HC Deb 03 December 1984 vol 69 c47W
Mr. Boyes

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many animals have been used in cyanide poisoning experiments at Porton Down; and if the animals were anaesthetised.

Mr. Lee

I refer the hon. Member to my reply on 22 March to my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) at columns570–72 in which I explained that the disclosure of detailed information about animal usage could in many cases be detrimental to national security. I am, therefore, unable to give the information requested in the first part of the question.

Experiments have been undertaken to improve understanding of the toxiology of cyanide poisoning and with a view to improving treament. Such experiments would not normally be conducted under anaesthesia as the use of anaesthetics would vitiate the purpose of the experiments.

All experiments involving the use of live animals at the chemical defence establishment, Porton Down, comply fully with the requirements of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, including the requirement to obtain a supplementary certificate for the performance of experiments without anaesthesia. If on any occasion an animal were found to be suffering severe pain which was likely to endure, it would at once be painlessly killed.