HL Deb 03 February 1986 vol 470 cc895-906

2.59 p.m.

Read a third time.

Clause 10 [Conditions]:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Glenarthur) moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 8, line 9, leave out ("that no") and insert— (" (a) that no cat or dog shall be used under the licence unless it has been bred at and obtained from a designated breeding establishment; and (b) that no other").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that I may be brief. In the discussions in Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, raised the question of the source of dogs and cats used in experiments. He said that there was concern that stolen pet dogs and cats found their way into laboratory experiments. The proposed amendment to Clause 10 which he then suggested was too restrictive; it provided for measures to prevent the possibility of stolen pets being used, but it allowed the Secretary of State no possibility of providing an exemption from the controls where the particular circumstances warranted it.

At Report, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, returned to the matter, but this time with a proposed amendment that would have allowed the Secretary of State discretion to relax the requirement in individual cases. I said then that the Government had the utmost sympathy for his objective—as we always have—and that we would look closely at the drafting with a view to bringing forward an amendment.

The amendment I am now proposing is in fact identical to the amendment proposed on Report by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, except in one respect. It adds the words "and obtained from". So, unless an exception is allowed, the cat or dog must not only have been "bred at" a designated breeding establishment but also "obtained from" the designated breeding establishment. This is a further tightening up, which I believe gives effect to the noble Lord's intention.

I also want to repeat what I said in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. If an exception is allowed—and it can only be allowed in a small minority of cases and for convincing reasons—the applicant will have to demonstrate with as much certainty as is possible in any human situation that the animal is not a stolen pet. It will not be good enough for the applicant to say that he believes that in good faith. It is intolerable of course that stolen pets should be used in laboratories, or that the public should be led to believe that they will be used. My Lords, I beg to move.

Lord Melchett

My Lords, as the noble Lord said, I tabled an amendment about this subject at both Committee and Report stage. I am very grateful to the Government for bringing forward this amendment. As the Minister has indicated, it is an improvement on my amendment but is very close to it. I know that it will be warmly welcomed by many people, and in particular by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which, as the noble Lord knows, was most concerned about this matter. I thank the Government very much indeed.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

My Lords, I should like to add a word because I had my name down to the earlier amendment as well. I wish to thank the Minister very much indeed for having accepted the point and for bringing it forward, in the form of Amendment No. 1, in such an excellent way. I welcome it and I cannot wait to tell all the old ladies who take their dogs to the park where I take mine, who will also be delighted to hear about it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 19 [The Animal Procedures Committee]:

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 2: Page 12, line 21, leave out ("eleven") and insert ("twelve")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that it may be convenient to the House if I deal jointly with Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4.

Amendment No. 3: Page 12, line 22, after ("members") insert ("other than the chairman")

Amendment No. 4: Page 12, line 26, leave out ("the") and insert ("of those")

These three amendments are related, and together their effect is as follows. The first amendment alters Clause 19(2) so that the Animal Procedures Committee would comprise a chairman and at least 12, rather than 11 members. And the second and third amendments alter Clause 19(3) so that the chairman is no longer counted among the members for the purpose of determining the composition of the committee under Clause 19(3)(a) and Clause 19(3)(b). Clause 19(3)(a) would then require that of the members other than the chairman at least two-thirds must have the medical, veterinary or biological qualifications mentioned in Clause 19(4). And Clause 19(3)(b) would require that of the members other than the chairman, at least one must be a barrister, solicitor or advocate.

Noble Lords will recall that during our discussions at Report my noble friend Lord Selkirk suggested that Clause 19 should be amended to that effect, so as to emphasise the fact that the chairmen of the Animal Procedures Committee may with benefit be drawn from a wide range of backgrounds. I said at Report stage that I would consider the noble Earl's helpful suggestion. I have done so. I think that it is a good suggestion; it is one we should adopt, and these amendments are the result. I beg to move.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for bringing forward this amendment. I made a suggestion concerning Clause 19, perhaps rather improperly, without putting down an amendment. I believe that the proposed arrangement is a great improvement. I hope that the Home Office will find that it is more useful, because the qualities of a chairman are so different and so unique. They do not apply to everybody in any category. It means that the chairman does not need to be in any one of the three separate categories that are laid down in Clause 19. I hope and believe that that will be a useful change.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 3:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 4:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 21 [Guidance, codes of practice and statistics]:

