Bill that can be pushed about like a statutory jelly. That is exactly what happened to the 1876 Act. No case went to the court to interpret it, because nobody could go to the court without the sanction of the Home Secretary; nobody could prosecute those who held a licence for any misdeeds in the course of their work because the punishment for that was reserved wholly to the Home Secretary who, before a prosecution could be undertaken, had to give his consent.
Another point is that an Act which has been exploited for so long by so many interests who have cover under it, but for whom it was never intended, is bound to work well because they say it has adapted to changing needs. But think, my Lords, of all the mercenaries who got into the cover of the 1876 Act, with repetitive procedures under the guise of being experiments, which most certainly they were not. This is the sort of problem which has to be cleaned up in future legislation.
The other approach to legislation is to put it all in the statute law, or at least make the effort; define your terms; have voluminous schedules. Have it all there in the statute law. But what a tedious operation. What a problem to put to Parliament in both Houses to construct a Bill of that kind related to medical and surgical procedures which, by their very nature, are 1004 most difficult to define and prescribe. How many Acts of Parliament define how surgical and medical procedures shall be undertaken on human beings? I know of only one. What the statute law does in that connection is to prescribe the qualifications of those who are to be entitled by law to undertake them, and to make it an offence if anybody else attempts them.
The third way is the way that we have adopted. I say "we" because some of us have had special privileges in consulting with the Home Secretary and his Ministers on the structure of this Bill. I strongly favour the method we are adopting now, which is to try to define first principles, to erect the framework of the statute law and then say where responsibility for administration shall lie, what powers he shall have, what consultations he must make, what advisers shall be provided for him and what opportunities he shall have for giving non-statutory guidance to those engaged in this work. This is what we have done and I shall come back to that in a few moments.
But before you can do anything about preparing a Bill, you have to get people together. You have to try to combine differences of opinion, many of which it is very difficult to bridge. Animals are an emotive subject. They are most difficult to deal with, people quarrel about them so much and they lack the capacity for peaceful persuasion and for bringing opposites together.
The most valuable experience I have had in trying to find the secret of bringing opposites together was in seven years a chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party. That was splendid groundwork for trying to bring together dedicated and difficult people in the animal welfare movement. It was that that I had to attempt, with the aid of one of the most capable and persevering workers for this cause I have ever come across. I refer to Mr. Clive Hollands of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Vivisection in Edinburgh. There is a man with perseverance and a capacity for merging black and white and bringing together a combination of dissimilar people of different outlooks.
This Bill stems from the pledge given by the Conservative Party in 1979. That was when animals went into politics. All good causes have to go into politics if they are to succeed, because all roads lead to Westminster. There is no escape. If one wishes to change the law, there is no escape from coming here. To come here, one has to enter the realm of different political policies and outlooks and try to make the best of them to further the cause one supports. I did my best to put animals into politics. When we did get them into politics, we said that they should be included in the manifesto.
I am not sure whether I shall live to regret that suggestion as time goes on. Putting undertakings into manifestos is a very dangerous thing to do. However, it was done, and years later we had to rely on a pledge being a pledge and on the Conservative Party and a Conservative Government, who had given that pledge, to fulfil it. Indeed, it is being fulfilled today.
Television and the rest of the media have done an enormous amount to popularise the relationship between mankind and the animal kingdom. An outstanding man in that field is David Attenborough. 1005 Animal programmes on television—and there are many of them—are very popular. Hardly a day goes by without something about animals being shown or heard. That is a splendid state of affairs.
After a great deal of trouble and very slow progress we found ourselves moving towards the promised land. Reference has been made to the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury. There is no doubt that he was a pathmaker and pacemaker in introducing the Bill that he did, so highly skilled and sophisticated as it was. It went to a Select Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Ashby. For six months we provided evidence from sources which had never before in our lifetime come together to give such evidence. We were able to remodel the Bill. We thought that we had something which would stick, but the time for reform had not then come. It did not matter how good the noble Earl's Bill was, because time could not be found for it in another place.
However, I am sure the noble Earl's efforts made a notable contribution to progress. I recall the late Lord Piatt, as a former president of the Royal College of Physicians and as a former member of the Home Office advisory committee on the 1876 Act, bringing his weight to bear in trying to achieve unity among opposing forces, which was an essential condition of progress. The late Lord Piatt would have been a proud man had he lived to see this Bill being introduced in your Lordships' House this afternoon.
The most notable recent contribution to bringing this Bill before the House came from the triple alliance of the British Veterinary Association, the Committee for the Reform of Animal Experiments, of which I have the honour to be chairman, and FRAME, the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments. That combination of professional standing and of political understanding assisted the ministers at the Home Office to make plans and preparations for a consensus Bill. I must say that remarkable progress was made in the Home Office where Mr. Leon Brittan gave his Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Mr. David Mellor his head to collaborate with all who would come together to produce a Bill that would command a high degree of support and get a fair wind in both Houses of Parliament. That was the aim, and I believe that it has been achieved.
The Bill is an attempt to vest in the Home Secretary powers he has never before had and responsibilities which have not hitherto been his, to equip him with a high-standing statutory advisory body to advise him on difficult matters, and to provide him with a large and highly qualified inspectorate—because more responsibilities will rest on the inspectors than hitherto. It is not generally known that under the 1876 Act the Home Office inspectors had no statutory authority to enter a laboratory to look around and see what was happening there. The Home Secretary had no statutory authority to question the value of work being undertaken in research laboratories. He probably had to encroach on a authority that he did not really possess in order to discourage people from embarking on work that was particularly distasteful, but his statutory powers were very few.
The Bill remedies the Home Secretary's weak position under the 1876 Act. Not all Home Secretaries 1006 who looked at this problem would have welcomed the responsibilities which this Bill would have placed upon them, because they felt that they would be accountable to Parliament (as they will be), and that they would be shot at by hostile forces (as they will be). They were not anxious to add to the many problems which Home Secretaries have. It is a notorious fact that the Home Secretary is probably the only Minister in the Government who, when he wakes up in the morning, does not know what will await him when he arrives at his office. That is always a worry to those who occupy that position.
As the noble Lord has pointed out, the main feature of the Bill is the project licence. The Home Office had to make it clear that the licence is fundamental to the Bill and it has to be accepted. It is that licence which will give the Home Secretary the power to take difficult decisions on sensitive matters. When it comes to weighing up the degree of pain and suffering which the animals have to go through, and putting that against the value of the work which it is proposed to undertake, no one will envy the person who has to tip the scales one way or the other. That is a problem which cannot really be defined without a good deal of statutory jargon in the law.
As the noble Lord has said, the test of this Bill will be in administration. It will take some years before the full effect of the new law can be seen. I am quite sure that those of us who had a great deal to do with the preparation of the Bill, as it now is, will find our confidence justified as time goes on. It is not a Bill which is full of prohibitions and taboos, but it is a Bill which allows the Home Secretary to have his own prohibitions and taboos and to be accountable to Parliament for the use of them; and to be accountable for any decisions he may take which are contrary to the recommendations of the Animal Procedures Committee. I am grateful to the Home Secretary of the day for accepting this network of responsibility and power in such a difficult and complex field. All of us should help the Home Secretary to discharge these responsibilities.
My final word is this. I plead with the animal welfare organisations who are displaying a good deal of militant activity at present to regard this Bill as an opportunity which opens the way for them to indulge in constructive work on this matter for years to come. No animal welfare organisation need fear that it will be put out of business because all will be well. This Bill can be watched and monitored from different angles as to what decisions and what policies the Home Secretary follows. Intelligent critical observation in the field of animal use in laboratories will, I think, be a good thing as long as it is not full of venom, hostility and intransigence to the extent that we are getting from some quarters at present. These deep, moral divides have had to be overcome, bridges have had to be built, and I sincerely hope the co-operation will now be forthcoming from both sides to make this Bill work. I commend it very strongly to the House. I am personally fully committed to it and will support the Minister right to the end of the Bill.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Lord Airedale
My Lords, it is as much an honour for me to be speaking after the noble Lord, Lord 1007 Houghton, as he said it was for him to be speaking after the Minister. I can join with the noble Lord in giving approval to this Bill. Indeed, it would be astonishing if in the field of scientific research, of all subjects, we could not do better than in 1876. The world of scientific research today must be a totally different world from the world in 1876. I am sure that this Bill must be an improvement. I am not saying that it cannot be improved, and I look forward to a very interesting Committee stage where I am sure we can improve it. I already have one or two amendments in mind, but I shall not worry your Lordships with them today because they are rather detailed matters.
I should like to say a few words about more general matters. I thought it useful to look back to the debate we had in the summer on the most recent White Paper to see how we stand now with this Bill in relation to the matters which were of concern to noble Lords during that debate. I have been very much helped by the very copious guidance notes which the Home Office has produced, explaining the manner in which it set about interpreting the different clauses of the Bill.
I have two quarrels with the guidance notes. The first is with paragraph 50. I quarrel with the short sentence which reads:Fundamental research where no immediate benefit other than the increase of knowledge is sought is a valid and permitted purpose".I take it that here we are talking about random research in the hope of a spin-off. I know that great scientific discoveries have emanated from spin-offs. In our debate in the summer I ventured to cite as an example of this the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming, because Sir Alexander was not looking for penicillin when he made the discovery. However, neither was Sir Alexander conducting random research. He was researching on a fixed narrow objective and penicillin appeared from nowhere and interfered with his researches. It enabled him to switch his research from one aspect to the other. Therefore, if we now say that there shall be no random research on living animals, and if that had been the case in Sir Alexander Fleming's time, that would not have inhibited Sir Alexander in making his great discovery. He would still have made it.
Let us suppose a researcher goes to the Home Secretary and says, "I wish to conduct experiments on animals for pure research without any fixed objective in the hope that a spin-off will emerge". I hope that the Home Secretary will say, "You might be lucky in the same way as you might be lucky and win the football pools. On the other hand, you might be unlucky and be struck by lightning. These are very remote contingencies and my task throughout this Bill is shown to be that I have to balance the welfare of animals against the prospect of useful scientific discovery. I am not going to let you experiment on animals unless you can find and give me some specific objective which you are in search of in conducting your experiments. You can research in many other ways, randomly, without conducting experiments on animals". That is my quarrel with that paragraph.
I quarrel also with paragraph 64. This envisages a situation where the researcher expects that greater severity upon the animal is going to be required than 1008 is allowed for in his certificate. He can go to the inspector and the inspector will have authority to grant interim permission for greater severity for up to 14 days, pending the final decision on the matter by the Home Secretary. I do not think that is good enough. An awful lot of severity upon animals could be inflicted in an interim period of 14 days, after which the Home Secretary might decide against and say that no such procedure should take place. Therefore, I hope that paragraph 64 will not survive.
I now turn to the question of supply establishments. There will be breeding establishments and supply establishments. They will not be the same, though I suppose in most cases they will be very closely connected. I imagine that not all the animals supplied will have been specially bred. I do not suppose that that is possible. However, I hope that the supply establishments will be able to evolve procedures which will satisfy people who have terrible fears that their pet animals may one day go astray, be stolen and end up in a laboratory. Many people have these fears. Elderly people with perhaps one pet animal would like to be assured that there is an avenue leading to the laboratory through a supply establishment which can make quite sure that no pet animal which has strayed goes through that channel. Such an assurance would be an enormous relief to those people.
I wish just to mention the matter of the release of laboratory animals. Hitherto people have said, quite rightly, that no laboratory animal ever emerges; they enter that establishment under sentence of death; mysteries take place behind those walls; nobody knows what goes on—and we have the gravest fears about it. The Minister has told us this afternoon that the situation will change. There is no reason why an animal which emerges quite unharmed from an investigation should not live the rest of its life as a family pet. I cannot think of anything which would make for better relations between animal lovers and the laboratories than if animal lovers could meet socially domestic animals which had played their part in scientific experiments in a laboratory and had emerged perfectly healthy and were to be seen enjoying the rest of their lives as family pets.
Yet I foresee administrative difficulties here and I am not sure that these difficulties have all been taken into consideration. For instance, I should like to know—I am not expecting the Minister to be able to answer this question this evening, but I should like to know some time—how many domestic animals are expected to survive their laboratory experience and emerge quite unharmed and be available to be given away as family pets? Will there be enough homes available for all these animals, or will each animal have to take its chance on whether it finds a good home to go to or whether it has to be destroyed because no kind home can be found?
I wonder whether here the supply establishments could be brought back into the picture? Let them operate a two-way system: let them supply the animals to the laboratories and receive back from the laboratories the animals which are fit to be given away and found homes as family pets. Let them evolve a procedure—which will not be terribly easy—for finding as many homes as possible for these domestic animals. I believe that if those things can be done, the 1009 fears that people entertain about the laboratories will mostly be dispelled.
I have dealt with only a few aspects of this rather large subject, but there are many noble speakers to follow me who no doubt will deal with the others. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, in welcoming the Bill.
§ Viscount Allenby of Megiddo
My Lords, I am deeply aware of the honour of addressing your Lordships' House for the first time, I hope to merit the tolerance that is shown to speakers on such occasions.
