§ Angela Eagle
Some 40 per cent. of regulated scientific procedures using live animals in Great Britain are conducted in universities and medical schools. They form part of a wide range of programmes of fundamental and applied medical research.
All such procedures in the United Kingdom are regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Act provides for a three-tier licensing system covering the establishments concerned, the research programmes undertaken, and the individuals carrying out the work.
Under the Act the procedures can be licensed for only a limited number of permitted purposes, and then only if there is no alternative to the use of animals. Moreover, use of animals will not be permitted unless the benefits of the proposed research are deemed to outweigh the welfare costs to the animals. The number of animals then used, and the suffering they are caused, must be minimised. This reflects the application of the "three Rs" in relation to animal experimentation; replacing the use of animals with alternative methods, reducing the number of animals needed for a particular purpose and refining the procedures to minimise suffering.
The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate assesses all licence applications and monitors compliance with licence authorities to ensure appropriate standards of animal welfare. Required minimum standards for the housing and care of the animals are set out in detail in published codes of practice.