HL Deb 11 November 1987 vol 489 cc1449-61

8.31 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what support and funding they are giving to researches into alternatives to the use of animals in laboratories as a step towards the fulfilment of the aims of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am very glad to see the noble Earl making his debut on the question of animal welfare. I much admired his father for his work on behalf of badgers. He laid the foundations of the high status accorded to badgers in our wildlife, which has risen considerably since the original Act of 1973 was passed.

When I am asked why I work in Parliament for the welfare of animals I answer that it is because there is such sparse representation on behalf of animals either in this Chamber or in the other place, and when I entered your Lordships' House in 1974 I resolved to do something about it. I looked for an ally and found one in the late Lord Platt, who was a former President of the Royal College of Physicians. He had a great deal of expert knowledge on the subject and was willing to form an alliance with a new, politically-minded Peer. In that way the foundations of the 1986 Act were laid. The basis for reform was a joint memorandum prepared by Lord Platt and myself. It took 10 years, which is a long time, before the Act of 1986 was finally passed, and no one will deny that it represents an historic reform in the treatment of animals in laboratories. However, many people are still sceptical about the value of that Act. They intend to look very critically indeed at its implementation and will be watching for tangible signs of progress. I shall refer to that matter a little later.

The 1986 Act tried to fulfil two aims. It aimed, first, to reduce the pain and suffering of animals used in laboratories by exercising more rigorous control of licensing; and, secondly, to reduce the numbers of such animals by promoting the pursuit of alternatives to the level of public policy. If any slogan on this subject is to be heard during the next four years it will be, "Get the numbers down".

In fact that will be the only test that the public can apply on whether the 1986 Act is successful. However, part of the Act introduces a condition for the granting of project licences to those who want to use animals. The Act requires that before a licence can be granted they have fully to consider alternative methods which do not involve live animals. It reminds all users who go to the Home Office for permission to use animals of the need to consider alternatives.

The Question on the Order Paper really consists of a series of questions. I want to explore the progress that has been made on replacements and I want to inquire about the Minister's views on that front. There is both light and shade in this matter. The light is that numbers have been falling steadily for 10 years. The Home Secretary has proudly proclaimed that the total number of animals used in 1986 was the lowest for 30 years, which it was. That news is encouraging and welcomed. We should commend all those who have contributed to that downward trend in numbers, which are half what they were 10 years ago. Nevertheless the total is still over 3 million, which is quite a lot of animals.

I believe that efforts toward further reductions should now be targeted on the areas of largest use. To begin with, the sector which takes the highest toll of animal life happens to be what the classification describes as, the study, use and development of medical, dental and veterinary procedures and appliances".

That category absorbs 1.5 million animals a year, mostly in the commercial sector and mostly for testing products of different kinds. Within the total of 1.5 million in that sector, 360,000 were used for the study of toxicity and metabolism. That is a large and painful area. The testing of poisons is very unpleasant and in the field of product testing there is very little room for the use of anaesthetics.

Another large proportion of all animals used—one fifth of the total, half a million in all—are put on test in order to comply with Acts of Parliament; namely the medicines Acts, agricultural poisons Acts and similar statutory requirements for the testing of products which pass through our laboratories.

I turn to the sensitive field of cosmetics and toilet preparations. A small proportion—and it will be emphasised how small it is, although it comprised 15,700 animals in 1986—was used on the testing of cosmetics and toilet preparations. Another very sensitive area concerns eye irritancy and the use of rabbits to find out whether shampoos, eyeshadow and other beauty preparations or adornments produce conjunctivitis and other irritant eye conditions. That represents 7,000 rabbits—quite a lot of rabbits to go through such a process. However, the number of animals used for both cosmetic and eye irritancy use is down on 1985. Another sensitive species is dogs, which accounted for a total of 13,000. There are many animals, among them rats and mice, which can suffer a good deal of pain and discomfort. That is the present picture.

There are a few other details, on which I will not take the time of the House. For some reason throughout the 1876 Act dogs and horses had precedence over primates in accordance with public sentiment. However, primates are much nearer to our own species than dogs and horses, which are of course the friends of man. Man did not know whether the primate was a friend or foe because most men had never seen one. That is the light, and let us admit that it is shining through. I think that there is hope there.