To my mind, man is totally dependent on animals and indeed plant life for food in order to revitalise, to restore waste and to grow. As the complex web of life rapidly develops and spreads, so the search for solutions to man's problems is also rapidly widening. Inevitably, the solutions that we seek involve the use of animals for experiments. Clearly no steps short of complete abolition of animal experiments would satisy the wholesale abolitionist. The widely voiced views of this minority have hardened over recent years. They have become better known, whereas the scientists, whose work is largely unpublished, would prefer to work with unfettered hands and without supervision and controls. Both extremes appear to be unrealistic at the present time. Clearly for the benefit of man, medical research into cancer, muscular diseases and all the other forms of medical disorders must and will continue unabated.
It is worth remembering that it took more than 30 years of intensive research on animals—mostly dogs—to discover insulin for the treatment of diabetics. More recently, it was heartening to read in the press that, as a result of techniques used on rats and mice, research had begun on the treatment of cancer using cells from human embryos. Surely this must reflect consideration of the proper use of animals for the benefit of mankind.
Everyone hopes that the time will one day come when animals no longer need to be used in scientific experiments, though there are only a few organisations committed to immediate abolition. As the voice of the minority has become more vociferous and achieves wider publicity in the media, so has a genuine, growing concern about the welfare of laboratory animals. On the whole this has led to a better informed, much calmer, and indeed more objective dialogue on present-day problems, which is in contrast to the often bitter and at times brutal controversy of the last century. I think, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, has said, that this is reflected in the fact that there have been no criminal proceedings brought under the 1876 Act during the last 70 years, despite a very sharp rise in registered experiments from some 273 in 1876 to well over 3½ million last year, which is quite a staggering figure.
Referring again to the 1876 Act, while the Act itself does not prohibit enduring pain, it has long been administered so as not to allow animals to suffer severe and enduring pain. Pain is generally accepted to be a matter of subjective judgment. It cannot be clearly defined. Indeed, the 1983 White Paper states very bluntly that there can be no definition of the term "pain".
While accepting that a definition of pain is not 1010 possible, I believe that there is a strong communication link from man to animal and vice versa. Those who have a genuine understanding of animals in their care very soon become aware of their suffering and pain. From my own experience with horses. I know that an animal shows pain in a number of ways, though it will bear unflinchingly a great amount of pain and distress. Like man, the facial expression of the horse indicates severe pain: a deepening of the groove above the mouth, often accompanied by rolling of the eyes and flaring of the nostrils, shows clearly when a horse is in pain. Internal pain is often indicated by pawing the ground and sweating and looking at the flanks. I have had experience of a trained horse suffering acute cerebral pain being disobedient without an apparent cause. Monkeys, with nearly human behaviour, suffer and very clearly show pain in the way that we do. As recently as January 1955, there were 394 such animals which died in an unventilated van at London airport on their way to New York. It is not difficult to imagine the suffering and pain that was involved on that occasion. At that time many more perished from disease and starvation in the holds of ships. Since then, with growing international concern and the threat of the spread of rabies, stricter controls have been introduced.
We have advanced a long way in our care and understanding of experimental animals. There are now many people and organisations working tirelessly for the welfare of animals generally and their work is very commendable.
It is also most encouraging to hear of Home Office grants to study the effects of social spatial density on the growth and well-being of rats. That is aimed at improving the caging of rodents. Those and other projects all go to show the Government's interest and concern in the welfare of captive animals. One hopes that in the future there will be regulations or advice on social densities and cage sizes for all animals which are caged as well as for those which are used for experiments.
Very much in the same vein, government and scientists working in close co-operation need to continue to seek ways to find alternatives to the use of animals in experiments when and wherever possible. Alternative methods are costly and very lengthy, starting with the theoretical development of the technique, followed by validation and testing, using the genuine product in the real situation. All culminate in the issue of the important safety certificate which ensures the safeguards of the future. Using the broadly accepted categories of alternatives, we should do all in our power to persuade and to encourage the use of alternative techniques which either replace or reduce animal experimentation very much in the hope that the number of animals may be reduced further in the future.
For education and training purposes, welcome safeguards are introduced in the present legislation whereby project licences will be issued only if it can be shown that no alternative exists, and even then not for primary or secondary education. So the day of the dissection of the pithed frog in biology classes to show the working of the heart is over. One hopes that greater use will be made of photographic and video 1011 techniques, as well as models. Problems undoubtedly remain in the development of operating skills, as it remains illegal to operate on animals for the development of those skills. However, those skills may be learnt by students assisting and working with a licence holder carrying on research.
I believe that the licence holders of today who are conducting experiments have a deep understanding of the animals involved, as well as a strong sense of responsibility to avoid pain and suffering. They have to work within the bounds of modern practices in order to be above criticism and to work with the inspectors who oversee the experiments. To my mind the key to the successful operation of the new legislation must be the role of the inspector both in the conduct of the licensing procedure and in the monitoring of experiments. On the shoulders of the inspector lies a heavy burden of responsibility. Inspectors in order to be fully effective also need a wide knowledge of the animals involved—their breeding and their social and welfare requirements—coupled with a thorough understanding and an acute awareness of the experiments to be conducted. Finally, there is a great need for trust and confidence between the inspector and the scientist, both working closely together.
The new legislation is a great safeguard to bringing about greater protection and improving the way that we in this country look after the animals that are needed for experiments. One hopes that with sensible dialogue and discussion improvements, including further safeguards, will be brought about in the future. As a caring country we have a great heritage to be proud of and to protect. Experiments are essential for the benefit of mankind, but we have a heavy responsibility to protect and to ensure the well-being of the animal population for the future.
§ 5.44 p.m.
The Earl of Selkirk
My Lords, it is my privilege to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, most warmly on an interesting and extremely well expressed speech. I am certain that everyone in the House heard without difficulty every word that he said. I wish that that could be said of every noble Lord! The noble Viscount is a soldier of distinction. As a cavalry officer he spoke of horses and made the interesting point that animals show pain in quite different ways. I shall not go into it, but anyone with experience knows that. The point that he makes about horses is of great value for all to know. I hope that he will speak to us more often. The trouble that he has taken indicates that he wants to make his point very clear. I thank him warmly for what he said.
I must apologise to the House if I have to go before the end of the debate as I have an engagement that I cannot avoid. I should like first to congratulate the Minister on the clear manner in which he presented the Bill. It is not a simple Bill in its detail, but he made clear the major points that he was bringing out.
I have a particular memory, as about 30 years ago it fell to me to explain to the House what the Home Office responsibility was and what it was doing about vivisection. It was extremely embarrassing for me as 1012 the debate was raised by my former commander-in-chief, Lord Dowding, for whom I had the most profound admiration and with whom I worked during the war. Although it did not go very far, I told the Home Office that this was a matter that required thorough examination. I regret that that was not done at the time, but it was later, with the Littlewood Report, which revealed all sorts of astonishing things.
We have come quite a long way. Doctors want to gain knowledge, of course. The story goes that in Rome they possibly used slaves for vivisection. That may not be true. Bodies were certainly dug up for dissection. I quite understand that. Dissection is essential at the present time. The noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, expressed the hope that there may be a time when such things are no longer necessary. I do not know. The noble Lord mentioned that Queen Victoria took a keen interest in the matter; Cardinal Newman, Ruskin and many others did, too.
I want to read from some questions and answers before a Royal Commission in, I think it was, 1875.I do not do this because it is unpleasant, but it reveals a point of view which I must say I understand. It is in the form of question and answer:Q. When you say that you use anaesthetic for convenience sake, do you mean that you have no regard for the suffering of animals?A. No regard at all.Q. You are prepared to establish that as a principle of which you approve.A. I think with regard to an experimenter, a man who conducts a special research and performs an experiment has no time, so to speak, for thinking of what animals will suffer. His only purpose is to perform the experiment, to learn as much as possible and do it as quickly as possible.Q. Then in your purpose you disregard entirely the question of the suffering of animals in performing painful experiments?A. I do.I tell that story because it is understandable that if a man is engaged wholeheartedly in the search for a purpose that he thinks wise, he discards other things. That is one of the problems that the Home Office will have to face in due course. To find an absolute solution will be of the utmost difficulty.
May I ask a question? These guidelines are for consideration. Will they come up for amendment, or in what way can we express our views? The noble Lord, Lord Airedale, raised the point. I should like to know whether we can discuss this in Committee, or in what other way views can be expressed.
I shall mention two points which are detailed Committee points but which are important, and I should like to make them now. In the training of people for this work two things among others are very important. First, there is the handling of animals. Some people have experience and know about this. Other people simply do not know how to handle them. They do not know how to approach a dog, let alone a horse. They think it bites at the front end and do not know that it kicks at the back end. It is important that they should receive training. The second thing is the training in dealing with anaesthetics. In medicine anaesthesia is practically a separate profession. You train men for that. Anaesthesia is not an easy thing to do properly and needs proper training. I only hope that it will be one of the elements for which training will be considered necessary.
1013 Perhaps I may mention one other matter, which the noble Lord mentioned. I refer to the attendance in large laboratories when they are not operating, particularly at the weekend when the laboratory may be technically shut from, say, Saturday to Monday. It is very important that someone sees to those animals which may still be undergoing some process. They may be required to be killed. They may be in great pain. To leave, as I believe is the case now, some of the laboratories completely devoid of anyone would be wrong. I mention this point now though it is really for Committee.
Most of us will hope, as the noble Lord has said, that one day we will not need to use animals. I recognise that the Home Office has taken on the right charge. It is a big charge, and they will not find it easy, but I warmly congratulate them on doing so.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Lord Adrian
My Lords, perhaps I may add my congratulations to those of the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, on the maiden speech that we have just heard. We shall look forward to many more speeches from the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby of Megiddo. I know how delicate is the path of moderation in a maiden speech, having made one of my own on this very topic eight years ago. The noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, seemed to me to have achieved that path with very great skill.
Like the noble Lords who have already spoken, I welcome the Bill and I am very glad that the Government have decided to grasp this nettle. It seems very sensible to replace the legislation of 1876, but with, to me, this important proviso. I quote from one of the recently published White Papers:New legislation must not make it more difficult to realise the Government's duty to safeguard the community from avoidable harm and to enable scientists to continue to make progress in saving life and alleviating suffering".On the whole, I do not believe that the proposals in the Bill will make it more difficult, at least not much more difficult. I hope that the concern for the welfare of animals, in general already high, will be still further improved. I hope also that an apparent increase in paperwork will be contained by the good sense and good will of the inspectorate of the scientific community and of the welfare organisations. As in the past, these relationships will be crucial to the proper working of these proposals, and the skills of the inspectorate will be just as important in the new as under the old arrangements.
I welcome the way in which this legislation is drafted with, as far as possible, the principles in the Bill and the details in its codes of practice. The latter will be important, but for today I assume they are a separate issue. I believe that to a substantial extent the Bill before us codifies what might be called the best present practice as it has developed administratively under the 1876 Act. I believe I can say on behalf of many scientific colleagues, in universities, in the research councils and in industry, that in principle this Bill represents a very successful outcome to the consultation process which has led to its present form. We are indeed very grateful for the care with which this consultation has been carried out and the skill with which many conflicting points of view have been 1014 accommodated. There are perhaps some minor difficulties but these are probably more appropriate to the Committee stage.
There is, however, one major difference in principle between this Bill and the Act of 1876, and it has already been mentioned by a number of noble Lords. I believe that a Second Reading debate is the proper place to air this, though I should say at once that it does not prevent me from supporting the Bill as a whole. In the words of your Lordships' Select Committee, which reported in 1980, the Act of 1876as interpreted imposes no duty on the Secretary of State to form a judgment on the scientific or medical value or the need of the experiments which licensees propose to do.The Bill before us states in Clause 5(4) that,the Secretary of State shall weigh the likely adverse effects on the animals concerned against the benefits likely to accrue as a result of the programme to be specified in the licence".In the past 100 years, whatever may be felt about the precise nature of the 1876 Act, it has been the achievement of biomedical scientists in this country, working willingly within the framework of that Act, to keep this country in the forefront of medical and biological research—research at all levels from the most basic to the most applied. This has meant that the weighing of the adverse effects and the likely benefits has been made principally by scientists themselves. Some decisions would have been more cautious and some more dashing, but they were made by individuals
There are today very clear differences of opinion about the balance that has been achieved in the past between those adverse effects and the likely benefit. I do not think that the actual benefit is deniable, though some—and I do not agree with them—hold that the overall adverse effects have outweighed those benefits. Nevertheless, in the words of the second White Paper,it is our duty to the world as well as to our own people to keep our leading place in biomedical research".If the Secretary of State can improve the welfare of animals and preserve that place we shall all be very pleased indeed.
But whatever the balance achieved in the past, it will now be the responsibility of the Secretary of State to make the judgments which were formerly made by individuals. He will be responsible across the whole field of biomedical science. It will be, as has been said, a very heavy responsibility. This was pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. Perhaps I may take this opportunity of paying my own tribute to the noble Lord's work in helping to bring this legislation before the House tonight.
This is such an important change, a change from devolved responsibility to central responsibility, that I think it is worth following some of the implications. It will mean that the Secretary of State will now have to make judgments about leaps in the dark—about proposals which do not seem to have very likely benefit, whatever the intended benefit, but which turn out later on to have been centrally and innovatively important. This change implies also a degree of knowledge on the part of the Secretary of State or at least access to knowledge which probably no one person has attempted to achieve previously. It also, and perhaps more seriously, implies a loosening of that self-discipline which I believe has informed the greater part of decisions made by scientists in this country. I 1015 do not believe that our habits of thought will die quickly, but if the decision is no longer to be ours—I quite accept that it is not to be ours—I am afraid that we shall not think so carefully about it as we have in the past.
