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Animal experiments statistics debate in Parliament

Group members met Under Secretary of State Meg Hillier earlier this month (Feb 09) to call for her support in opposing the planned reduction in scope and content of published figures proposed in the new directive from the European Parliament.


In the debate she offered assurance that there were no plans to reduce the published statistics. “I reassure colleagues that we have no plans to reduce the scope of the current figures. We want to give a full and accurate account of scientific procedures under the 1986 Act, and it is important to be clear that we are not trying to hide anything.”

She said that the debate sent out a message that the UK Parliament wanted to maintain high standards in animal welfare and did not want regulations watered down by a European directive. 


She said that the Government aimed to be as transparent as possible about the use of animals in experiments and 80 per cent of project applications publish an abstract of their work on the Home Office website under a voluntary scheme.


“I stress my belief that our statistics are robust. We publish comprehensive statistics annually, and they have been collected and published for many years. In fact, I am told that our handwritten records go back to 1876, when the Cruelty to Animals Act was introduced.


“The statistics are produced under the provisions of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. They are also part of the national statistics framework and under the management of the Home Office’s independent chief statistician, who is accountable to the national statistician. The statistics are also subject to the UK Statistics Authority’s new code of practice for official statistics, and those governance arrangements demonstrate that we are not trying to hide anything.”


She thanked the All Party FRAME Group for its work in monitoring the progress of introduction of the Three Rs and for stimulating informed discussion on the topic.


She added: “It is clear from the tone of today’s debate that although we all accept that animal experimentation is both effective and necessary, we do not relish it. We believe that it should be used only if the benefits have been carefully weighed against the costs to the animals; if there is no other way to achieve the desired results; if the procedures will cause the least suffering and will use the minimum number of animals to achieve the outcome; and if high standards of animal welfare are applied.”


The full Hansard report is available by clicking the link below.

25 February 2009

Download the article (Hansard_statisticsdebate_24Feb09.pdf)