Lord Airedale moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 14, line 5, and end insert— ("( ) In all criminal or civil proceedings any such code shall be admissible in evidence; and if any provision of such a code appears to the court conducting the proceedings to be relevant to any question arising in the proceedings, it shall be taken into account in determining that question.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment was moved on Report by my noble friend Lord Beaumont, and was withdrawn. It is a subject that comes before your Lordships for, I am sorry to say, a third time: at Committee stage, on Report, and now on Third Reading. It provides specifically that where codes of practice are relevant to an issue before the court—whether it be a criminal or civil court—then they shall be admissible evidence. That is an eminently reasonable position to take. I cannot believe that any judge, upon learning that codes of practice exist that are relevant to the issue before him, would not be anxious to consult those codes of practice.

The codes of practice can of course be of assistance to, or to the disadvantage of, either party to a dispute. On the one hand, it could be said to the defendant, "You knew about the codes of practice. You chose to disregard them. You must now take the consequences". On the other hand, the defendant or the accused person might say, "I scrupulously observed the codes of practice. What more can you expect me to have done?"

After the Committee stage, I received a letter from the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, in which he set out the reasons why he felt this amendment was not appropriate. I am bound to say that he was, I believe, being a little rash, because we do not know yet what the codes of practice will contain. They will not all be Home Office codes of practice; they may be other people's codes of practice that are adopted by the Home Office. Having stated that for what it is worth—and I am sorry to quote the Minister's words for a third time, but this is an important point—the noble Lord wrote: It is in any case unnecessary since there is nothing in the Bill which bars the admission of codes of practice as evidence in civil or criminal proceedings, and if they are relevant to an issue arising during proceedings they could be taken in evidence". That appears to be a statement of general principle. My complaint is this. Let us either accept that there is a general principle that codes of practice are admissible in evidence or let us have a specific clause in all the Bills to which it could apply.

It is no use having a specific clause in, for instance, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act to such effect and then leaving out such a clause in this Bill, when the general principle can apply in either case. All one does then is to confuse people, if one inserts only in selective cases a specific clause although there exists an underlying general principle. I do not mind terribly much which way it goes, but if we are to have specific clauses for heaven's sake let us have one in this Bill because it applies here. On the other hand, if we are to accept a general principle, well and good, but let us stop putting specific clauses to this effect into selected Bills. I beg to move.

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham

My Lords, the noble Lord the Minister said on Report that codes of practice might be relevant for an offence under the Protection of Animals Act. They might be relevant, but, after studying the words of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, during the debate on codes of practice, one wonders whether they have any legal relevance. He expressly said that a type of code under Clause 21(2) of this Bill is without legal significance. The noble Lord the Minister seemed to think that it would be sufficient punishment in such a case to revoke a licence or certificate, but one could think of situations where that is not sufficient. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment.

Lord Prys-Davies

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, has told your Lordships that the principle of this amendment has been discussed at Committee stage and on Report but that the noble Lord the Minister was not sympathetic. The trouble is that the principle contained in this amendment is, in fact, contained in most of the Acts of Parliament which authorise the issue of a code of practice. If that is so—and if I am wrong no doubt the Minister will correct me—why should not this Bill incorporate the common type of provision enabling the prosecution to rely on the codes of practice to the extent indicated in the amendment? Why should the courts have to rely on an assumption that the principle will apply?

If the Government are still opposed to the amendment—and I have not seen the letter which the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, received from the Minister—the Minister should spell out to the House in greater detail why it is inappropriate to incorporate the amendment. The principle has been a live issue in Committee, on Report and today. If the Minister is unable to see his way clear to accept this principle, I am fairly sure that it will be a live issue in another place.