I have already said that the Secretary, of State will need all the advice he can get. I know that he will call on the many learned societies that we have in this country and on their accumulated experience. It will need to be the best advice, but one wonders what the best advice will make of Clause 24, which creates a new criminal offence for the breaking of confidentiality. It is of course quite reasonable to expect confidentiality but anyone can think up circumstances where the sight of someone else's licence application could cause difficulty. I would point out that the habit of publication is very widespread and very much insisted upon in the scientific community, but when an assessor has already done but not yet published work closely related to the work proposed in a licence application it can at present cause difficulty. However, the threat of prosecutions and prison will, I believe, make such people think twice about being involved in the advisory process.
Clause 24 is designed quite legitimately to protect the interests of the pharmaceutical industry but I fear that its main effect will be to discourage people from assisting the Secretary of State. Clause 24 as it stands would make me consider very carefully whether I would accept an invitation to serve on the proposed Animal Procedures Committee or to act as an independent assessor under Section 9(2).
Before I close, I have at this stage to declare an interest. I am currently Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge where a considerable amount of licensed work is undertaken. Your Lordships will be familiar enough with the present financial difficulties of universities and therefore the question of charges for licences must affect us considerably. The second White Paper implies that some £1.3 million will be recovered in registration fees and in fees on procedures, and that these will be new charges. The paper also implies that reimbursement will be available to those Government departments which finance research. May I ask the noble Lord the Minister whether the Department of Education and Science is one of those Ministries? If it is, is it the intention of Her Majesty's Government that payments from the Home Office will be handed on to universities and to research councils?
Before I finish I should like to reiterate my welcome to this Bill. Its structure and intention seem to me admirable. The Bill deserves—and in the relatively short time that it has been available for study has already attracted—very considerable support. I very much hope that it will be successfully enacted in this Session. May I also thank the noble Lord the Minister for his kind understanding of the aspirations and responsibility of my scientific colleagues.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of Birmingham
My Lords, I should like to add my congratulations to those others on the maiden speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby. It is not so long ago that I made my maiden 1016 speech and I know the difficulties associated with it. I should like to thank the noble Viscount most warmly for the interesting and important matters that he raised and the way in which he raised them.
I should also like to echo the appreciation that others have expressed to the noble Lord the Minister for the way in which he has introduced this Bill. I am sure that I share with many others a feeling of gratitude that the Government have fulfilled their manifesto promise to bring in a long-awaited and much-needed Bill, as well as gratitude for its content.
I realise that the Bill is to be judged not on its own, but together with the Home Office guidelines for its implementation, and when taken together these give a framework—to use the words of the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur—which is flexible yet demanding.
There is rightly much public concern—though not always very informed concern—about the ways in which animals are treated, and the provisions of this Bill so far as scientific procedures are concerned should allay that concern. I am sure that there will be appreciation that the provisions of the Bill are not narrowly confined to animal experiments but apply more widely to any scientific procedure which may cause a protected animal pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm. As the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, said, it is impossible to define pain. It is good to see that suffering and distress are included as well. It is just as welcome to find that the phrase "protected animal" includes vertebrate animals in their more developed forms during larval at embryonic stages.
I know that some Members of your Lordships' House prefer the old words of the Book of Common Prayer to the new services.
§ The Lord Bishop of Birmingham
I feel that I may perhaps gain the goodwill of some of your Lordships if I quote a word from its preface. It begins:It hath been the wisdom of the Church of England ever since the first compiling of her public liturgy, to keep the mean between two extremes".I think that the wisdom behind this Bill falls into precisely that category. It will not please extremists on either side. The anti-vivisectionists will dislike it: and so also will those who think that we have a right to treat animals exactly as we wish. This Bill strikes a happy mean. The fact that animals may be used in scientific procedures for the benefit of mankind shows that we believe that human beings have more value than animals. But the fact that we have procedures to minimise the pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm that they may have to undergo shows that we regard animals as having some intrinsic value.
In the Home Office guidelines the degree of severity permitted has to be balanced by the potential benefit of the work. It will not be easy to give cash value to this principle. For example, is the cure of the common cold as important, say, as the cure of muscular dystrophy? But at least the principle shows that it is wrong to inflict pain or suffering on an animal unless there is good reason to do so. For the same reason a project should use the minimum number of animals according to the guidelines; and alternative procedures not involving animals should, if possible, be used.
1017 I do not think that it is very helpful to speak about animal rights. Animals cannot be said to have duties, so it is hard to give them rights. But animals have a moral worth and we have a moral duty to treat them with dignity and with respect, especially as they cannot give their consent to scientific procedures in the kind of way which we rightly require from human beings.
Your Lordships may not feel that it is necessary to give reasons for this stance. Your Lordships may feel that this is a glimpse of the obvious; but not everyone accepts this view. There are those who speak of it as speciesism, a bias or prejudice in favour of the human race, similar to what we call racism or sexism. Philosophers argue about. these matters, but most would agree that although we find in the higher animals many traces of what is fully developed in mankind, there is also a qualitative difference which sets humanity in a class apart. This derives from our capacity for self-awareness, our ability to accumulate experience by the written or spoken word, our faculty for thinking conceptually and for acting responsibly toward one another and towards animals. Within the Christian tradition the relationship between man and the animals is made clear in the story when Adam was given dominion over the whole animal kingdom, but because man is said to be made in the image of God he must exercise that God-given dominion in a responsible way. If I may say so, it seems to me that this Bill, together with the guidelines so far published, gives admirable expression to these two biblical principles.
Perhaps I may, however, express a few reservations about this admirable legislation. We do not have before us as yet the guidelines for the breeding and supply of laboratory animals. This is unfortunate because to that extent we cannot know about what is involved. The noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, said that the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, in conjunction with the Royal Society, is now preparing these guidelines for submission to the Home Office. However, it might seem that without them we are in some sense being asked to sign a blank cheque. I hope that the noble Lord will give us some reassurance on this point.
I understand that these will be only guidelines. I wonder why the guidelines are not mentioned in the Bill? Must the guidelines be adhered to? I see that the Secretary of State may at any time revoke a certificate which designates a supply establishment. I presume that if the guidelines concerning the supply of animals are not adhered to, the certificate will be revoked. Again, perhaps we might be assured about that.
It raises a further point about the treatment of animals. As I have said, this Bill makes no reference to guidelines. However, the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968 refers to codes of management for animals reared for consumption. I do not see that there ought to be any difference in the conditions under which an animal, such as a rabbit, is supplied for scientific procedures, or reared for human consumption.
Do the guidelines carry less weight than the codes? I wonder why, so far as intensive farming is concerned, it is laid down in the 1968 Act that breach of the farming codes will tend to establish the guilt of the accused, whereas in the case of supplying animals for 1018 scientific procedures no such suggestion is made. Perhaps it is not necessary. Once again, I should be grateful for clarification and reassurance. An animal is an animal, whether supplied for scientific procedures or whether kept for consumption.
There are a few other points that I should like to mention. Some of us have asked for more inspectors. The Explanatory and Financial Memorandum of the Bill is welcome in that it promises that there will be a small increase in the number, but it is not clear whether the size of the inspectorate will be adequate to meet its additional tasks. Once again, I should be very grateful for some reassurance on that point.
I should like to raise a further point. I am glad to see—and I am sure that many others are delighted to see—the establishment of the Animal Procedures Committee. I notice that two-thirds of its members must have medical or veterinary qualifications, or experience or qualifications in a biological subject. I note, too, that at least one of them,shall be a barrister, solicitor or advocate".I am not quite sure of the implication of the word "advocate" here. Incidentally, it is odd that there is no requirement that any scientist on the committee has to be known for his concern for animal welfare.
Some of us have asked that there should be a further category; that at least one should specifically represent the ethical viewpoint. I have noticed a reluctance to include this category in this kind of committee anywhere; and yet we are dealing with matters which would not be the subject of a Bill at all if it were not for the strongly felt conviction that animal experimentation and procedures ought to be governed by ethical considerations. In the light of that, it is somewhat disappointing to me that this essential component is not given any formal recognition in the composition of this most important committee. Of course I realise that most, if not all, members of the committee will be alive to ethical considerations; but that is not the same as one person who is appointed specifically with ethical practice in mind.
I make these points of reservation because it seems appropriate to express them now. However, I hope that your Lordships' House will not think that they obscure in any way the very warm welcome which I want to give both to the Bill and to the guidelines so far published.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Lord Melchett
My Lords, I also welcome the Bill and I warmly congratulate the Government on introducing it. It has taken a great deal of courage and determination, not least by David Mellor. I think that all of us should be congratulating the Government—as indeed, all speakers have so far—and I add my congratulations to the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, on his maiden speech.
My noble friend Lord Houghton spoke of a moral divide on this issue. I am afraid that I am going to have the cheek to divide on morality with the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken because I do believe that animals have rights. I do not agree with the right reverend Prelate's interpretation—I do not think that it is necessarily the only one—of the Christian tradition which suggests that man was given dominion 1019 over animals. I have come to that view, but I do not intend to enter into a lengthy philosophical debate about it in this Second Reading debate or, indeed, in any other debate in your Lordships' House.
I have come to that view for two reasons. The first reason is that, as again my noble friend Lord Houghton mentioned, over recent years in particular our understanding of the behaviour of animals—especially some species—has grown considerably. We now know much more about the social relationships which animals form; the fact that many species mate for life; the fact that animals can die of grief. We now know many things which we did not know and did not understand a few years ago. That has led at the very least many people to have a greater respect for the lives and wellbeing of animals.
The other matter which has led me to the belief that animals have rights, which we, as human beings, should recognise, is as a result of the difficulty which I find—and, indeed, which some philosophers have found—in drawing a distinction between the capabilities, the capacities, the prospects for life, the ability to form social relationships and many other matters between some human beings (admittedly small minorities) and other animals. The human beings I am talking about are newly-born infants or, indeed, the human foetus; people who are terminally ill and human beings who are very severely mentally ill.
The right reverend Prelate said that animals do not have rights because they do not have duties. However, I am not aware of very many duties which human society places on the human foetus, but we still regard the human foetus as having rights after a certain stage of development, and we are right to do so. We believe that the terminally ill and the severely mentally ill have rights, but I do not think that very many of us expect them to carry out many duties. Therefore, I believe that animals have rights and it is from that perspective that I approach the Bill and the procedures which it aims to control.
As I have said that I support the view that animals have rights, no doubt I should, just for the sake of the record at least—although I hope it is not necessary—say that that does not mean that I support some of the things which have been done in the name of animal rights. I have no hesitation in condemning the use of violence against people or against animals. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise—and this is a reason why it is important for the law to be changed—that some of the non-violent but nevertheless criminal activities which have taken place against institutions where animal experiments take place (and this may be more the case in the United States than in this country) have brought to light through the finding of documents, video films and so on, gross abuses against animals.
In a recent case, for example, in the United States, a video was discovered which showed abuses against animals which I know that nobody in this House would condone for a moment, but it also brought to light links between researchers in this country and the institution in the United States where these abuses were taking place. If we want—as I am sure we all do—the criminal activity associated with the animal 1020 rights movement to come to an end, there must be not only a considerable tightening of the law but also a lifting of some of the secrecy, upon which some noble Lords have touched, surrounding this area.
We need to recognise that there are real differences of opinion about how justified human beings are in inflicting suffering and death on animals in the course of experiments, whether in the course of product testing and safety, or scientific research. There is a balance which will have to be struck under this legislation as it has been in the past, both by individuals and by governments, between the freedom of scientists to carry out scientific investigation and our concern for the animals that will be adversely affected.
The noble Lord, Lord Adrian, touched upon this point and drew our attention to Clause 5(4). He expressed some concern that, for the first time, the state would be entering into a realm which had previously been left to private decision. I have no such concern. I certainly would have concern if Clause 5(4) were to lead the Home Secretary of the day to try and make up his or her mind about the scientific validity of one particular project application. However, it seems to me far more likely—and, indeed, certainly more desirable—that Clause 5(4) should allow the Home Secretary, advised, I hope, by the Animal Procedures Committee, to look at the general field of particular tests and experiments where animals are used and to put the Home Secretary in the position of saying that such tests and experiments are no longer justified and should not continue.
I have in mind, to give some specific examples, the LD50 test; a test which I believe is now widely condemned by scientists as being of little scientific validity. I accept that it is still needed under legislation, and I regret that; and I hope that we can move rapidly to a point where it is not. Nevertheless, if there is a procedure where scientists agree that there is little scientific validity to it the Bill should provide—and it does in Clause 5(4)—a mechanism for the Home Secretary to say that it should be ended, or at least that we should take steps to end it.
I would have some other examples in my own mind. Behavioural or psychological experimentation using animals is a dubious field. It is dubious because it seems to rest on two propositions, both doubtful in themselves and self-contradictory. The propositions are that it is all right to do these tests on animals rather than human beings because animals are different from human beings, and the other proposition is that the psychological and behavioural experiments done on animals are of scientific validity because they teach us something about human behaviour. Both those propositions are dubious in themselves, and in any event seem to be mutually exclusive.