What then is depressing? It is depressing that lately we have not seen enough evidence of the pressure to find alternatives. To some extent I think that finding alternatives has been a leisurely pursuit; the law did not require it. Licence applicants were not required to consider alternatives. Now alternatives are a priority in the administration of the Act. I recognise that it is early days. The Act began its operation only at the beginning of this year. It will take three or four years to turn the old regime over to the new and for licences that are expiring and seeking renewal to go through the new machinery. It is in the lifetime of this Parliament that in my judgment there will be the real test of the success of the 1986 Act; if it does not succeed there will be a good deal of discontent.

A good deal of popular concern about the matter is quiescent. It is thought that, with a new Act of Parliament, things will be different or at least people will wait to see whether they are. I realise that I am too old to frighten anybody with a threat of trouble in 1992 so I will not make a threat; I will make a prediction. If by the time of the next general election there are no distinct signs that the new Act is working, I am sure that the parliamentary candidates and those seeking renewal of government power will encounter a good deal of criticism of their work in this field.

What are the signs and portents? What have we to guide us through an assessment of the prospects of adequate research? There is not much, and that is why I ask the question. It is very difficult to find out. There was a programme on Channel 4 on 30th October called "The Mouse's Tale". The review article in the New Scientist said: The programme, in its concern to show the mistakes of past research, has missed an opportunity to make a much stronger political point. Everyone pays lip-service to the need for alternatives to animal experiments. But only an enormous research effort will create models that really work—providing better safeguards for people, and releasing animals from the laboratories. Industry and government both say the other should fund such research. To my mind, we are a long way off 'bringing the mouse's tale to an end"'.

That I think is a little depressing. I can offer little information and that is why I want to know.

I ask these few questions. Can the Minister say what work is in progress in research into alternatives at present? Is there any central point where information over the whole field of laboratory activity can be known? How is the work to be coordinated and expanded for the provisions of the Act to be more speedily achieved? What sort of funds will be available? Who is to find them?

I met a man today occupying a high position in Unilever who said, "If you get about four people together who I am prepared to name and see what they combined are prepared to do by way of searching for alternatives, you might make more progress that way than any other". I know some of the people to whom he was probably referring. The work that ICI is doing, for example, is very great and it is spending a lot of money on it. It has halved the number of animals in recent years. Elida Gibb is another, and there are other big users of animals. The numbers of animals could be reduced dramatically and probably quickly.

I am bound to raise the position of a charity named FRAME, the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments. For years now it has been the focal point of a good deal of research into alternatives. Its sole object and purpose has been to find replacements for the animals with no campaigning and no bias one way or the other. "Let's get animals out of the laboratories and put in alternatives"—that has been its mission and remains So.

In 1984, when FRAME and the Committee for the Reform of Animal Experiments, of which I am chairman, combined to help the Government draw up and get through the legislation of 1986, FRAME was offered a government grant of over £200,000 spread over three years to begin some fresh area of research, particularly in the co-ordination of work not yet undertaken by some of the larger users, and so help find the answer to testing toxicity, which is the most tiresome of all the product testing. That grant has run out and the question arises whether it has a role to play now. What will happen to marshal the work? What will be the role of the Animal Procedures Committee? In short, how is research to be organised, co-ordinated and funded, and how can it be made more effective?

That is possibly enough to put to the Minister, and I hope that he has a reply ready. I have done my best to acquaint all concerned with the range of my inquisitiveness, which, I am bound to say, has grown as I have been on my feet.

The Government must not let the public down, a public which has had to take so much and trust so much in the effectiveness of the 1986 Act. There were those noble Lords who took a moderate position and collaborated with the Government to use their influence not only in regard to animal societies but in Parliament to get the Bill through both Houses without disrupting the Government's legislative programme for 1986. That was really a political deliverance to a Government who had given a pledge in 1979 that they would do it and had not then done it in 1986.

It is very important that the Government should regard the fulfilment of the purpose of the Act as one of the prime aims of a Conservative Government. If they leave office it will be an inheritance to their successors to carry it on and improve it to the best possible extent.

8.51 p.m.

