HC Deb 15 December 1997 vol 303 cc11-2W
Mr. Flight

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to reduce the number of experiments on animals. [20137]

Mr. George Howarth

We announced on 6 November that we had secured an end to the testing of finished cosmetic products; that we will be exploring a ban on the use of animals for testing ingredients intended for "vanity" products; and that we will be phasing out the use of ascitic animals in monoclonal antibody production.

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 requires that the suffering of animals and the number of animals used in individual programmes of work be minimised. It does not provide a mechanism for guaranteeing a year-on-year reduction in the number of animals used. Reductions are best achieved by the development, validation and implementation of alternatives.

To this end, we are exploring ways to promote the development and greater use of alternatives. We are seeking advice from the Animal Procedures Committee, the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) and others about the establishment of a database on alternative methods. We have also increased the budget, which we make available to the Animal Procedures Committee to sponsor research on alternatives, from £182,000 in 1997–98 to £259,000 in 1998–99.

We are encouraging regulators both in the United Kingdom and through Europe to review the need to use animals in regulatory safety testing.

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