Some of the most horrific animal experiments which have been done and which have been attracted, quite rightly, a great deal of adverse publicity have been in this field: maternal deprivation tests, and so on; tests where scientists seem to have gone out of their way to think of sophisticated means of torturing animals in order to see how they react. I doubt that there is any scientific justification for that sort of experimentation. There are other fields where I know that animals are being used less and less already, for the testing of products like cosmetics and household 1021 products, and so on. Finally in this category I would include the use of animals to test weapons of war; weapons designed to kill and injure other human beings.
If I have a worry about the debate which has surrounded the two White Papers that the Government have issued about this Bill, and about the Bill itself, it is that some of the examples where animals are used in experiments, I think with no justification, are characterised by those who support the use of animals in experiments as being of no significance because so few animals are involved.
Of course, that is not true of the LD50 test but it is true that relatively small numbers of animals are used, for example, in testing cosmetics, testing weapons, or in the behavioural or psychological field. But because a small number of animals (or, for that matter, people) suffer in a particular way does not make it any less important that we should do something about it.
Far fewer people die in aeroplane or train crashes than on the roads, but we still do all we can to minimise the possibility of death in trains or aeroplanes, and quite rightly so. The fact that a small number suffer does not mean that it is any less important or that we should not do something about it. I hope that this Bill, and the framework it provides, will allow us to do this.
May I turn briefly to the detail of the Bill? Like the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, I believe it can be improved, and I hope that we shall be able to debate some of these points in Committee. I agree with other noble Lords' remarks about the Home Office inspectorate. In particular, as I understand it, under Clause 9 it is likely that the independent assessor who will be consulted by the Home Secretary will be a Home Office inspector. That is a reasonable proposition, but it should be the same Home Office inspector who will be responsible for inspecting the premises concerned. We need rather more inspectors than the Government currently envisage, and I hope that that is something we can press on the Government at Committee stage.
I also have my worries (as did the right reverend Prelate, and I agree with him on this) about the membership of the Animal Procedures Committee, and perhaps rather more fundamentally about the remit given to the Animal Procedures Committee in Clause 20. It seems to me that the committee are being asked to balance the legitimate needs of science—and I accept that that should be on one side of the balance; science and industry—with, on the other hand, the prevention of avoidable suffering. I should like to see the balance being between the legitimate needs of science and industry, on the one hand, and the importance of reducing suffering, and reducing the number of animals used in experimentation, on the other. That would seem to me to be a more equitable balance, and I am not sure that it is right at the moment. With the right reverend Prelate I think the membership of the Animals Procedure Committee could be considered at Committee stage.
A final worry, and one that has not been expressed so far, is that I am concerned at the moment about the standards applied to the care of animals which are going to be used in experimentation. Our 1022 understanding of the needs of animals in captivity has changed radically in recent years. Parliament has seen fit to introduce legislation which governs the conditions under which animals may be kept in zoos. The standards of care applied to animals kept in laboratories for experimentation would be in breach of the law were they to apply to animals kept in a zoo. The standards are now much higher for zoo animals, and I am not sure that there is any justification for keeping animals which are going to be experimented on in less satisfactory conditions than animals on public display just because they happen to be locked away in a laboratory. I hope that at Committee stage we can look at the need to improve the conditions of animals kept in laboratories, many of whom will be there for a long period and most of whom will be there for the whole of their life.
Having made those points I should like to reiterate my welcome to the Bill and add my congratulations to all the others expressed to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, and to those who have worked with him from animal welfare organisations in getting the debate to the point where it was possible to introduce legislation. I look forward to the more detailed discussion that we are going to have at Committee stage.
§ 6.26 p.m.
My Lords, I welcome any measures which propose to update and improve existing legislation, and this Bill does that. But I am not happy with this Bill in that some of the tests and experiments that have been carried out will be allowed to continue. There is a widespread feeling that experimentation on animals should cease. I, for one, do not like the idea of animals being experimented on and suffering pain and hardship, but I recognise that this practice will continue for the wellbeing of mankind.
However, there are some areas where I can see no reason at all for tests. A classic example is in connection with the tobacco and alcohol industries. We all know the dangers of smoking and the damage it causes, yet animals are consistently being subjected to continuous suffering which I feel is totally unnecessary. Surely the tobacco companies throughout (he years have gathered enough data to know how to produce safer tobacco. Smoking is not going to improve anyone's health or ever benefit mankind. It is doing the opposite. We have a free choice whether we want to damage our bodies, and Parliament has taken steps to advise the public of the dangers of smoking. I enjoy my pipe, my Lords, but I do not wish to enjoy damaging my health at the expense of animal suffering. I also enjoy a drink now and then and I know the effects it can have on me. I believe that the same arguments which apply to the tobacco industry apply here.
I am in a slight dilemma regarding the cosmetics industry. One has to define cosmetics and its purposes. People who have been badly scarred or injured, or born with severe handicaps, deserve to be treated and given the chance to face life with some satisfaction. But in the area of beauty cosmetics I see no need to use animals in this field. I have been informed that only 0.05 per cent. of animal testing is carried out in this area, but if one is using percentages one must first ask 1023 how many is 0.05 per cent. I believe that this represents, for the year 1983, over 180,000 animals. Perhaps the Minister will be able to confirm this.
Finally, one hears through the media disturbing accounts of the way animals are used in the testing of weapons, whether chemical, biological, ballistic or other types. We do not support these acts and want to see an immediate end to the use of animals having to suffer in this way. I am sure that the Minister will outline various proposals on policy relating to this. I hope that he does.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Lord Auckland
My Lords, it is quite an achievement in these days of political strife, that we have a Bill which has, broadly speaking, united just about all political parties, at least in your Lordships' House. I join unreservedly in the welcome to this Bill. As with all legislation, there must be some reservations and I am sure that we shall have a useful Committee stage where we can vent these views.
I have for some years been a member of the all-party parliamentary chemical industries group, and under the aegis of that group I have visited, with colleagues from both Houses of Parliament, a number of pharmaceutical companies, including those involved in animal experiments. I have seen some of the experiments carried out. I have seen the conditions under which the animals are kept. In fact only last week with two honourable friends from the other place I visited the experimental laboratories of a large pharmaceutical company in the Home Counties. It is often said that when Members of Parliament visit institutions (rather like in the armed forces when the brigadier comes round on his annual inspection) everything is just so, whereas on the following day or on the previous day things are not just so. But one is intelligent enough to tell when this is the case. At this establishment all those who were involved in taking us round the various experiments, after we had asked some very searching questions, gave us very frank answers.
I have also had experience over some years of serving on hospital committees, notably those concerned with mental health. Of course in mental illness, as in any other illness, pharmaceutical products are needed and rigorous testing of these products is necessary. Over the years the numbers of animals used in experiments have decreased substantially. I do not know whether the Minister can give us any figures, for example, of the numbers of dogs now used or the numbers of monkeys compared with 10 years ago. I think there are many misunderstandings here. Those who support the animal rights groups are often under the impression that hundreds of thousands of animals are used and that these animals are gathered up from all walks of life, from all establishments are not merely bred for the purpose of experiments.
My noble friend the Earl of Selkirk mentioned a very vital point with regard to weekends when animals are kept in cages awaiting experiments. He asked how rigorously these inspections take place. At the establishment I visited last week we were taken round 1024 the areas where these animals are kept. This was precisely the question we put blatantly to those in charge of our tour. There were detailed lists of temperature, humidity, and so on, of the buildings where these animals were kept. We also saw marmosets, some of whom were in smaller cages and some in larger cages where, if they are being used for experiments over a period of time, they are put so that they can have more freedom of movement. It is absolutely essential that where we have animals for experiments, whether they be monkeys, guinea-pigs or dogs, they should all have adequate accommodation and room in which to move.
As a nation we are hypocritical about animals. We give children animals as Christmas presents. A few days later they are surplus to requirements, and we read about cases where they have been thrown out of a car on to a motorway. Quite rightly, we value our animals if there is any chance of them being ill-treated, particularly as animals cannot answer back. But those who have seen or suffered from malignant cancers or who have had relatives or friends and have seen them in hospital and elsewhere always pray for their recovery. It is almost ingenuous to say that unless testing is carried out we cannot have the products to enable recovery. I recall in 1941 having a mastoid before the days of Sir Alexander Fleming and his great drug, penicillin. Since then a mastoid is a relatively minor complaint compared with 40 or 45 years ago.
On the subject of cosmetics, I believe this is an important part of the Bill. We must distinguish between the shampoos and the products for scabies, impetigo and psoriasis as against lipsticks and other forms of make-up. Again, those who have seen friends suffering from skin complaints know how very distressing these are. Therefore, I believe it is necessary to have these products properly tested.
I have briefly, two reservations about the Bill, Clause 4 stipulates the age limit of those who can be involved in these experiments. I venture to wonder whether 18 is not rather young: 21 or 25 would seem to be a more realistic age. Perhaps my noble friend the Minister can comment on what kind of work 18 year-olds can carry out. Can they give an injection to an animal, or are they merely to carry out the less skilled labour? I realise that some of these youngsters may have several scientific A-levels, but they bear a large responsibility and it is possible that when the Bill goes into Committee then Clause 4 may have to be considered again.
My second point, even allowing for the guidelines, is how some of the companies outside the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries and other registered companies will be caught under the Bill if they behave unethically? I understand that a number of companies who make chemicals and pharmaceutical products are unregistered. I wonder whether under the terms of the Bill there are sufficient teeth to catch these companies if they transgress the law.
At last we have a realistic Bill dealing with experiments on animals. I believe that the guidelines in general are humane and sensible. It has taken a long time since 1876 to get a realistic Bill. I believe that with just a few reservations, we have it and the sooner it is on the statute book the better.
§ 6.40 p.m.
The Earl of Halsbury
My Lords, before coming to the subject of the Bill, I should like, with the leave of the House, to redeem a pledge I made to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, a year ago in the course of a debate on the Motion about animal experimentation moved by my noble friend Lord Somers. He made the same point as he made tonight about random experimentation in the hope of some spin-off. In referring to it, I used a phrase which had started as a joke by our legal adviser in the Select Committee and had gained currency. I said I was speaking with regard to his point about the terrible scientist drunk in charge of a mouse and doing horrible things. I must explain that those were not the noble Lord's words, they were mine, but if you read the passage in Hansard you may think that the noble Lord himself used that expression. Not to make mountains out of molehills, I promised that I should put the record straight next time we met across the Floor of the House in the context of animal experimentation. I hope that I have now made an amende honorable on this issue.
I welcome the Bill. Some eight years ago, in the middle of a sleepless night, I tried to find something useful to do. I got up and started drafting a modern Bill and I wrote at the top of it "The Laboratory Animals Protection Bill". I think that was a good title and a better one than this Bill has. I sent it off to some friends at the Research Defence Society, of which I was president. I found that they agreed with me that some of our attitudes towards the 1876 Act were becoming a little dated and that we really ought to take the lead in trying to do something. Thus we set up a little study group and from that original draft of mine grew the first version of the Laboratory Animals Protection Bill.
At an early stage, I took what turned out to be a very important decision. I took the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, into my confidence, told him what I was doing and showed him the drafts of the Bill. The idea of submitting it to a Select Committee of this House was his idea. Though the noble Lord and I very often do not agree, we have always trusted one another, and that is what made it possible for us to work together. I am only too glad to feel that he has carried the standard on after I dropped it.
The attitude of the Government now is very different from what it was in 1979 at the Second Reading of my Bill. They were not prepared to give it any support in the other place because they wanted to wait on the publication and signing of the European Convention in this field. Six years have passed and the Convention is still not signed but I believe that the Government have changed their mind and now come up with the Bill. I should be most interested to know what has led them to this change of heart. Could it be that the fact that animal vandalism is becoming worse and worse is a motive in getting the record on the statute book to the liking of animal lovers so that there is no excuse for the courts not to apply exemplary punishment to those who vandalise laboratories? This point has been very well made by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, and others and I shall not elaborate on it.
1026 The good features of the Bill very much follow the good features, as I saw them, of my original draft and of the Bill as it came out of the Select Committee. There is a double element of sponsorship, the sponsorship of competence by somebody who actually knows the man, and the sponsorship of the importance of the project by somebody who understands how it fits in, together with provision for delegating routine procedures to properly trained subordinates operating under supervision.
There is the extension from experiments to procedures, which was a feature of my original design and the setting up of a statutory body as opposed to the present advisory body, which is merely a creature of the Secretary of State but one whose advice he is not required to take and whose findings are not necessarily reported. I wanted to see a statutory advisory body, and that is what we shall now have. The pain conditions are where they ought to be: in the licence, not written into the Bill. It is 109 years since the 1876 Act. Remembering that this is not a popular subject in Westminster, 50 militant anti-vivisectionists in a marginal constituency can change history at a general election. It is not a popular subject and we may have to wait another 109 years before we have the successor to this Act. In that case, we must build elasticity into it. Therefore, certain matters should be under the control of the Secretary of State, including, of course, the conditions in the licence.
