HC Deb 07 July 2003 vol 408 c635W
Mr. Laurence Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to change the regulations on the use of animals in(a) scientific and (b) other experiments; and if he will make a statement. [123977]

Caroline Flint

Under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, the Home Office regulates the use of protected animals in any experimental or other scientific procedure that may have the effect of causing that animal pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm. The Home Office does not regulate the use of animals in experiments or procedures not covered by the 1986 Act.

The 1986 Act provides a strong regulatory framework and an effective means by which to balance the need to protect animals from unnecessary suffering with the legitimate requirements of the scientific community (and the public) for medical and other essential research and safety testing. The system set up under the 1986 Act has proved flexible and responsive to changing circumstances and requirements, and its enabling provisions allow changes to be made quickly and easily by administrative means, or using secondary legislation.

The Animal Procedures Committee (APC) review of the operation of the Act, published in its Annual Report for 1997, concluded that the Act provides a good framework for a well-regulated and responsible use of animals in scientific procedures in the United Kingdom. A number of recommendations arising from the APC review to enhance the effectiveness of the Act have subsequently been implemented and further improvements are continually being sought. The APC has also recently provided advice on the cost benefit assessment conducted under by section 5(4) of the 1986 Act, which we will consider carefully. Section 24 of the 1986 Act is also currently being reviewed. Proposals are also awaited from the European Commission for the revision of Directive 86/609/EEC, which the 1986 Act transposes into United Kingdom law. These may result in the need for the 1986 Act to be amended in due course. However, we have no immediate plans for legislative change.