Lord Melchett

My Lords, I put my name to an amendment to this effect on Report and I support this amendment today. The only explanation I can think of for the fact that these precise words crop up in some Acts of Parliament, including some passed last year, but not in others is that there is a disagreement between parliamentary draftsmen. If that is the case, it will be difficult to sort out the matter.

It would appear to me that from the point of view of the people who will be operating this legislation, as the noble Lord said, the codes of practice could be taken into account by the courts whether or not these words are in the Bill. If that is the case, and the noble Lord said that in his letter, surely it is sensible from the point of view of the people operating the legislation that that should be made clear in the Bill.

3.15 p.m.

Lord Somers

My Lords, it seems to me that an amendment of this kind is absolutely essential. It has been pointed out, and quite truly, that the code of practice has no legal significance; in other words, ignoring it does not in itself constitute an offence. On the other hand, the question arises: what does constitute an offence? Various courts may have different opinions on this subject. Surely a code of practice is a unifying guide to what is and what is not an offence.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

My Lords, I too should like to support this amendment. It has not only been discussed at three stages of the Bill but the principle has been discussed in a debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway. In that debate the Government were asked that there should be uniformity throughout statute law on codes of practice, so that the reader and the user of Acts of Parliament would know exactly where they stood in relation to any particular code of practice.

At the moment the statutory position in regard to codes of practice is, as I think that debate showed, highly unsatisfactory. It cannot be right that the form of words which the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, proposes to insert in this Bill should not be inserted whereas similar provisions are inserted in other Bills. It may well be that, despite what the noble Lord the Minister says, a court of law would say that the codes are not admissible as evidence because this form of words is not incorporated in the Act. We have the Minister's word for it, but without this form of words I do not think that we can be sure that in practice that is what will happen if a court of law has to consider whether a code of practice is, or is not, admissible.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, said, once again we confront this question of the use of codes of practice in evidence. At Report stage we had a very useful discussion on this matter arising from an amendment proposed, as he said, by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett. During that discussion the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, referred to the detailed debate on the subject of codes of practice initiated by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway. That debate had taken place on the preceding day, 15th January, and I said that I would examine this matter again in the light of that debate.

That debate provided a clear illustration of the variety of codes of practice and the variety of their relationships to the legislation under which they are issued. That is the nub of this matter. At Committee stage and at Report stage reference was made to codes of practice issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and the Food and Environment Protection Act. All of these Acts make provision for codes of practice, but that does not mean that the Bill which we are today considering should do so in identical terms.

There is a clear difference between the codes of practice issued under the Acts to which I have referred and the codes of practice which will be issued or approved under this Bill. In the former case, the codes of practice are directly linked with, or relevant to, offences contained in the main provisions of the Act. That is not the position in the case of codes of practice issued or approved under this Bill. The codes of practice which we shall issue or approve under this Bill will be a guide to good practice in the care and use of laboratory animals. They complement, but do not amplify, the other provisions of the Bill. The codes are most unlikely to be relevant, and therefore admissible in evidence, in relation to any offence created by the Bill.

I said in our earlier debates that if codes of practice are relevant to an issue arising during civil or criminal proceedings they could be taken in evidence, and that has just been repeated. We think that the most likely situation in which this may arise is in proceedings for causing unnecessary suffering to animals, under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, or the comparable Act of 1912 for Scotland. No specific provision is required for this.

May I say to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham that it is our intention that prosecutions should be brought against offenders under the 1911 Act in appropriate cases. We shall not rely alone on the power to revoke licences in the more serious cases.

In the light of the concern which has been expressed and reiterated today, and in the light of our further examination of what took place on 15th January, and notwithstanding the letter which I wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, we will consider sympathetically the idea of an amendment to the Bill in another place, along the lines suggested.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham also raised at an earlier stage, and certainly in correspondence, the question of publication of codes of practice. That concern was certainly raised at Report. Since it is an important and related point perhaps I may be permitted to say now that the omission of any reference to publication is in no sense a sign that we see the code of practice as in some way a secret document. I can assure your Lordships that nothing could be further from the truth. It is our intention to adopt the codes of practice which are now being prepared by the Royal Society and these will be printed and distributed for sale by the originators. A requirement on the Secretary of State to publish a code would obviously clash with this. However, I can assure your Lordships that were we to issue any other code of this sort we would make arrangements for it to be available for purchase.

