National Anti-vivisection Society

 

National Antivisection Society

APC Report on openness

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(Campaigner magazine report dated Sep-Dec 2001)


It is likely that the Animal Procedures Committee (APC) report on ‘openness’, published in August 2001, will be influential in the final deliberations on FoI and vivisection.

Readers will recall, that last year (Campaigner Jan-Apr 2000), we asked you to respond to the APC ‘Consultation paper on openness and animal procedures.’ Well done to everyone who wrote in - your responses form part of this document. The majority of individuals and animal welfare groups supported increased openness, whilst most research institutions, pharmaceutical companies etc., favoured options maintaining secrecy, or supported none of the APC options.

’The Committee concluded that it is likely that there will be a need to vary section 24 of the 1986 Act; that there should be no blanket exemptions on the duty to disclose information; and that any publication scheme which the Home Office might develop would need to reflect the spirit of openness.’

The APC make several recommendations:

1. Repeal or relaxation of section 24 of the A(SP)A should be considered as a necessary step. But this would not be retrospective.

2. The Project Licence Application form should have a summary (accessible to the general reader) including the procedures to be performed, objectives, numbers and species of animals, including reasons for the choice of species, and the ‘cost/benefit’ analysis.

The APC have not recommended whether this should be made public before or after the licence is granted but put what it saw as the advantages and disadvantages of each. The advantages being that groups like the NAVS could question research and recommend non-animal methods. Also if rejected applications were seen, the public would “.. see that the licensing process was sufficiently rigorous.” The case against claims that applications develop in discussion, the version of an application made public might not be the final one, and outside questioning might hamper the process. Also, “until a licence is granted, the procedure has not been subject to an exercise of governmental judgement, and therefore should not be made public.” [The points against all appear a little desperate - what next, you would only see local planning applications after they’ve been granted!]

3. Concerning publication of results, the APC noted that positive results are published negative ones are not. Failure to publish experiments which don’t work is asking for them to be repeated. the APC “urges the Home Office to commission further examination of possible mechanisms for publishing negative results."

4. Increased openness on infringements of the Act. The APC have offered to publish these themselves.

5. Improve on statistical information provided annually, with fuller details of severity of experiments and the numbers of animals kept in laboratories (not just those used).

NAVS Evidence to APC Consultation on Openness: pdf to be supplied

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