§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the recommendation in the House of Lords report on Animals in Scientific Procedures for a Centre for the 3Rs, with particular regard to its projected(a) terms of reference and (b) budget. 
§ Caroline Flint
In its report published in July 2002, the House of Lords Select Committee on animals in scientific procedures recommended the establishment of a United Kingdom centre for research into the 3Rs—the replacement of animal use, reduction of the number of animals used and the refinement of the procedures 229W involved to minimise suffering—consisting of a small, administrative hub co-ordinating research unit embedded in existing centres of scientific excellence.
In its response to the Select Committee's report, published in January 2003, the Government accepted this recommendation in principle and undertook to explore the case for such a centre. The Inter-Departmental Group for the 3Rs led by the Home Office, and including officials from the Department of Health, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Office of Science and Technology, the Food Standards Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, and other agencies, was tasked with taking this work forward.
The Inter-Departmental Group reported to me on its initial findings in September 2003 and I expect to receive its final report shortly, including advice on the possible activities of a centre and funding issues. Subject to that advice, we will announce how we intend to proceed with the Select Committee's recommendation in the next few weeks.