HL Deb 11 March 1981 vol 418 cc375-6WA
Lord Houghton of Sowerby

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, and if so by whom and for what purpose, a certificate was granted to a psychology lecturer, Dr. Arnold Chamove, at Stirling University to conduct the experiments on stump-tailed macaque monkeys by subjecting them to conditions of simulated blindness for long periods as described in the Glasgow Herald of 23rd February 1981; what grants have been made by the Social Science Research Council for these experiments; whether activities of this kind are a justifiable form of public expenditure; whether these or similar experiments are still going on and, if so, whether the reported repudiation of these experiments by the Headmaster of the Royal Blind School Edinburgh will lead to their immediate discontinuance; and whether they will place a copy of Dr. Arnold Chamove's paper published in the American journal Visual Impairment and Blindness in the Library.

Baroness Young

The experiments referred to by the noble Lord have ceased. They were authorised by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 for the purpose of extending biological knowledge of the role of vision in relation to the development of behavioural patterns in animal and man. No grants to support these experiments have been made by the Social Science Research Council but in 1976 the Science Research Council awarded Dr. Chamove a three-year research grant. This grant was for fundamental research in the field of early primate development and the respective importance of different factors influencing behaviour. Results from earlier research of this type had contributed significantly to the understanding and care of developing children.

In making the award the council took into account the possibility that the project might yield results of clinical importance. The only other similar experiments of which I am aware are being conducted in the University Laboratory of Physiology at Oxford. These experiments involve the effects of deprivation and experience on the sensory systems; neural correlates of human developmental disorders of vision; performance of the visual system in awake, behaviourally-trained primates; oculomotor and accommodative control in the primate; and the study of sensory integration in animals and man. As requested by the noble Lord, I have placed in the Library a copy of the paper referred to.