Earl Bathurst

My Lords, we have a thinnish House and it is a fairly late hour. As one totally on the other side to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, I wish to congratulate him on bringing up this very difficult, interesting and delicate subject tonight. The only reason that I am speaking is that, along with the noble Earl who will be replying, I have had some small experience of this difficult problem in the Home Office.

We must make animals suffer in order that experiments can come right for ourselves. Perhaps that is right, perhaps it is wrong. I do not know. But whatever else may happen animals must be looked to and looked after in the correct manner and under the ways and the means that are laid down by Home Office procedures.

The noble Lord talked about effectiveness. We are really discussing the effectiveness of the procedures. I wish to ask the noble Earl who will be replying and the noble Lord who put down this Question to think about the circuses of way back. There was and still is great trouble about performing animals and what goes on in circuses. Bertram Mills' Circus has long since gone out. However, it used to offer every Member of Parliament of both Houses some sort of a card if they wrote and asked for one. They were not plastic cards in those days as they had not yet been invented. Wherever there was a Bertram Mills establishment, be it circus, training area or whatever, a Member of Parliament could enter day or night with the card and be shown around. They were also made welcome when they looked at how the animals were treated and what went on.

Could not the Member of Parliament within whose constituency that licensed establishment lay have a card to go in as and when he wished? That privilege could not be extended to all Members of the House of Commons but it could be extended to those Members in whose constituencies there were such establishments. Possibly it could be extended to Members of your Lordships' House who are concerned with these matters. We would have to write to the establishments and perhaps noble Lords would receive a card such as Bertram Mills used to give out which would enable them to enter any licensed establishment where scientific experiments were carried out.

That system used to work extremely well but as far as I know I was the only Member of Parliament who ever took advantage of the Bertram Mills offer. Perhaps others also did that but I was told by Mr. Bertram Mills that I was the only one who had ever gone. However, there is no reason why Members of Parliament, if they wish, should not have access to licensed establishments to see how the animals are looked after and to establish the reasons for the experiments that take place.

There should he Members of Parliament who are interested in the subject. It would not be possible to allow all Members of Parliament to enter those premises but I suggest that Members of your Lordships' House and the constituency Member concerned should have that right. They should have the right to view the conditions in which the animals are kept, their treatment and the reasons for the experiments to which they are subjected. If they have reason to think that things are not as they should be there would be ways and means to complain to the Home Office or the authorities concerned.

There is much concern among the general public as regards these experiments. I agree that many of the experiments are of no consequence at all, but equally, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, said, many of them are of big consequence to the general public. Her Majesty's Government and the Minister should be finding some way or some means to determine whether those experiments are absolutely necessary and that, above all, the animals concerned are treated in the proper way and in the manner that is required under the regulations. The regulations exist but there is only a given number of inspectors for a given number of cases and a given number of experiments. It should be possible for the Member of Parliament of the area concerned and for all Members of your Lordships' House-there are about three of us here tonight—to write to apply for such a certificate or such a pass to see the experiments at any time of the day or the night, as and when they wish, without previous warning being given. That was exactly how the Bertram Mills Circus arranged its affairs for us all.

8.58 p.m.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby has made it abundantly clear in his excellent introduction that the subject of his Unstarred Question is of very great importance and urgency. He has made it clear that the replacement of animals in medical and scientific research is an issue which people in this country regard as important. Those of us in the House are very grateful to my noble friend for having brought this matter up, as also are many people outside the House, who will be pleased to see the point being discussed this evening.

There is little doubt that all of us who took part in the debates on the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill last year were impressed by and admired the efforts made by the Government to transform the whole apparatus and control of the use of live animals in laboratories in Great Britain. Indeed, many animal welfare societies were also very supportive of the Bill and relieved to see machinery set up for greatly increased protection for laboratory animals, which was the major objective of the Bill.

As my noble friend said, the Act became operative from 1st January 1987. It is too early for any detailed monitoring of the working of the Act to be carried out. However, I have been asked to bring up one point which has given concern and which has been brought to my attention by the RSPCA. It involves an area of the Act which appears not to have been put into effect. Why have the Government not appointed the full complement of Home Office inspectors when the administration of the Act necessitates an increased workload for them? I understand that at present there are only 18 inspectors appointed; the Act states that there should be 21. I have not given the noble Earl notice of my question. Perhaps he can let me have an answer at some point.