Very difficult judgments have to come in here. In the Bill, there is a spectrum of undefined words the meanings of which we should find it very difficult to agree on in all contexts: "pain"; "suffering"; "distress"; "lasting harm", and then I believe some alternatives appear in the draft guidelines: "death"; "disease"; "any physiological stress"; "any psychological stress"; "discomfort"; "disturbance of normal health" and so on. What is "severe"? Someone has to balance, in terms of an undefined word, "severe", the incidence of all these words.
How does one do this? It is not at all clear. How does one do it, prognostic-wise? Hindsight is a precise science, and its postdictions can always be verified; but when it comes to predicting how much an animal will suffer or how much we will suffer in a particular experiment, that is not so easy, is it? I am very glad that there is a working party of the Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers which is taking this whole subject under study.
We must learn not to be defeatists because we repeat the dictum that pain is subjective. Pain is subjective. However, once I have had more than one pain, I can make an objective decision that the one was more painful than the other because they lie within my own field of subjective experience. I have been stung by an ant, a stinging nettle, a cleg, a wasp and a bee. I can arrange the severity of the ordeal in that order without any doubt in my own mind. I have not been stung by a hornet but people who have tell me that it is very much more painful than a wasp or a bee. I have an uncle who was stung by a scorpion and he said that it was the most painful thing that had ever happened to him in his life.
§ Viscount Massereene and Ferrard
My Lords, I do apologise but may I ask the noble Earl this? Surely, it depends where you are stung?
The Earl of Halsbury
My Lords, oh, yes, indeed it depends where you are stung but I am assuming that one is going to be stung in the same place each time. As an apiarist, I can tell you that it is always my hands. The same applies to taking wasps' nests and when I am stung by nettles it is also always on my hands. I can think of worse things. I have had a tooth out without anaesthetic and I have had a thumb nail off without anaesthetic. I have no hesitation in saying that the thumb nail was much worse than the tooth.
There are two very severe pains, which are classified as among the worst that man can know: severe angina pectoris on the one hand, and, on the other hand, passing a kidney stone. However it is not impossible, researching through clinical departments, to find samples of people who have had both and they can tell you which, in their opinion, is the worst. Of course there may be dispersion in all these matters. However, I believe that we could do much more about, first of all, drawing up scales of pain in this way, like the Beaufort scale for wind. The Beaufort scale does not measure wind velocity; what it says is that the first measure of wind above absolute calm is that leaves stir. The next thing is that branches wave. The next is that twigs break off; and then branches break off, and then whole trees are uprooted. The actual phenomena are made the basis of the scale. If one is at sea, one has no trees to observe but at one level the waves have white tops to them; at another level Brixham trawlers furl their topsails, and so on.
I believe that the attitude expressed by the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, was most enlightened in the sense that he was studying the behaviour of horses. We do exactly the same with the behaviour of children. How do we know if a child is hurt?—because it is crying. That is a form of behaviour. If we draw up scales of our own behaviour and associate them with scales of pain, we can begin to learn something about doing the same kind of thing with animals and quantifying what we do.
There are one or two points about the Bill which I think I shall take in Committee. I think the re-use of animals as it stands in the Bill at the moment, is too drastic an embargo. There is no reason why an animal should not be used a second time in a terminal experiment where it will be killed under the anaesthetic. I believe that the idea of releasing animals for pets is very difficult. Nobody is going to keep animals indefinitely if they are not going to serve a useful purpose. At the Institute of Cancer Research, when I was chairman of the management committee there, we used 100,000 mice a year. Finding homes for 100,000 mice, many of whom have only been used to carry a tumour for a little while, is not going to be an easy job. They will in fact be killed, I am sure.
Clause 2(4), the conditions for decerebration, are not, I believe, entirely satisfactory in their present form. I might perhaps like to communicate with the noble Lord in charge of the Bill and give him my reasons for that belief. I shall not go into them here. Then, in Schedule 1,1 have not succeeded in all cases in penetrating the thought of whoever drafted the 1028 connection between bodyweight, on the one hand, and method of terminating life, on the other. I have discussed this with scientific friends and they are not too clear exactly how these equations have been drawn up. I have only to say in conclusion that I am very glad that at this late hour this Bill has come before your Lordships' House and I hope that we shall give it every facility for a happy passage through our Chamber.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Lord Kimball
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just sat down has been characteristically modest about the enormous part that he has played in persuading the Government to have the political courage to bring forward this Bill. There is no doubt—and I was a Member of the other place—that the success he had in getting his two Bills through all their stages in this House has influenced the Government enormously in this way. May I add to what has already been said my congratulations to the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, on his maiden speech? The only thing that I am somewhat sad about is that by some quirk of the school system—and we both had the same tutors—we were deprived of his lucid argument and clear diction for the whole time that he ws a member of Mr. Jaques' debating society at school. But we certainly enjoyed it today. It is with some pleasure that I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, after many years of disagreeing with him on certain other subjects in another place. It was a great pleasure to realise what a major contribution he has made to this Bill and to the atmosphere in this Chamber today.
I wish briefly to put the view of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Their view is simply that this is a useful advance in the further protection of animals. They welcome in particular the greater involvement of the veterinary profession, which is a fine veterinary profession, which is envisaged under Claus'e 7 of the Bill. The appointment of a veterinary surgeon as part of the management team of a breeding and supply centre is a very good step forward.
It seems an odd thing to do but I think that, for once, one really should congratulate those people who are always kicked about in either House of Parliament, the parliamentary draftsmen, on drafting a really excellent Bill, a Bill in which (I hope for very sound political reasons) during the Committee stage in either House we will find it necessary to make only the minimum of refining amendments. It is, after all, the product, as has already been said, of seven years' very hard work in the working party of the Council of Europe. The convention is going to be signed this May and, for once, it is rather a unique experience to find—for when you have a piece of European legislation which affects all the countries of Europe, most national interests start to whittle away that legislation to do a little bit less than the regulations and the suggestions demand—that in this case Her Majesty's Government are going further than the regulations demand and are giving even greater protection than is really necessary.
It has already been mentioned how the number of experiments on animals is being reduced. The 3.5 million in 1984 is a great deal. But that in itself is a reduction of some 4 per cent. I should like to welcome the provision that is being made by the Government of some additional £150,000 for the replacement of 1029 animals in medical experiments. I think that this is an important step forward. It proves how determined the Government are to meet some of the objectives which have been voiced in this field. No Member of either House of Parliament can doubt the very strong feelings which there are on this particular subject, feelings which are sincerely and genuinely held on each side of the argument. I am influenced in my support for this measure by the strong support which has been expressed by the veterinary profession who, after all, are those people who are the closest to the health and welfare of the animals in this kingdom. I hope that we shall shortly see this Bill, without further political controversy, safely on the statute book.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Lord Somers
My Lords, I should like to join with other noble Lords in welcoming the Bill which I think draws the strings of control about as tightly as they can practically be drawn. Nobody with any sensitivity can look at animal experiments without dislike, but on the other hand, many of those who are most vociferous over it forget that human suffering is also a very horrible thing. Many human beings have had their lives wrecked by one disease or another so that they have been unable to live what might have been very useful lives. Surely, the sacrifice of a few animals in order to save that is not really unforgivable!
A great many people talk about abolishing the use of live animals and the use of alternatives. They do not stop to think that the alternatives, as they are at present, are of very limited use indeed, You have the tissue culture, for instance, Well, that is very good for those things which affect the tissue; but they do not cover the whole ground by a great deal. There is then organ culture by which organs can be separated from the body and kept working in their normal conditions for some little time. I am not, of course, speaking of organs such as I am used to, but of other kinds, of more hardworking kinds, shall we say. But, of course, there again they do not cover the entire ground. So I am afraid that for the time being we have got to put up with the fact that animal experiments are necessary.
My noble friend Lord Adrian expressed a doubt as to whether the fact that the Home Secretary made the decision, and that those involved were released from having to make the decision themselves was going to make things too easy for them. I do not think one need worry about that. If you are about to make an experiment, you first of all think whether it is likely to be accepted. I should have thought that the decision there is just as hard to make as whether you are going to do it yourself.
One point that worries me slightly about this Bill is the question of the repeal of the old 1876 Act. That Act, I know, was very imperfect and it has a lot of loopholes. But it is not confined merely to animal experiments. It deals with maltreatment of animals in all walks of life; for instance, the beating about of animals at a cattle market, or something like that. This present Bill will not cover that. I wonder whether there is any hope that we might later possibly have a Bill that will cover the general aspect of cruelty to animals.
Another thing that has worried me is the fact that there is no mention in the Bill of the numbers of animals that may be used in any one experiment. I 1030 believe that may be in the guidelines, and I hope that is so. Although I am not speaking with any authority, I think that there has been a certain amount of abuse in the use of, say, 100 animals where 20 would do perfectly satisfactorily. However, we shall see whether that is provided for in the guidelines.
One final point: I should like to agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, about the question of the age limit. As one who has spent a good deal of his life teaching the young, I think that 18 is much too young. I should have liked to see the age put at about 25. I am afraid that is too much to hope for, but could we make it 21 at least, because you need not only technical ability, but a sense of responsibility if you are going to deal with matters such as this? I think that 18 is too young. Apart from those two small quibbles, my Lords, which can easily be put right at Committee stage, I welcome this Bill very much.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Lord Ferrier
My Lords, of course I am one who would urge the House to give this Bill a Second Reading and a great welcome. I have been concerned with animals all my life and, in a curious way, with research into animals. I will not weary the House with that; but there is one particular matter that has come to my mind which I should like to draw to your Lordships' attention. My noble friend the Minister mentioned it in his speech: that is, the activities of the "anti" bodies. Is it possible that this Bill might be a vehicle whereby a clause could be introduced to prevent the vicious and often violent methods of the various "anti" bodies who, as the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, knows only too well, try to interfere with legitimate research in every possible way?
The bodies have considerable financial resources and well-paid staffs whose tasks may well be to interfere with much that the Government are trying to promote by the means of this Bill. That is a very serious and costly matter. Apart from the dissemination of anti-research propaganda, of which we have all been recipients, there have been (and may well be more) physical raids on establishments equipped to provide the necessary animal resources. I am thinking of the occasion the other day when an establishment was raided and a number of basset hounds—was it?—were released all over the country. Poor things! They had been bred in a kennel and had lived in a kennel all their lives, and they were just set free and spread about the country. That was cruelty beyond belief, carried out by what I call an "anti" body.
We are all dedicated to reducing the number of animals which are used and are necessary for this work. I think, as an ex-pharmaceutical manufacturer, one must realise that it is not a cheap thing to have thoroughly fit animals maintained in conditions which are acceptable to them. One's experimentation is no good if one's subjects are not fit, and I think it should be borne in mind, especially by the "anti" bodies, that we are not all inimical to animals: we love them. When one tries to calculate the actual cost to research, to the State or to the pharmaceutical industry of the loss of a series of animals who may have been taking part in an expensive experiment over a period of years, it is a very vile crime to break it up in a sentimental way. The 1031 cost in buildings and staff is an important factor. It is very considerable, and we have to maintain that. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, who inquired what happens to animals when they are locked away at weekends and there is nobody to look after them. But of course that does not happen: that is not the case. If you are carrying out experiments with animals you make sure that they are kept watched for 24 hours a day.
Would the Minister consider looking into this question regarding Clause 22, as to whether this Bill might not be made a vehicle for looking again at certain things? The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, talked, I think, about tightening up the law. Of course the law is there—the common law—in the case of a raid on premises. But this is a very important, expensive and vital business which is being interfered with by these raids. I shall read the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, with interest. What I am talking about is this: can we not use this Bill, perhaps by an extension of Clause 22, to strengthen the hands of the law because at the moment there is only the common law to be administered?
I would urge only that when we come to the Committee stage of this Bill, which I believe is going to be on the 18th, the powers-that-be will ensure that we do not have a rush over it, and that there is ample opportunity for all the contributions that can be made before this Bill is licked into shape and sent to the other place. I urge that we give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Lord Northfield
My Lords, I declare an interest, as I have done before, in that I am an adviser to a pharmaceutical company. But I hope that my record in putting through your Lordships' House, not once but several times, legislation to protect deer from cruelty shows that I am not exactly indifferent—indeed, quite the contrary—in matters of animal welfare.
I do not think that we have paid sufficient tribute tonight to David Mellor, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office. He has done so much in wide consultation, with a devotion and patience that deserves very wide appreciation. He has suffered, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, knows, together with his family, from the animal activists and has paid a penalty for this devotion to the balanced approach. I am very sure that we ought to send a message of warm congratulations to him personally for this Bill. Also, I would join with that the name of my noble friend Lord Houghton, whose persistence and dedication to animal welfare we all admire so very much. What a wonderful record he has in this field and how impossible, as one noble Lord has said, it would have been to have this Bill without his help. I hope they will both be rather pleased that the indications from Brussels are that this Bill will form the basic approach in a new draft directive that the EC Commission is working upon and hopes to bring forward on this issue. Britain in fact is leading the way with this Bill in Europe.
