§ Mrs. Curtis-Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the independent research to find alternatives to animal products used in traditional medicine, with special reference to bile from Asiatic black bears. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth
My Department has commissioned research from Dr. Henry Lee, Head of Chinese Medicine Development at Middlesex University, to identify plant substitutes for four key animal species used in traditional medicine—Asiatic black bears, tigers, and white and black rhinos. The research, which is expected to report in early 2004, will identify the active chemical components of these animals, determine equivalent chemical substances from plant sources, and develop an appropriate strategy for introducing and encouraging the use of those plant alternatives. The total cost of this research is £135,472, towards which my Department is contributing £67,500. The remainder is being met by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).