HL Deb 05 June 1981 vol 420 cc1509-10WA
Lord Houghton of Sowerby

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make a statement on the progress made on the final draft of the proposed convention of the Council of Europe on animal experiments at the meeting at Strasbourg on 11th to 15th May.

Lord Belstead

Thead hoc Committee of Experts on the Protection of Animals, under United Kingdom chairmanship, completed its consideration of the full text of the draft convention for the protection of vertebrate animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. This included the articles concerning the circumstances in which an experimental or other scientific procedure should be terminated because of the suffering to the animal involved (Article 8 ter), the circumstances in which an animal may be used more than once, the performance of procedures in the course of education and training and the provision of statistical information.

The United Kingdom formally reserved its position on the revised version of Article 8 ter, otherwise supported by every other delegation, which would allow an animal to be subjected to severe and continuing pain where it was judged exceptionally necessary in the pursuit of human or animal health, or scientific problems. The existing United Kingdom controls do not permit such a waiver of the relevant safeguards and the Government will need to consider most carefully the implications of accepting this article.

The West German delegation formally reserved its position on an amendment—which would allow an animal, which had already undergone severe or continuing pain, to be subjected to a further procedure which would either dispense with anaesthetic or allow the animal to survive the procedure or both—on the ground that this would be inhumane. The United Kingdom will also need to consider most carefully whether it could accept such a change here, however strong the case for doing so where certain rare and expensive animals are involved.

To enable these Governments to consider their response to the changes in these key parts of the draft convention, and to allow any delegations that wish to do so to make fresh observations on any other part of the draft, the ad hoc committee will meet again in January 1982. The committee will then also have before it the advice of two smaller working groups on two important but detailed ancillary documents: the draft appendix on the recommended standards of care and accommodation of animals covered by the convention, and the draft explanatory memorandum to the convention itself.