1032 I cannot speak on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry, but I know it welcomes the Bill and will make it work. It is perhaps worth making just a few points about the industry's record in this sphere. Some 10 per cent. of the international pharmaceutical industry's entire worldwide outlay on research and development—worth about £500 million in 1984—is based in British laboratories. So we have a very good record in this area. Some of this research is very risky financially. A viable therapy involves—and I see the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington,nodding—sometimes no less than 10 or 12 years as a development period. A major innovation can cost between £50 million and £100 million in research outlay, and of course it has to achieve very substantial export earnings in order to support R & D on this scale. And indeed it does. With exports at £1¼ billion, it is the third largest manufacturing contributor to the balance of trade. So we have a good record as an industry.
The industry supports the Council of Europe Convention for Protection of Animals in Experimental Procedures and I look back with affection on my own time in Strasbourg working on that convention. The industry is steadily reducing the use of aminals. It would like to do away with the sort of tests that are under criticism today. Its scientists are responsible people who use high standards in assessing degrees of pain. But it still stands by the view, as I think every noble Lord has stood by the view, that in order, for example, to be sure about the effectiveness of treatments on the whole body, about the side effects and about the very difficult and slim borderline between effective and sometimes dangerous doses, there is as yet no substitute for testing involving animals. There are many killer diseases yet, as the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, said, that have to be conquered. He mentioned one virus disease, and such diseases in particular need study in animals.
My main purpose in rising is to say a few words about three or four main criticisms of the Bill that we can expect from the activists. But before doing so, I want to make a particular point. Many noble Lords have talked about the double-headed licensing system which is the key to the Bill. I go a good deal further than that. I think the significance of the Bill is the impressive chain—and almost unprecedented chain—of checks, controls and accountability that form the safeguards in the Bill as a whole.
If you look at them it is a long chain. There are the complex rules that will govern personal licences and applications to be signed by someone of undoubted repute. The new and most important project licensing system will have such wide effects, as the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, pointed out. The Secretary of State must evaluate projects before licensing them; he must be satisfied about the medical or veterinary purpose; he must weigh the benefit expected against the possible adverse effects on animals and he must be sure that there are not adequate substitutes, if cats, dogs or primates are proposed for use in the project. That is already a long chain of protection.
But then the research establishment must be licensed and checked upon. It must have a designated person in charge of animal welfare and a vet—able to call in an inspector if need be—checking and advising 1033 on animal health and welfare. There is the control over the supply of animals. There are the conditions and guidelines that will go in all the certificates and licences. There will be the possibility of independent assessors or the new Animal Procedures Committee.
There will also be the new inspectors. I hope that they will be expanded from the 15 that they are today. One hears that there are to be only 18, but I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, that that is hardly sufficient for all the work that will be arising on this Bill. We note that they will again have an overriding power to order the destruction of an animal in distress.
Then, last of all, we have the Animal Procedures Committee—a new invention which will not be a tool of the Secretary of State. It must balance protection against suffering against legitimate requirements of science and industry. But, most significant, it can also initiate advice and command research work "relevant to its functions"—a happily broad remit that should give it enormous influence as the years develop.
May I therefore now look at some of the criticisms that we may expect from the animal lobby, or at least those who take an extreme position in these matters? First, they will say that animals are not needed at all or are needed in only a small fraction of projects; that alternatives are available and that notorious tests, like the LD50 test, should be banned in the Bill. I am not going to start a scientific argument that is beyond me. I am, however, satisfied that at the very least they exaggerate their case about the effectiveness of testing outside the body. But, more important, they should realise the immense advance that the Bill offers to their point of view.
First, the Secretary of State in that crucial subsection (4) of Clause 5 must weigh the likely adverse effects on the animal against the benefit to science or medicine of the proposed project. He is pitched right into a clear evaluation of the work proposed, and in my view he will be pitched right into making a decision as to whether the use of an animal is at all justified in a particular project. Have the animal activists realised what an immense advance this is? Independent assessors can be called upon and the Animal Procedures Committee can be asked for advice before a licence is given—and, as I said, the committee itself can itself offer advice.
I wonder whether the animal lobby realises the new era that the Secretary of State's powers and the new committee represent. The committee will be a proper outlet for their pressure as a lobby, if they will use constructively the machinery of evidence and proposals to the Minister and to the committee in a constructive dialogue. How much better it will be if they will act in this way, instead of their disruptive activity. I gather that there are now 200 or 300 cases about the country awaiting prosecution for their activity. I think the community will hardly tolerate much more, if they continue in this way and do not use the machinery that is now open to them to put legitimate pressure and ask for open dialogue about the sort of decisions that the Secretary of State will have to make.
As for the LD50 test, the industry is already using it less and less and would like to be rid of it if toxicity testing can be accepted in other forms. It is regarded as 1034 artificially accurate in its results and, as the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said in a debate here a year ago. it is being replaced by limit tests and other means of testing toxicity.
The second criticism we must expect is that "too many drugs are being developed"—"me-too drugs" as they are often called—when we already have sufficient of them. This is a doubtful assertion anyway, and at today's costs of so many millions of pounds over so many years, as I have said, companies are not going to do much R & D that is repetitive. Drugs need to be refined to cover individual reactions to them, and the Committee on Safety of Medicines is for ever asking for more safety and fewer side effects; even, for example, whether somebody can do something about the effects of aspirin on our insides.
In any case, I come back once again to the revolution that the provisions of the Bill provide. It will be the duty of the Secretary of State, before granting a project licence, to be sure that the work is not just repetitive, to be sure that it is justified and that the effect on the animals is more than counterbalanced by the medical benefit that can be expected. And. once again, this is just the sort of issue that the Animal Procedures Committee can watch and research upon and then issue guidance about. I hope that the Animal Liberation Front will see the opportunity for constructive dialogue that the Bill is offering.
Finally, there will be the criticism that the Bill does not provide for lay ethics committees to oversee procedures. A year ago when we debated this matter, the Home Office Minister read out part of an address by Sir Andrew Huxley, President of the Royal Society, on this point. He was clear that such committees have been tried elsewhere in other countries, mainly as an alternative to our own long tradition of Government inspectors whose advice is generally acceptable and effective. If we add all the other checks that I have been talking about—the responsibility of the Minister to evaluate designated establishments, two staff concerned with animal welfare in each establishment, inspectors giving overriding instructions, conditions in licences about pain, guidelines and the role of the committee—then I am sure, as Sir Andrew Huxley said, that it will be superfluous to add to that ethics committees. The balance is about right in the Bill and the lay views will have adequate expression and influence if they use the procedures that the Bill allows them to have. In so many ways this is a remarkable Bill and one which has such wide agreement. I hope that we will hurry it quickly onto the statute book.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Viscount Massereene and Ferrard
My Lords, I should like first to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, on his maiden speech. I knew his father very well. We used to play polo together. I also know that the noble Viscount's grandfather was a Field Marshal. My father was on his staff in the Middle East for some time.
I give a welcome to this Bill, but there are one or two minor points which will have to be examined in Committee, although I will not necessarily waste the time of the House describing them now.
1035 It is an extraordinary thing that diseases in animals today are far more numerous that they ever used to be. The reason is that we try to increase per cent. lambing and to fatten bullocks and poultry by injecting them with hormones, and so on. I believe that is one of the reasons why there have to be so many experiments on live animals. Wild animals are subject to hardly any diseases.
Perhaps it is outside the ambit of this Bill—in fact, I know it is—but I cannot resist asking my noble friend the Minister to comment on one aspect of cruelty which I suppose is the responsiblity of the Ministry of Defence. I am told that pigs are shot at with various weapons, not in order to kill them but to wound them so that the way in which a bullet affects the body of a live pig can be established. I understand that the pig is quite like us, although not mentally—though perhaps some more than others.
§ Viscount Massereene and Ferrard
Yes, my Lords; the noble Lord is quite right.
I object to what was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham when he commented that animals have no rights. I remind the right reverend Prelate that man is the only species that destroys its own kind. There may be sexual fights between two stags or other animals in the mating season, but they are seldom fatal. However, I agree with the right reverend Prelate when he says that there will be no one on the Animal Procedures Committee established by Clause 19 who can speak up for animals. There will be solicitors and barristers, but no one to speak for animals. That situation ought to be rectified. Some laymen have a lot of practical experience and could be very useful.
It is also very important that one should have the right people to judge the extent of pain and when an animal ought to be destroyed. It is also important to have the right people to be able to tell when a person is efficient enough to experiment on live animals. Those are the two most important points in this Bill.
I am also not very happy about a provision in Clauses 3 and 4. What I do not understand is that whereas it is stated in one place that a licence cannot be issued to a person under the age of 18, which I believe is quite correct, in another part of the Bill it is stated that the Secretary of State can do so. That does not seem very sensible. The Animal Procedures Committee should be asked to examine this matter. I should also like to know (although I do not expect my noble friend the Minister to tell me now) what are the department's views. This aspect is a little vague, and I should welcome some clarification.
When it comes to the question of termination—when an animal has suffered so much pain that the time comes for it to be killed—my understanding is that the licence holder is not allowed to order that killing but has to wait for the owner of the project licence to do so. The owner of the project licence might be playing golf—
§ Viscount Massereene and Ferrard
In any event, my Lords, he might not be there even though he is sponsoring the programme. That point is one that needs looking into because if an animal is suffering pain the sooner it is killed the better, bureaucracy should not be allowed to hold up that process. The ideal solution would be to have an anaesthetist or at any rate a veterinary surgeon available for the whole 24 hours, but that may be impossible to arrange in small establishments.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I hate to interrupt my noble friend but I give my reassurance that there is no question of an animal suffering in any sense having to await the bureaucratic process before it can be painlessly destroyed. The individual holding the personal licence and doing the work will be able to perform that task.
§ Viscount Massereene and Ferrard
My Lords, I am very glad to hear that from my noble friend.
The other question I wish to raise concerns Clause 17 and the matter of muscle relaxants. Surely an anaesthetist ought to be present in that instance, too, or a veterinary surgeon. However, I understand that that will not be so. I may be wrong. I do not want to ask my noble friend many more questions. He can always write to me, and many of these points will no doubt be dealt with in Committee.
I must, however, mention the parmaceutical industry, which is a vast and powerful one. Presumably pharmaceutical companies are always vying with each other to produce the best product. I understand that according to the proposed law, if one is a licensee and is under the impression that a scientist is doing something extremely cruel in order to produce a new product to serve industry, then if one reports that one can be prosecuted and severely fined for giving away a trade secret. I sincerely hope that there is some way round that because we are talking about animal welfare, which should come first, before giving away the secret of a new product. I should like to make that point.
I have spoken for long enough. I welcome the Bill, which is a great improvement on the existing legislation. It is bound to be after 109 years, and when one considers the vast advance in technology even in the last few years. Therefore, I hope it has a safe passage through this House and through another place and that it will soon be law.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Lord Walston
My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, has said many interesting things, some of which I agree with and others I do not. However, I must say I was surprised at his final remark. From what I know of the noble Viscount I should have thought, on the whole, that he would consider that something which was 109 years old was better than something modern. I was surprised when he voiced that accolade for modernity.
This has been for me a most heartening debate. It has been good to listen to so many people, starting off 1037 with such different points of view, all with great knowledge and experience of their own and yet finding such a very large measure of constructive agreement among them. A large part of that, of course, is due to the admirable presentation by the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, who could not have presented the Bill, good as it is, in a better way. At the same time I should like to pay my tribute to the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, for his very delightful, knowledgeable and wise speech. I will not say that it was refreshing to hear from him because that would sound as if I needed refreshment after listening to the speeches of those noble Lords who preceded him, and that is not so. It was a very happy speech indeed.
I am glad to be speaking towards the end of this debate because the subject is one which has been very close to my heart for, I think I can say, almost as long as I can remember. I give three reasons for that. The first, of course, is that I am, in company with almost all your Lordships, an animal lover. As a countryman with a farm I have been brought up with animals and lived with animals for the better part of my life. Although they are from time to time absolutely infuriating—as, indeed, are human beings—one cannot help being, in general terms, a lover of animals.
My second interest stems from the fact that, about 50 years ago in the days when I was a research scientist, I was the holder of a very modest form of licence from the Home Office to conduct animal experiments. My third reason is that some 25 years ago I sat on a Home Office committee looking into these matters and trying to see how the ancient Act could be improved. It is, therefore, a particular pleasure to see what has been achieved now.
It goes without saying that I am very far from being an anti-vivisectionist. I realise, as do all your Lordships, that enormous advances have been made over the years and decades—one could almost say over the centuries—in the treatment and cure of human diseases, and indeed of animal diseases. Those advances could not have been made without inflicting some degree of suffering or pain—call it what you will—on animals. But better that than that human beings and, as I say, animals should have gone on suffering and dying from the diseases which afflicted us 100 years ago, 50 years ago and still afflict us, and which will not be cured unless we are able to allow our scientists to make use of animals in their search for cures for disease.
Clearly, control is needed. We are all agreed on that. The control must be directed towards minimising the suffering of animals. This Bill sets out to do that and, in my view, it succeeds to a very large degree. In certain respects it could perhaps go further and in due course possibly it will. I have a few points to make some of which have already been made, notably by the right reverend Prelate, with whose speech I found myself in complete agreement. Whether they are practical at the present time and whether they should be incorporated in the Bill or in the guidelines are matters which we can discuss later.
