National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

MP debate presses Government on animal experimentation issues

Posted: 8 February 2013

In a Westminster Hall debate on 12 February 2013, Henry Smith MP drew attention to concerns about the use of animals in experiments in the UK.

Mr Smith questioned the Government about its pledge to reduce the number of animals used in research. He asked what steps will be taken and when do the Government expect to see an impact? Mr Smith proposed a number of ways to achieve a reduction, including a ban on the import of primates for experiments, better implementation of the 3Rs and a ban on the most severe experiments such as “repeated electric shock treatment to induce a state of learned helplessness” and forced exercise to the point of exhaustion. Mr Smith told the debate that “the Government still have time to issue a policy statement making it clear that no project licences will be granted for such experiments”.

The NAVS has long campaigned for the repeal of Section 24 of the Animals in Scientific Procedures Act, as it allows blanket secrecy about animal experiments. Mr Smith emphasised that, despite much consideration being given to this issue, no date is currently set for further conclusions or consultation. The debate was informed by the Minister Mark Harper that “We are doing work now, over the next six months, and aim to report our conclusions to Parliament before the House rises for the summer”.

On the matter of another commitment made by the Government in 2010, to end the use of animals in household product testing, the question of a definition of a household product was raised. The Minister later answered that the Government are “close to finalising a definition” and that an announcement will be made in due course.

On the implementation of the European Directive into UK law, Mr Smith stated the importance of the Guidance document, which the NAVS are currently consulting on, expressed concern over the “watering down” of personal licences, and the lack of extra funding for the new Animals in Science Committee despite its wider remit than its predecessor, the Animal Procedures Committee.

The debate is welcomed and raised some essential questions, continuing the pressure on the Government to work towards the replacement of animals used in experiments. Kerry McCarthy MP made a pertinent point during the debate, saying that “There is a tendency for the issue to be sidelined and not given the attention that it deserves”.

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