I accept that that comes rather outside my noble friend's Unstarred Question, which concerns the major aim of the Act and the part of it which is of greatest concern to the public; that is, the replacement of animals in medical and scientific research. He said that so far there has not been a concerted effort to achieve that aim and has made serious suggestions as to how it can be accelerated. At this late hour I shall not go over the points which my noble friend made. However, I should like to make one or two brief additional points.

First, I wish to mention the extent of public interest in the issue. The people of this country feel strongly about the use of animals in scientific research. The only thing which will content them is to see a steady reduction in the number of animals used. For them, that will be the measuring stick of the success of the Act.

It is important to recognise that there is a growing number of young people in this country whose interest in politics is minimal. Their interest is focused on environmental and ecological issues; they are less interested in economic and social aspects. That means that they are taken up with health issues and an interest in animals and animal rights. For those young people it is difficult to understand why there should be any animal experimentation in cosmetics. Although they are interested in the whole subject, they may not be interested enough to know of the variations in cosmetics. Nevertheless, there is a growing group of people whose interests have moved from old-style politics to the issues concerned with the environment, ecology and animals. It is therefore of great importance for the Government to accelerate measures put into the Act for the satisfaction of that growing number of people.

The objective is to see the number of animals used in experiments reduced. That is especially true of cats, dogs, primates and other very sensitive species. It is important for the Government to give encouragement to alternative methods of research and to show that it is not cost which dominates their thinking. For example, I understand that in the development of monoclonal antibodies methods have been discovered which mean that fewer mice need to be given tumours. If the Government are seen to look to cost as the ultimate arbiter, then confidence will diminish in their genuine resolve to bring down the number of animals used in scientific experiments.

Finally, what is being done to bring together and accelerate the work going on at present and to encourage more work to be undertaken? How is the necessary co-ordination, impetus and financial support to be found? My noble friend has made pertinent suggestions to the Minister as to how that can best be done. He has made it quite clear that there is no time to lose. The Act is already on trial and it will be judged by its achievements or otherwise in the continued steady reduction of animal usage during the life of this Parliament. That is the criteria which will be applied by the public. If they are not convinced, animal experiments will be an issue in the next general election and it will be an issue of greater force, bitterness and determination than ever.

My noble friend wishes to take the issue out of the hands of the militant animal rights organisations, which do so much harm to the cause and to animals themselves. He has pointed out that the Government have a limited time to show the results that the general public will insist on. He has made it clear that what is necessary is resolve, organisation and funding.

9.5 p.m.

The Earl of Arran

My Lords, I must confess to some trepidation in addressing your Lordships' House this evening. I hasten to mention that this is not because of any deficiencies in the Government's position on the issue in question. On the contrary, we have a good story to tell, which I shall shortly unfold. My trepidation arises from having to talk on a subject—the welfare of animals—on which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, has a fund of experience and wisdom which is quite unique. On the more personal note, however, I am proud of my paternal credentials so far as animals are concerned, for, as some of your Lordships will remember, it was my father who was responsible for putting on the statute book the Badgers Act of 1973, which sought to protect those delightful creatures. It was kind and thoughtful of the noble Lord to mention that.

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton is of course a long-standing and indefatigable campaigner for the improvement of animal welfare in all its aspects. The fact that he has raised the particular matter which is the subject of this evening's debate, and his speech on the subject, are both ample confirmation of his expertise. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for ensuring that we are never allowed to forget our responsibility to make sure that there is adequate and proper provision under the law to safeguard the wellbeing of animals.

The use of live animals is unfortunately necessary for some medical and biological research and for essential safety testing. Past work has made a great contribution to safeguarding the health and welfare of people and animals. For example, without animal research it is unlikely that we should now be able to treat diabetes with insulin or vaccinate against terrible diseases such as polio and diphtheria. There is still much to he done in the development of medical treatment, in extending our understanding of the workings of the body and in ensuring the safety of new substances and products. Although great progress has been made in the development of alternatives, there are many procedures and types of research for which living animals are still indispensable.