I share the view which has been expressed about the testing of cosmetics. The word "cosmetics", as has been pointed out, is an all-embracing word. We normally think of cosmetics as being the sort of 1038 ointments and decorations that ladies put on their faces. But there are also the preparations that gentlemen sometimes put on their faces, that we put on our teeth when we scrub them, and that plastic surgeons put on those who have been damaged in motor accidents, by fire, and so on. But I cannot help feeling, for all that, that there could be a degree of restriction on the use of animals for the testing of new cosmetic preparations, particularly those which come under the normally accepted definition of cosmetics.
Then there is the issue of alternative methods, also mentioned by the right reverend Prelate. I know the guidelines mention this, but I cannot help wondering if it would not be better to incorporate something in the Bill itself. It is now very many years since I first worked with tissue culture at Cambridge, which I like to think was the home of that technique. Enormous advances have been made since then. Undoubtedly there are already many techniques which can be, and usually are, used in place of animals—techniques which involve no animals as such but use tissue culture instead. In the years ahead there will undoubtedly be more examples of that and eventually we may arrive at the time when only a minority of experiments need to be done on whole animals. If the emphasis could be made rather more positive than is achieved by simply mentioning the matter in the guidelines, I believe it would be a very great advance; especially given the fact that, whether it will take over 100 years before a new Bill is presented to your Lordships or a rather shorter time than that, we cannot expect to have Bills of this kind coming forward every five or 10 years as science advances.
Above all, the success of this Bill depends primarily upon the inspectorate and upon the Animal Procedures Committee. Those are the two bodies that will make the Bill a success or a failure. I have complete confidence in the inspectorate. I believe that in the past it has done a good job and I am certain that in the future it will continue to do a good job.
Again, like the right reverend Prelate, I cannot help wondering whether 15 inspectors is an adequate number to do this job properly. There are an enormous number of experiments—over three million—carried out every year, though admittedly many of them are very minor. Perhaps I should have informed myself, but I do not know how many centres there are where such experiments are performed.
The Earl of Halsbury
My Lords, if the noble Lord will give way, I can give him the figure. There are about 600 centres, which would make a relatively light workload for an inspector per year.
§ Lord Walston
I thank the noble Earl, my Lords. In other words, there are about 40 centres for every inspector, which means—given the fact that the inspector sometimes takes a holiday—one week for each centre if he is to visit them once a year. It is a pretty heavy workload when you consider the amount of work that an inspector has to do in order to do his job properly—as he does.
§ Lord Melchett
My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to make a point about this matter as well. One centre may contain a large number of 1039 laboratories and very many scientists doing very many different experiments.
§ Lord Walston
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his intervention, which emphasises the point that the inspectors have a very heavy workload. We must remember that they do not spend the whole of their time going round from one centre to another and from one laboratory to another. They make reports, attend committee meetings, and must keep themselves up to date. I shall not elaborate on this point.
I feel that many people, including myself, would have far more confidence in the effective working of this Bill if the total number of inspectors were increased. If it were increased to only 20 or 25, it would not be an enormous burden on the Exchequer. It would enable people to feel that the inspections were being properly carried out and I think it would meet with approval from the inspectorate itself.
As regards the Animal Procedures Committee, again I find myself in agreement with the right reverend Prelate. It is correct that the members, the statutory members as it were, should be there. Basically the committee must be composed of people who understand experiments, have been involved in them themselves, have contact with science and the way in which it is moving, and who are respected people in their field; but some of the members should be lay people. I believe that at least one, and preferably two of them, in some way should be representative of those who are not concerned with research and experimentation, who are not scientists, but who are concerned directly with animal welfare. I do not know whether it would be possible for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to have the right to submit a list with a certain number of names to the Secretary of State from which he could choose one or two to serve on this committee. This point needs discussion and we may broach it at a later stage. I believe the effect of this Bill would be greatly enhanced if the Animal Procedures Committee could be strengthened in this way.
I do not think I need repeat at any length what I said at the beginning of my speech. I think this is a good Bill. It is a very great advance and does great credit to all those who have been concerned in its preparation, not least, if I may so call him, my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby. I am sure the Bill will leave your Lordships' House in an even better state than it has entered it.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend—if I may call him such—Lord Walston, when he says what a pleasant debate this has been. It has been pleasant for a number of reasons. First, because there has been unanimity throughout your Lordships' House in regard to the courage with which this Bill has been brought forward, and agreement with its main principles. It has been pleasant, too, because we have been congratulating each other. Rightly was the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, paid the compliment of having introduced this Bill with great clarity and of being the first Minister for over 100 years to bring in the Bill for this measure by addressing your 1040 Lordships' House, which, quite rightly one would have thought, is the House to which this Bill should have been first committed.
I expected to get great pleasure, as I did, from all the compliments paid to my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby and it would possibly only lessen the compliments if I tried to add my own, in view of the fact that he said that he was so much safer sitting where he was with me sitting where I was, as proximity might have engendered some disagreement.
Compliments were also deservedly paid to the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, who in the course of a most informed speech tried to compare the painfulness of stings from wasps, bees and hornets. Such is the regard in which the noble Earl is held in this House that I want him to know that possibly the most painful sting of all is when we come to disagree with him in debate and find that he is an antagonist and not an ally. One could see some of the anti-sting lotion applied with a great deal of charm to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, at the beginning of the speech.
Organisations have been thanked also. I should rather like to add to the list—in doing so I hope I do not omit any others—the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That society has a proud history and it has added to it by a very moderate approach to this Bill with many constructive suggestions made to me and other of your Lordships from which I think we have benefited. There is no doubt that this Bill, which has as its main object, principle and advantage, the idea of translating what was a general, vague sort of control into a very particular, detailed control by the granting of licences and various other procedures, is a satisfaction to those of us who are so proud of our tradition of caring for animals, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, at the beginning of his speech. If I may say so, it is also a tribute to another characteristic that we as a nation possess, which is that of making sensible compromises.
I could not quite see the sense of compromise on the theological discussion which took place between the right reverend Prelate and my noble friend Lord Melchett. For various reasons I possibly ought not to enter a debate on that theological matter. One thing I noticed—and possibly it reflects the sense of the whole of the debate which has taken place tonight—was that the first sentence of the explanatory memorandum reads:The Bill repeals the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 and provides for a new system of control of scientific procedures carried out for approved purposes on living vertebrate animals other than man".In that sentence I thought we were quite rightly put into the same family of living vertebrate animals, but that under this Bill the sole exception was man. If we are to look after the members of our own family who do not enjoy our privileges of speech and communication and who rely upon our so-called wisdom—if I remember correctly, in spite of a biblical doubt as to whether we were in fact superior to animals, for all is vanity—then this is a duty which I hope we are fulfilling under this Bill.
It is a good Bill. Some of us feel that amendments should be made in Committee, and we shall enjoy the later stages. I wonder whether in the few moments at 1041 my disposal I may mention some of the points which occur to me and which have been mentioned in the debate. I said that in the Bill everything depends on proper administration, and the noble Lord, Lord Walston, stressed that too. Other noble Lords said that we should not allow the Bill, with its good principles and planning, to fail because we have not provided at Home Office level for the due administration of its provisions because we do not have enough inspectors or they are not of sufficient calibre. We must see that there are sufficient inspectors and that they are of sufficient calibre.
Let me come to some of the clauses. I said that Clause 5(4) was important new ground, as have others. It is always a privilege to listen to the expert voice of the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, in your Lordships' House. He drew attention to the provision whereby the Home Secretary is required to,weigh the likely adverse effects on the animals concerned against the benefit likely to accrue".That is a terribly important principle which has been underlined in the debate. But ought not the Home Secretary to be required also to look at how justifiable it is to use animals at all—I think that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, hinted at that—and to see whether there are alternative procedures? Should not that be written into the Bill, as against being put in any code that there might be?
Many noble Lords—my noble friend Lord Melchett, the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, the noble Earl, Lord Grey and the noble Lord, Lord Walston, were among them—brought into the issue decorative cosmetics, household products and tobacco and alcohol. I hope that the discretion exercised after advice by the Home Secretary will see that few, if any, licences are granted under that category.
I think that it was the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, who said that it was necessary to see that there was adequate training of licensees. There is no provision in the Bill for that, and much suffering is caused by a lack of training. I hope that this will be one of the matters that will be considered—and I know that the RSPCA is hoping so too—by what is called so far in the Bill (and I am using my words carefully) the Animal Procedures Committee. I pause there. I do not know at what time in the morning it was that the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said that he was considering drafting a Bill which he named the Laboratory Animals Protection Bill. It is extraordinary, because in the morning, but not at an early hour, I looked at this Bill and thought what a miserable name it was for this committee—the Animal Procedures Committee.
First of all, I do not suppose that animals will necessarily like all this being called procedures, but apart from that I do not think that humans ought to like it, either. Can we not show the purpose of the setting up of the committee and the philosophy of the Bill by calling the committee—and this is what I wrote down—the Laboratory Animals Protection Committee? That is what it is supposed to do; and let the whole nation know that the committee has been set up to protect animals properly, weighing the proper balance. Let that be the name.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, that makes it even worse from my point of view and makes the name that I tried to put before your Lordships even more favourable, if I may say so.
One welcomes all the provisions in the Bill which deal with the prevention of pain, and they are set out in Clause 6(5). I shall not make a long address to your Lordships, because I suppose that it is a Committee point, but it helps the Minister, I know, to be told in advance of some of the points that may come up and I think that it helps your Lordships, too, provided one does not make long speeches. There is a pretty long procedure—and this has been pointed out by some organisations—where a veterinary surgeon or other suitably qualified person must be specified to be available to give advice on animal health and welfare, and if they are concerned, both have a duty to take action. If action has to be taken under the Bill, the day-to-day person has to inform the veterinary surgeon or the suitably qualified person, and the latter informs the licence holder and possibly an inspector. As has been put to me, it is a pretty long chain of communication. One would hope that obviously and sensibly both categories—the veterinary surgeon and the day-to-day person—should be authorised to dispense pain relief without having to consult the licensee or the inspector.
I think that it was the noble Earl. Lord Selkirk, again, and the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, who mentioned the question of 24-hour surveillance, it is not so much in all cases that there has to be 24-hour surveillance as that, where there is a risk of suffering during the night or at weekends as a result of an experiment and it is known that that is so, without doubt there should be provision that there is surveilance overnight and at weekends.
People have talked about the composition of the committee, whatever we may call it. As the Bill stands, there is no doubt that the balance does not seem to be quite right. Scientists who are undoubtedly eminent in their field but who are known to have animal welfare very much at heart should find their way on to the committee.
I could mention various other matters which indeed I find in my notes, but in a winding-up speech it does no good merely to repeat in rather worse language points that have been made by others in much better language. I can sum up the debate by saying that happily there is unanimity among your Lordships in whatever place you may be sitting that this is a worthwhile Bill which may have to have amendments. Its purpose is worth while; the thinking, the coalition and the co-operation that took place before the Bill came before your Lordships have been worth while, and the Government properly deserve congratulation on putting the Bill before Parliament. We ought to support it all that we can.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, we have had an interesting and lively debate. It has attracted expert scientists, on the one hand, and expert campaigners on behalf of animals, on the other. Throughout the debate much varied experience and wisdom has come from so many of your Lordships.
1043 The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, referred to the Deer (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill. I remember it very well, How could I possibly forget it? The noble Lord played a major part in it, as did the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. I well remember the dire warnings that he gave me then about the rough time that lay ahead of me. There were then the anecdotes of my noble friend Lord Massereene. It is really rather like old times. That Bill had about 160 or 180 amendments before it finally reached the statute book, but I detect from what has been said today that this Bill has rather less to come. I must confess that I have found all that has been said most encouraging.
The debate has also provided us with an opportunity to listen to the very perceptive maiden speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby. His contribution, I felt, went right to the heart of the matter. The noble Viscount rightly pointed out that people with experience of animals can recognise pain and suffering in animals. We have no doubt that experienced scientists and animal technicians can understand the behaviour of their animals. The quality of our animal technicians in this country is extremely high. Indeed, I referred to them earlier. They do a great deal to keep scientists on the right track, and they are a very great help to the Home Office inspectors, too. The Government welcome the work being done by the Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers in preparing guidelines on the recognition of pain in laboratory animals.
Perhaps I can give the noble Viscount one other piece of reassurance. He hoped that there would be advice on social densities and cage sizes for all animals kept for experiments. This is a central strand in the recommendations being prepared by the Royal Society in collaboration with the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. It will be a great help to all the people in scientific establishments and to the Home Office inspectors. Having served with the noble Viscount in the same regiment, I know personally of his interest in animals, especially horses. So it is a particular pleasure to me to be able to congratulate him on an excellent maiden speech, extremely well delivered, and to say how much we all look forward to his further interventions in the future.
I said earlier that this Bill was the first government legislation—indeed, it was referred to, too, by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton—for more than a century on a subject which requires the most difficult and morally challenging balance to be struck: a balance between society's welfare and the deliberate infliction of suffering upon animals. The proposals in the Bill represent the culmination of a long period of detailed consultation and will, if enacted, result in a much improved system of assessment and control of animal experiments. I am encouraged by those who have said that they believe the framework which we have proposed should be flexible enough to enable us to adapt to the challenges and changes which undoubtedly lie ahead in the field of biomedical and biological research.
