HL Deb 22 March 2001 vol 623 c176WA
Baroness Howells of St Davids

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to increase the size of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate. [HL1380]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton)

This has been under consideration for some time as a means of ensuring the efficient and effective implementation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which provides for the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. We are pleased to announce that the existing complement of 21 inspectors will be increased to 33 over the next three financial years.

The extra 12 inspectors will result in a substantial and unprecedented level of inspectorate staffing. This will lead to more inspections to ensure compliance with licence conditions and will enable applications for authorities under the 1986 Act to be dealt with more efficiently, without compromising the quality of advice offered by the inspectorate. Furthermore, the Home Office will be able to become more proactive in raising standards of animal care and welfare, and to play a greater role in developing and promoting strategies of "replacement, reduction and refinement".

The cost of the additional inspectors will in due course have to be reflected in licence fees paid by those conducting animal research.

We hope that the scientific community and animal welfare organisations, and the general public, will welcome this important announcement. It is a practical demonstration of the Government's commitment to ensure that, for as long as there is a need to use animals in scientific research, the legislation to protect them is applied to maximum effect.