I need hardly add that it would negate the purpose of the code if it were not available to the scientific community or to anybody else who wished to consider it. I can assure the House that we fully understand the concern that lies behind the amendment which we have been considering, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, will be satisfied that we take his proposal seriously and will try to meet it.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether I have understood him correctly? The code of practice will in fact be public information. I understand that he will not lay the code before Parliament but I take it that he will make it available to the Stationery Office. So that document is available, and while it cannot be used for a prosecution it could be used for relevant evidence in the course of a prosecution. Do I understand that correctly? If so, that seems to me to cover the major issue that we are discussing today.

Lord Glenarthur

Yes, my Lords, that is what I hope we shall be able to achieve; but what we have to look at clearly is precisely how we draft an amendment to meet the concern which has been expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. I think the concern of my noble friend will be met. The code will be laid before Parliament; Clause 21(4) refers to that. I hope that my noble friend is satisfied.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, rather like the Chancellor in his Budget speech, the noble Lord kept me in some suspense until toward the end of his speech. However, he then said some very reassuring words which enable me to withdraw this amendment, notwithstanding that every other noble Lord who has spoken has come down on my side in this issue. Of course the key word is "relevant", and the judge will look at the codes and will take notice of them only to the extent that they are relevant. If the noble Lord the Minister is right in saying that in most cases they will not be relevant then the judge will not need to trouble himself with them. However, I am much obliged for what the noble Lord the Minister has said and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 25 [Powers of entry]:

Lord Airedale moved Amendment No. 6: Page 15, line 31, after ("being") insert ("or may be").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is an amendment to the clause dealing with powers of entry and the position where a magistrate is satisfied on oath that an offence has been or is being committed and may therefore issue a warrant. This amendment seeks to nip in the bud offences which the magistrate is satisfied may be about to be committed. There is a precedent for this form of words in the famous Trades Descriptions Act, and the powers of entry under that Act, and no doubt there are numerous other precedents. I think we need to give the police power to persuade a magistrate that an offence is about to be committed and so have a chance to nip it in the bud. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, this amendment raises at Third Reading an issue which has not been considered before during our discussion on this Bill. I understand the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, to ensure that the provisions of the Bill concerning the issue of a search warrant should adequately cover all the circumstances in which the issue of a warrant might be appropriate. However, this is a technical matter and one which requires some quite detailed consideration. It has not been raised before, and I should therefore like to have the opportunity to examine it and come to a considered opinion. I shall then write to the noble Lord. I hope that this suggested course will be acceptable to him and that in the light of this he will see fit to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Airedale

Yes, my Lords. Again, I am very much obliged, and I am very willing to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 7: Page 15, line 32, leave out ("with or without an inspector appointed under this Act").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope it will be for the convenience of the House if I deal jointly with the two related amendments, Nos. 7 and 8.

Amendment No. 8: Page 15, line 35, at end insert— ("( ) A warrant under this section may authorise a constable to be accompanied by an inspector appointed under this Act and shall require him to be accompanied by such an inspector if the place in question is a designated establishment.").

These two amendments alter Clause 25, the clause which provides for the issue of search warrants authorising a constable to enter a place where an offence under the Bill is thought to be taking place or to have been committed. These amendments would alter the clause in the following way. Where the premises to be entered are an establishment designated under the Bill, then the police constable executing the warrant must be accompanied by an inspector, and where a non-designated establishment is to be entered the search warrant may authorise the constable to be accompanied by an inspector.

During the Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, drew attention to the potentially very serious hazards that a policeman might face if he forcibly entered a designated establishment on his own. A variety of infections might be released into the community as a result, or infection could be taken into the establishment, with possibly devastating effects on the animals and the work in hand. The noble Lord, Lord Adrian, raised this matter again at Report and I said that we fully recognised the importance of this potential problem and that we would bring forward at Third Reading an amendment which would have the effect of requiring the constable to be accompanied by an inspector during entry under warrant to designated establishments.