There are, of course, a number of points in the Bill and matters not touched upon directly by the Bill which give rise to concern, or which merely require 1044 elaboration. We shall of course give all those points our very careful consideration. But perhaps I can try now to answer some of the points which have been raised this evening.
The noble Lord, Lord Airedale, was rightly concerned about pure research for no fixed purpose. He referred to paragraph 50 of the guidance notes. The noble Lord raises a valuable point about the drafting of this paragraph. As I said in my opening remarks, the guidance notes are only in draft and we hope to have comments on them to enable us to put things right where they are- not quite right yet. The noble Lord is right in saying that researchers must have a clear and well-defined purpose. Random research will not be permitted. We shall carefully consider also the other points that he made about guidelines; and the noble Lord referred particularly to paragraph 64. On one thing I can assure him. We shall make quite certain that pet animals cannot be improperly diverted to experiments.
My noble friend Lord Selkirk raised a number of points. Although he is not here at the moment and gave me notice that he would have to leave early, I think some of the points, particularly to do with the training of those who hold licences, are of such importance that I should go through them. The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, referred to them as well. On the question of the draft guidance itself, it is not part of the Bill but I am quite sure that it will be possible to discuss it. I cannot see how we can go through the Committee stage without bringing in aspects of the guidance as we proceed. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary and I will consider carefully, as I have indicated, any suggestions which come forward for changing the guidelines.
As to the handling of animals, the application of anaesthetics and the need for attendants or staff to be at establishments during closed periods, at weekends and so on, perhaps I may say to my noble friend and to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, that, yes, licensees are trained in handling. They are trained by the most experienced animal technicians and others who are experienced licensees. Training courses are available, and most of the handling is carried out by trained animal technicians. Licensees or putative licensees are trained to carry out anaesthetic techniques. They are trained in this, again, by experienced senior licensees. We shall ensure—indeed, we shall require—that the seven-day cover for all registered places where experiments are performed is strictly adhered to.
I welcome the eminent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Adrian. The noble Lord has of course been a great help to successive Home Secretaries in his capacity as a member of the advisory committee. On the question of the balance between severity and merit, it is a very difficult area, as the noble Lord will appreciate. The Home Secretary cannot expect to be certain of the outcome of experiments. Research is uncertain: otherwise, it would not be undertaken. The status and qualifications of applicants is a major factor. All this, as the noble Lord knows, is gone into in more detail in paragraphs 49 to 61 of the draft guidance. We are confident that the new controls will not unreasonably inhibit science but will benefit the welfare of animals.
1045 On confidentiality, I respect the noble Lord's views and concern but we do not believe that this clause will lead to the prosecution of inadvertent or trivial disclosure. There is the further protection that prosecutions require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. We have to be fair to licensees and applicants and protect their confidences. The noble Lord asked a specific question about funding for the DES. It is certainly the Government's intention that the Department of Education and Science will be refunded its fees in the first year and that the universities and research councils will get their grants adjusted accordingly. I hope that for him that is good news.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham and the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, raised the question of severity of pain and asked why it does not feature in the Bill. The noble Earl went a long way to explain this to the right reverend Prelate. They also raised the question of the definition or grade of pain. This is a very important feature of the Bill. It is a real difficulty in the consultations that have taken place up till now, and I shall expand on them a little. The detailed operation of the controls on severity, including severity banding, is I suggest too complex (the noble Earl said the same), subjective and varied to deal with comprehensively or meaningfully in the Bill itself. These are not suitable matters to try to define in detail in an Act of Parliament. We can control them far more effectively through individual licence conditions; but the principles on which the controls will operate are set out in detail in paragraphs 49 to 64 of the draft guidance notes. The standard conditions by which the controls on severity will operate are to be found in Annexes C and D to that document.
Neither the Bill nor the guidelines attempt to define pain, but grading pain is a different matter. That is precisely what the noble Earl so vividly did himself. We feel that it is possible to distinguish broad degrees of pain and distress and to assess other effects that a procedure may have on an animal. I certainly agree with my noble friend Lord Massereene that we need suitable people at every stage to judge this sort of thing. This is something which inspectors and licence holders will very clearly bear in mind.
The right reverend Prelate referred to the Royal Society and Universities Federation for Animal Welfare guidelines. I hope that he will be reassured when I tell him that they will be ready next year. They are expressly referred to in the Bill in Clause 21. If the right reverend Prelate looks at the Bill, he will see that. They will be the main criteria on which the Home Secretary will rest in considering whether to authorise establishments and in monitoring their performance.
Both the right reverend Prelate, and the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, were concerned about the need for the ethical viewpoint to be brought forward. I hope that he will accept from me that members of the new committee will be concerned with ethics. But what the right reverend Prelate says about this is of course of great interest. I can say that Canon Gordon Dunstan has been a very valuable member of the advisory committee in recent years.
The question of the effectiveness of the inspectorate is also of great importance. We are conscious of the additional burden which the new, more extensive, 1046 controls will place on the inspectorate. We are currently assessing the likely workload and I can assure your Lordships—and this will be of particular interest to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, who raised the point—that we intend to maintain the strength of the inspectorate at a level which will enable it to operate as effectively as at present. I cannot put an exact figure on this yet but I do not think that when the final figure is arrived at the noble Lord will be much disappointed.
The noble Earl, Lord Grey, and the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, referred to the question of alcohol experiments, and experiments on tobacco. One does not need to have an involvement with the medical profession to know something of the tragically high cost of alcohol abuse. Those who say that alcohol's effects are a self-induced ill, and because of this do not justify associated animal experiments, I think rather gloss over the many aspects of human behaviour. These arguments do not help to counteract the toll of suffering involved. We have to be rather more broadminded about this. The hazards of alcohol are not fully understood and the physical and psychological basis of alcohol and alcohol dependence and abuse is not clear, either. Of course, there are many victims of alcohol abuse who cannot be said to have brought it upon themselves—such as the unborn child of a mother who drinks heavily, and the hapless victim of a drunken driver. It is a matter of concern, but I fear that those considerations must weigh i n our minds as well.
The same applies very largely to smoking. However, in 1975 the advisory committee examined the question of experiments involving tobacco following the controversy surrounding the so-called "smoking beagles" which we will all remember. Its recommendations, which were accepted by the government of the day, led to the restrictions on the use of cats and dogs in that kind of experiment but the committee did not recommend an outright ban on those kinds of experiments. The advisory committee has now been asked to review the current position on tobacco research and my right honourable friend will await their report with interest.
Both the noble Earl, Lord Grey, and the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, raised the question of animals and wounding experiments. Can I assure both noble Lords that we shall not allow the use of animals to test the efficacy of weapons of war. Successive governments have in any case taken the view that this is really quite unnecessary. The point of concern is one of treating wounds; and the study of wounding is undertaken to increase knowledge of the effects of wounds. If the noble Lord thinks of the experience of the Falklands, for example, he will realise that that study can contribute to the improvement of treatment. Of course in this sort of very regrettable necessity of operation all animals are deeply anaesthetised; and no animals, as I have said, are used in work just to test the effects of weapons.
So far as concerns tests on cosmetics, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, said it all in a way. We unfortunately need to do a number of these tests because so many of the things are used in everyday life. What is encouraging—and this will help the noble Earl, Lord Grey—is that the number of cosmetic tests was not as high as he suggested. I think that he gave a 1047 figure of 180,000. In 1983 it was only 18,000; and it had fallen again in 1984 to 17,500.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, before the noble Lord passes on, will he deal with domestic cosmetics? That was what those of us who raised the subject were talking about.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I will expand on it because cosmetics in this context mean much more than just the kind of products which are customarily thought of, such as lipsticks. We are talking of items like soaps, shampoos, and even toothpastes. These are by far the majority of the items covered by this term. The substances are used by millions of people every day. There is a clear duty to ensure that substances are safe for the user and safe for the people who spend their working lives producing them, as my noble friend Lord Auckland has said. We have to ensure that there is scope for the development of beneficial new products, such as new toothpastes, etc., which contribute so much to the reduction of dental decay.
§ Lord Somers
My Lords, I was told—with what truth I do not know—that the percentage of experiments that are carried out for cosmetic productions is only about 1 per cent.
§ Lord Glenarthur
It is in fact less than that, my Lords. It is only a half of 1 per cent. of the total number of animal experiments.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, for giving notice of this point. He raised a question on Clause 4(4) about the age of those who would have a personal licence—the age of 18. I meant to say my noble friend Lord Auckland; I apologise. The minimum age is 18, as he so rightly says. It is also the minimum age under the existing legislation. There are arrangements for licensees to be supervised where appropriate. I referred, indeed, to the question of the application of anaesthetics when I answered the point raised by my noble friend Lord Selkirk. But I think that the important point is that personal licences will be granted only where we are satisfied of the training, education and general suitability of the applicant. It is a question of ability and not just age.
The noble Lord also raised the question of unregistered companies. I can assure him that under this Bill, or indeed under the existing legislation, the licensing of the experimental work which requires this licensing will take no account of the status of the organisations involved. In other words, everybody falls within its ambit.
The noble Lord, Lord Somers, referred to the fact that the 1876 Act deals only with experimental animals. The general law on cruelty to animals—which we have no intention of repealing—is the Proection of Animals Act 1911. The guidance note (of which he will have a copy) refers to the number of animals. If he looks at paragraph 58(c) on page 21 I think he will find the answers he seeks. The Home Secretary will of course take account of the numbers involved.
My noble friend Lord Ferrier understandably and very rightly is concerned about violent anti- 1048 vivisectionists. I referred to them earlier. I think the criminal law is fully adequate. It was enacted by Parliament in the Criminal Damage Act 1971.I think that the problem is for the police to catch the perpetrators—and recently they have been succeeding very well. The subject, of course, is rather wide of the Bill, but I can assure my noble friend that every step that can be taken to stamp out this nuisance will in fact be taken. It is a matter that is taken very seriously indeed. I think that that to some extent covers a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Northfield.
One other distressing area which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, and which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, was the LD50 tests. I can simply add to what the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, said by saying that the trend away from formal LD50 tests is encouraging. We cannot simply prohibit it while it remains essential for some purposes—for example, the testing of some powerful anti-cancer drugs where the difference between the therapeutic dose and the fatal dose (the lethal dose) is very small indeed. However, we shall do all we can to encourage international regulatory bodies to continue their re-examination of the need for these tests and to ensure, through a system of project licensing, that alternative methods of toxicity testing are used whenever possible.
§ Lord Melchett
My Lords, I do not want to prolong what the noble Lord has to say, but I was recently told by a reputable pharmaceutical company that the LD50 test was not used by pharmaceutical companies at all any more. Therefore, I was surprised to hear the noble Lord give the example of anti-cancer drugs as an area where it was needed.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I visited a company the other day. I can only say, from my experience, that that company told me that the LD50 test hardly needed to be used at all. There are areas—such as the one which I have described—where it is apparently necessary, but the trend is very, very much away from it. I was greatly encouraged to hear that. Indeed, I heard it from two establishments which I have visited over the last few weeks.
My noble friend Lord Kimball expressed a welcome for the Bill and particularly a welcome on behalf of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. The noble Lord endorsed the important point that vets would become part of the management team. I am grateful for the noble Lord's words and I am sure that the parliamentary draftsman will also be grateful for his kind words of encouragement about the drafting of the Bill. The parliamentary draftsman does not always receive praise, so that is something from which I am sure he will take considerable gratification, even though the Bill may be changed mildly in due course.
I should like to stress to my noble friend Lord Massereene, who raised the question of curare or nerve blocking agents, that Clause 17 of the Bill refers particularly to this matter. There is no question of unrestricted use of neuromuscular blocking agents as an anaesthetic. Clause 17 contains the express prohibition of their use as a substitute for anaesthetics in this way.
1049 On the question of alternatives raised by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, I point out that, yes, we attach great importance to that matter. It appears in the guidance in paragraph 58(b)) on page 21, and we are sure that the guidance is the best place for this matter. However, the point which the noble Lord raises is a very important one indeed.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, raised a number of points, two of which I particularly noted. The noble Lord referred to Clause 5(4) of the Bill. Of course that is very much the heart of the Bill. The noble Lord asked whether or not the justifiability of experiments ought to be written into the Bill itself. Again, we come up very much against the.difficult area which was touched upon so graphically by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury. I think it is a matter which we might be able to take further in Committee, when I shall be able to explain the situation at greater length. The noble Lord also suggested a new name for the Animal Procedures Committee. I note with great interest the suggestion which he put forward and so I am sure will all those who have an interest in the Bill.
In conclusion, the second White Paper noted that one test of a civilised society is its treatment of 1050 animals. Our debate this evening has highlighted both the truth of that statement and the extent to which the ideal of a civilised and compassionate approach to all forms of life is represented in your Lordships' House. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, pointed out that I am the first Minister for over 100 years to have the good fortune to promote a Government Bill on this subject. It is indeed a privilege for me to have that responsibility, although I agree with the noble Lord and with the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, that it is to my honourable friend in another place that the real credit for drawing all the strands together really goes.
The Bill before us is designed to build upon a century or more of experience in balancing the needs of human society and those of animals. I believe that this is a worthwhile aim, and that the Bill offers an appropriate and sensible means of achieving it. T his debate has given it a good start.
On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the whole House.
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past eight o'clock.