However, as we all know, the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, is particularly closely associated with the recent legislation which has reformed the system of control over medical and scientific experimentation on living animals. He spent many years in persuasive and articulate advocacy of the need for reform of the system of control established under the previous legislation, the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. Under the able leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, the Committee for the Reform of Animal Experimentation was closely involved in the discussions which eventually resulted in the proposals for a new system of control over animal experimentation now established under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. This Act was introduced in your Lordships' House.

The Question which we are this evening considering goes to the heart of the new Act. It concerns alternatives to the use of living animals in research. A principal purpose of the Act is to provide a system of licensing control which ensures that only where the use of living animals is necessary and unavoidable will such use be permitted. This central philosophy is spelt out very clearly in Section 5(5) of the Act, which states: The Secretary of State shall not grant a project licence unless he is satisfied that the applicant has given adequate consideration to the feasibility of achieving the purpose of the programme to be specified in the licence by means not involving the use of protected animals". The concept of alternatives has other, equally important elements. I have already mentioned the desire to replace the use of whole living animals by use of non-living material or by techniques such as tissue culture. But there is also the considerable effort made to reduce the numbers of animals used to the absolute minimum necessary, where the use of living animals cannot he avoided altogether. And there is the constant search for methods to achieve the refinement of experimental procedures so as to minimise any suffering which might be experienced by those animals involved.

These, then, are the main aspects of the quest for alternatives: replacement, reduction and refinement, the so-called "Three Rs". The new system of control is designed to maximise the use of alternatives. In particular, very detailed scrutiny is given to all proposals for projects of work involving the use of living animals. A project licence authorising the work will only be granted after the most painstaking examination of the proposals, including close attention given to the scope for replacement, reduction and refinement.

I have to say that this attention to the question of alternatives is not something entirely new. For a long time the Cruelty to Animals Inspectorate provided my right honourable friend the Home Secretary with invaluable expert advice on applications for work to be carried out under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. The new Act therefore builds upon a rich legacy of experience. Now, in particular, the project licensing system which it has introduced enables the examination of the scope for alternatives to be informed by a much more detailed knowledge of the precise nature of the work proposed. I am sure that with the application and expertise of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate, together with the continuing wholehearted co-operation of licensees and applicants, we shall be able to make great progress in the principal aim of the new legislation. That is of course to keep to the absolute minimum necessary the use of living animals in experimental and other scientific research and to minimise the suffering of any animal so used.

In 1984 the Government agreed to provide some financial assistance to two organisations with considerable expertise in this field: the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW). To date, the Government have given £185,000 to FRAME and £30,000 to UFAW. The money given to FRAME is to help with three projects: a feasibility study of validation of in vitro techniques which might replace animal experiments; work on a possible database of tissue culture techniques; and an examination of the use of human tissue cultures instead of animals in medical research and toxicity testing. The money given to UFAW has supported an evaluation of the effects of various cage sizes and social groupings on the wellbeing of laboratory rats.

When we made our decision in 1984 to provide assistance for research in this field it was the first time that the Home Office had intervened in this way. Since then, we have become more than ever convinced of the need for, and importance of, well thought out and conducted research into ways of reducing animal usage and suffering in necessary experimentation.

It is not my right honourable friend's intention to seek to become a major source of finance and proposals for research in the bioligical sciences. That is the task of the highly skilled funding bodies such as the Medical Research Council, and for decision by individual commercial organisations. Nonetheless, we believe that there would be benefit in my right honourable friend having the resources available each year to assist a number of selected pieces of research in the general area of alternatives. My right honourable friend has therefore sought to have available for this purpose, from the financial year 1988–89 onwards, funds of the order of £100,000 per annum.

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, has rightly emphasised the need for research in this area to be properly co-ordinated and assessed and so too has the noble Baroness, Lady Ewart-Biggs. I can assure the House that we entirely share this concern. Clearly, we must ensure that we have full information on all the possibilities for worthwhile research into alternatives and that we obtain a critical, expert and impartial evaluation of all such proposals so that only the worthy projects receive support and we get the best possible value for money spent.

With these objectives in mind my right honourable friend has asked the Animal Procedures Committee, the statutory body established under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, to advise him on the priorities of research into alternatives and to assist him in the evaluation of proposals for work in this area. The Animal Procedures Committee has a most distinguished membership of scientific, medical and veterinary experts together with representatives of the moderate animal welfare movement and distinguished lay members. My right honourable friend greatly appreciates the hard work and expertise which the chairman and members contribute and the committee has already provided him with invaluable assistance on a number of matters.

