HC Deb 11 March 1991 vol 187 cc333-4W
Mr. Ron Davies

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many animals, by species, were killed during the last year for which details are available specifically for the provision of cell or tissue material for research or experimental purposes.

Mrs. Rumbold

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 controls scientific procedures only on living animals and no statistics are collected of animals killed by the exempted methods set out in schedule 1 to the 1986 Act for in vitro work.

Mr. Dunnachie

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action his Department proposes in respect of those recommendations of the Medical Research Council inquiry team investigating the conduct of experiments on animals by Professor Wilhelm Feldberg at the National Institute for Medical Research laborato-ries, Mill Hill, London, which relate to the functions and decisions of the Home Department; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Rumbold

The Home Office accepts the Medical Research Council inquiry report's finding that, as a result of a failure by Professor Feldberg and Mr. Stean to maintain anaesthesia of sufficient depth, up to four rabbits were caused avoidable suffering.

Primary responsibility for ensuring that procedures regulated by the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 are carried out properly at an establishment lies with the holder of the certificate of designation. In the light of the report, officials have discussed with the certificate holder for the National Institute for Medical Research proposals for improving the management, control and monitoring of animals procedures at the institute, which he is now considering. We have also asked the MRC for the evidence of the alleged deliberate breaches of the Act referred to in the report.

As for the two recommendations contained in the report relating to the Home Office, initial proposals have been put to the Animal Procedures Committee about the position of aging licensees and we shall consider what action may be necessary when the committee has completed its consideration of the issues arising from this case.

We do not accept the recommendation in the report for an increase in the number of animal (scientific procedures) inspectors. Although the report suggests that inspectors should be more closely involved in monitoring the treatment of animals during experiments, this is principally the responsibility of personal licensees, who have a duty under the law for the care of their animals. It would be impractical to expect inspectors to be present whenever animal procedures are carried out.

Mr. Ron Davies

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what is the estimate of the number of wild-caught primates, by species, currently held in British scientific institutions for the purposes of experimentation;

(2) how many wild-caught primates were used in the United Kingdom in each of the last three years for experimental purposes.

Mrs. Rumbold

Statistics about the origin of primates held or used are not kept centrally. In general, smaller primates, like marmosets, are bred in captivity. Primates larger than rhesus or cynomolgous monkeys are difficult to breed successfully in captivity, even abroad.