HL Deb 12 May 1983 vol 442 cc698-9WA
Lord Houghton of Sowerby

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are their proposals for new legislation on scientific procedures on living animals; and whether they will make a statement.

Lord Elton

In a White Paper published today my right honourable friend the Home Secretary proposes new legislation to control scientific experiments on living animals. This legislation, which will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time permits, will repeal the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act and bring in completely new controls. We believe that the measures proposed will greatly strengthen protection for animals without unduly prejudicing the undoubted benefits to humanity of the necessary minimum of animal procedures.

The main changes proposed will be as follows. Controls are to be imposed on a wider range of procedures involving animals in laboratories. For the first time suppliers of animals for use in laboratories will have to be registered. Animals commonly used for experimentation will have to be obtained from these registered suppliers. All aspects of the regulation of accommodation and care of animals in laboratories will be put on a statutory basis.

A new system of licensing for all projects is proposed to ensure that suffering is kept to an irreducible minimum, and that reliable alternative methods not involving animals are used whenever practicable. Particularly stringent controls will apply to all applications for project licences to test cosmetics on animals.

A new statutory committee, the Animals Procedures Committee, is to be established, and will have wide powers to advise on any matters which the Home Secretary refers to it as giving rise to special concern. For example, all applications to test cosmetics on animals will be referred to this committee.

The Home Office Inspectorate will be strengthened and will have new and enhanced duties in operating the new controls.

The White Paper is based on a wide range of representations we have received, especially on the recommendations of my right honourable friend's Advisory Committee on Animal Experiments, and on the draft Council of Europe Convention for the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. My right honourable friend is proposing stricter controls than the minimum the convention would permit, particularly in refusing to allow any exception to the prohibition on the infliction upon animals of pain which is both severe and enduring.