The Animal Procedures Committee is in the process of considering what will be its advice to my right honourable friend on the question of funding research into alternatives. I do not anticipate what that advice will be or my right honourable friend's eventual decisions. However, I can say that the committee has established a research sub-committee to examine the possible areas of research which might be funded and the way in which details of research proposals might be obtained and evaluated, including perhaps reference to outside assessors with particular expertise in the specific types of work to be evaluated. Later this year the full committee will be examining the matter again in the light of the subcommittee's deliberations. It is therefore likely that my right honourable friend will be in a position to make some decisions on funding of research early in the new year.

I hope I have covered many of the points raised by speakers this evening, particularly those of the introducer of the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Houghton. However, I should like to answer some questions that he specifically raised. First, he asked about primates. I can tell him that the new Act now provides that the Secretary of State shall not grant a project licence authorising the use of cats, dogs or primates unless he is satisfied that animals of no other species are suitable for the purposes of the programme to be specified in the licence or that it is not practical to use animals of other species that are suitable for those purposes.

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, also raised the important question of cosmetics. I can tell the noble Lord that over 75 per cent. of cosmetic tests are carried out on human volunteers. Unfortunately, some tests still need to be carried out on animals. There is continual pressure to reduce them and to minimise their effects on animals. The pressure for alternatives to the use of live animals will continue and all applications for work on cosmetics are now examined by the Animal Procedures Committee. This additional scrutiny makes it even more difficult for unjustifiable work to slip through.

My noble friend Lord Bathurst raised the point of comparison with circuses. Statutory powers of entry are a considerable infringement of personal privacy and are only given to public officials when they have a specific enforcement role in relation to the legislation in question. The Home Office inspectorate has a duty, not a power, to inspect laboratories and breeding and supplying establishments under the new Act. Many laboratories admit other bona fide visitors from time to time. That is entirely for them to decide. There can be no question of giving MPs or Members of this House, RSPCA inspectors or other private individuals who are not responsible for enforcing the law a statutory right of entry into laboratories.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ewart-Biggs, rightly reiterated the public concern that there is about the use of animals for experimentation. On these Benches, we share the same values and have the same anxiety over that. She also asked about the number of inspectors. I understand that there are now 20 inspectors. Two vacancies have recently been filled. One recent unexpected retirement is the only reason that there are not 21.

Much work is being done both in this country and abroad to develop alternative methods of research which do not involve the use of live animals. Commercial companies, as well as academic and charitable bodies, are now devoting considerable resources to this effort. However, although techniques such as cell culture and isolated organs have many valuable uses, their capacity to replace the use of the whole live animal in many areas is limited at present. Both the development and validation of new alternative techniques takes a considerable time, but we attach great importance to the efforts to find ways of reducing the use of live animals in research. This is reflected in the previous research grants to FRAME and UFAW and the new research budget.

We took the unprecedented step of making some grants of money on an ad hoc basis some three years ago. Now we propose to go much further—to increase the sums available and to establish the support of research into alternatives as a continuing feature of the Government's involvement with animal experimentation. There will need to be a continuing, highly critical examination of research proposals and in due course of the outcome and success of research for which we have provided assistance. I know that the Animal Procedures Committee and the wider scientific community will play an important and helpful part in this. We have a most worthwhile and humane goal—the minimisation of animal usage and suffering—and we are sure that research, allied to the strict controls in the 1986 Act, will be a vital element in achieving this.

Earl Bathurst

My Lords, will the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, allow me to speak again? The noble Lord who is sitting on the Woolsack commissioned me to look at such places—

Lord Denham

My Lords, I hope that my noble friend will give way. This is an Unstarred Question and therefore when my noble friend has answered, that is the end of business. I hope that my noble friend will agree.

Earl Bathurst

My Lords, I do not accept what the noble Lord has been so kind as to say—

Lord Denham

My Lords, my noble friend is out of order.

Earl Bathurst


Lord Denham

My noble friend has answered this Question and that is therefore the end of the debate. There can he no more debate on it.