HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 c893W
Michael Fabricant

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she last met the Home Secretary to discuss the effect on inward investment in the pharmaceutical research industry of the activities of animal rights activists: and if she wi11 make a statement. [168983]

Ms Hewitt

Government is determined that companies and other organisations should not be prevented from carrying out their legitimate activities by intimidation and harassment from animal rights extremists. Ministers and officials from the DTI have frequent meetings with colleagues in the Home Office, and in other Government Departments, to discuss the impact of animal rights extremism on biomedical research in the UK, including the pharmaceutical industry.

We have made a number of charges to strengthen the law to deal with extremists. The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 strengthened police powers to deal with smaller, intimidatory protests and office occupations by extremists. Government has funded a new police unit to provide tactical guidance on policing extremists. A National Forum on policing and prosecution of animal rights cases has been set up to work on improving both operational policing and legislative measures. We are also considering as a matter of urgency what further legislation may be necessary.