These two related amendments fulfil that commitment. As I said at Report, we envisage that the search warrant procedure will only rarely be used. But clearly when it is used we must ensure that the risks of misplaced infection or other difficulties are minimised. The presence of an inspector, who will be able to provide specialised scientific advice, is the best way of ensuring that. I beg to move.

Lord Adrian

My Lords, may I repeat the thanks that I expressed to the noble Lord the Minister at Report stage and say that the amendments as they stand now meet my points entirely.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, if the noble Lord the Minister cares to do a little tidying up at some stage, I would merely suggest that in the last but one line of Amendment No. 8 the phrase, to be accompanied by such an inspector could be improved by simply saying, "to be so accompanied".

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 8:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

An amendment (privilege) made.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved. That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Glenarthur.)

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My Lords, this is a good Bill. I have not the slightest doubt about that, and I wish to congratulate all those noble Lords who have contributed to bringing this Bill forward after many years of consideration and consultation. This Bill comes as close as could be to being a consensus. It represents the result of wide consultation and the bringing together of interests and forces in society which, in their day, proved almost irreconcilable but which of late have considered that co-operation is probably the better way of getting progress in this difficult subject.

There has been a good deal of compromise in it, as one would expect, but there have been no party politics. It is the fulfilment of a promise made by each of the three main political parties in the general election of 1979 that if any of them were elected to government they would take such action. It has fallen to the present Government to see it done.

3.30 p.m.

We have to thank the former Home Secretary, Mr. Brittan, and his Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Mr. David Mellor, for their persistence in getting this Bill in the Queen's Speech for this Session and in bringing it forward so early. I wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, for his courtesy and patience in carrying the Bill through for the Government. It has been done in a spirit of co-operation and goodwill. The only person to lose his temper was me, and I apologise. It was one of those genuine misunderstandings between officials, and it emerged in the course of our debates. I got roused; the noble Lord was perplexed—and I quite understand, because he knew nothing about it. He had not understood that a conference had taken place that morning with other Ministers and we had reached an understanding. I apologise for causing him that embarrassment. It all ended in a spirit of reconciliation, and I am glad to say that the subject of that dispute will not rear its head in the debate this afternoon.

The more I have listened to our debates the more certain I have been that this is a right approach to a difficult and complex matter. The aim has been to give the Home Secretary the power to control, and to impose upon him the responsibility of the controlling, all that is done to animals in our laboratories. In the past, Home Secretaries have not always welcomed the idea of having such responsibility placed upon them. But I am glad that it has been done, because only by the Home Secretary accepting that responsibility is this approach possible.

For the first time the Secretary of State will be responsible for making a judgment on the scientific merit of the work to be done. He will be obliged to weigh the likely adverse effect on the animals against the benefit likely to be gained from what it is proposed to do. It is that responsibility for the whole field of bio-medical science that Home Secretaries have naturally been reluctant to accept. But under this Bill it is imposed upon the Home Secretary.

Critics complain about the absence from the Bill of a schedule of prohibitions—a list of commandments, putting a stop to practices which are thought to be intolerable and should be abolished in our laboratories. A few examples are toxicity testing; the Draize test, which uses rabbits' eyes to test irritating substances; the testing of alleged trivialities such as cosmetics, household products and tobacco substitutes; and the much graver matter of the use of animals to test weapons. But in the course of our debates have we not seen the problems of dealing with the fine points of detail and the need for exceptions to the general rule in far too many cases? The use of statute law to control scientific and medical procedures is fraught with difficulties. That is why we have so much enabling legislation—codes of practice, statutory instruments and the rest—which is supplementary and subsidiary to the main statute law.

The charge is made that everything that is now done in laboratories can under the Bill still be done. I meet that charge by saying that although the Bill prohibits little, it controls everything. How that control is to be exercised is in the Bill; the criteria to be observed in permitting what is to be done are in the Bill, too. What is not prohibited by law under the Bill may nevertheless be curbed, curtailed or even stopped if the Home Secretary decides to use his powers under the Bill.

The Home Secretary is made the monarch of that province of the sovereign state of science. It will be for present and future Home Secretaries to make progress in the alleviation and prevention of pain and in reducing the use of living animals. It will be for Parliament to say what the public will not stand for, even for the benefit of man. There are professional men and women in this field who will be responsible for operating the legislation and who will be able to contribute to its success. There are professional men who, I think, will make all the difference with the goodwill that is now being put into the Bill.

But another question arises. How shall we know whether progress is being made and what difference the Bill is making to the use of animals—the number of them, their nature and the uses to which they are put? If your Lordships look carefully at the Bill you will see that the means of getting to know that are there, or, if they are not, they can be put there. I hope that that aspect will receive close consideration in another place.

The various animal welfare societies which were founded to campaign for a change in the law on the use of animals will find a new outlet for their activities. We want the voluntary bodies to come together to provide a responsible and vigilant oversight of and interest in what is being done. Nevertheless, I think that there are probably one or two ways in which we can give the assurances that some hesitant people are looking for in the Bill. I have one or two suggestions to make which I hope can be considered during the Bill's further stages.

The Bill is perhaps too neutral in its title and tone. Although the Long Title explains what it is about, the Short Title does not. This is a Bill for the protection of laboratory animals. It cannot be anything else. If that protection were not necessary, we should need no Bill at all. In many other countries, where there is no protection, there is no legislation whatsoever.

I remind the House also that when previous Bills designed for similar purposes have been introduced in this House and in another place, the protection of animals has been mentioned every time in the Short Title. The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, introduced a laboratory animals protection Bill that went through all its stages in your Lordships' House on two occasions. Mr. Fry, a Member of another place, introduced the Protection of Animals (Scientific Purposes) Bill which was given a Second Reading and debated in the House of Commons in the 1979–80 Session of Parliament. I think that attention should be given in the further stages of this Bill to changing its Short Title to "Laboratory Animals Protection Bill".

We have also debated one or two other matters which have not been satisfactorily concluded and which should receive further attention. The procedures committee appears not to have full initiative to begin investigations and inquiries into particular matters. Clause 20(1) suggests that only with the consent of the Home Secretary could it go forward on matters that it wishes to go into. I believe that there should be powers of investigation which the committee can exercise on its own responsibility, provided only, perhaps, that it does not incur undue expenditure in so doing.

Clause 24 contains, I believe, a serious misunderstanding about the conditions of confidentiality imposed upon members of the procedures committee. Some people seem to be under the impression that, if any member of the committee leaks anything that he sees or discovers in the course of his duties as a member of the committee, he may be prosecuted and sentenced to up to two years' imprisonment. We are becoming very familiar with the technique of leaks and things that happen to people who make them, together with all the other difficulties that one may get into through unauthorised disclosure. This looks rather as if members of the procedures committee are going to have a slice of the criminal law all of their own and sentences of imprisonment for breaches of it all of their own. I his, I am sure, is not what was intended. While confidentiality should be preserved, members of the procedures committee should have a little more freedom from the threat of prosecution than the Bill suggests.

We need a further termination condition in Clause 10(2)(b). We need also some relaxation of the condition that prosecutions under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 and the Scottish Act of 1912 can be undertaken against persons under this Bill only with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

These are some matters that would repay attention in order to reinforce the purpose of the Bill and to remove some of the doubts in the minds of those who wish to give it their goodwill but have reservations about some parts of it. If that happens, we shall have completed an important stage in the long and painful history of the use of animals for the benefit of man. I do not suppose that it is any good suggesting that the human species is not worth the pain and the plunder that it demands for its own selfish ends. Man has sanctified his life under religious encouragement to justify putting his own interest first. But how this doctrine will make human life worth living in the future is not yet clear. I conclude by saying that this Bill is but a small step towards acknowledging claims of other species upon the divine spirit that man has long regarded as being a blessing reserved for himself alone.

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