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Animal Testing

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of progress in the co-ordination between the Department of Health, the Home Office, and the Department of Trade and Industry of a joint Government/industry message on the necessity for, and benefits of, animal testing. [134426]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government fully accept that the progress of scientific research; the development of new medical and veterinary drugs and technologies; and consumer and environmental safety continue to depend on the use of animals. Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring that animals are used only where fully justified and where there are no alternatives. We will continue to work with the scientific community, industry and responsible animal welfare organisations to achieve this and to ensure that the costs and benefits of the use of animals in scientific research are fully explained.

The Home Office maintains a series of formal relationships with several sectors and interest groups as well as other Government Departments. We liaise with users and their professional bodies; with regulators in United Kingdom Government; and with industry (centering on the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry).

Officials also liaise with grant awarding bodies such as the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust who are significant public sector research funding bodies and have established a set of principles which reflect the requirements of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

We work with the Regulatory Toxicology Group, including Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, DETR, Heath & Safety Executive and the DTI, which has led to the production of the new Regulatory Toxicology Guidance which is due to be published soon.

As a result of our setting up a data sharing working group, we have gained the endorsement of Government Departments of the principle of data sharing and agreement that United Kingdom regulatory agencies should encourage industry to extend the scope for sharing animal test data in the field of regulatory safety testing. An inter-Departmental concordat has therefore been developed as a first step in this process and should enable Government Departments to reduce the duplication of tests on animals.

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to reduce (a) the number of experiments conducted on animals and (b) the number of animals used in experiments in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement; [134277]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: Non-human primates are used in regulatory testing to help ensure the safety of medicines and are also used for other important areas of fundamental research aimed primarily at better understanding the causes of disease in humans and developing potential new treatments. They contribute, for example, to programmes of work relating to Parkinson's disease, visual impairment, stroke, diabetes, disorders of reproduction and vaccine development. The 1986 Act requires that non-human primates are only used in scientific procedures if no other species is suitable.

In deciding whether to grant a licence for any regulated procedure, the 1986 Act requires that the likely benefits of the programme be weighed against the likely adverse effects on the animals concerned (the cost/benefit assessment) and that there are no alternatives which either replace animal use entirely, reduce the number of animals needed or refine the procedures to minimise suffering (the 3Rs). We must also be satisfied that the procedures are likely to achieve the stated objectives.

The 1986 Act does not make provision for controlling the overall number of procedures. While we can ensure that the number of animals used in each programme of work is minimised, we cannot dictate how many applications for new project licences will be submitted, nor how many will satisfy the requirements of the cost/benefit assessment.

The effectiveness of the Act cannot be judged by the overall number of procedures as the primary purpose of the Act is to reduce suffering.

In addition to the rigorous application of the 3Rs we have gained the endorsement of Government Departments of the principle of data sharing and agreement that United Kingdom regulatory agencies should encourage industry to extend the scope for sharing animal test data in the field of regulatory safety testing. An inter-Departmental concordat has therefore been developed as a first step in this process and should enable Government Departments to reduce the duplication of tests on animals.

The use of alternatives is already widely encouraged. Indeed, the use of animals in procedures is prohibited by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 in cases where a scientifically valid alternative is available. Each year the Home Office makes available to the Animal Procedures Committee a budget aimed at developing or promoting the use of alternatives which replace animal use, reduce the number of animals used or refine the procedures involved to minimise suffering. In each of the last five years, these budgets have totalled:

Year£000
1995-96253
1996-97242
1997-98182
1998-99259
1999-2000259

The budget for 2000-01 is £265,000. The budget for 2001-02 has not yet been set.


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Lord-Lieutenants

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 7 July 2000, Official Report, columns 355-56W, regarding lord-lieutenants, what expenditure was incurred by his Department in support of each lord lieutenant in the financial year 1999-2000. [134981]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Expenditure incurred by the Home Office in support of each lord lieutenant in the financial year 1999-2000 was:

Expenditure
Counties
Berkshire3,659.04
Cambridgeshire9,153.22
Cornwall6,702.14
Devon6,709.74
Dorset781.84
East Sussex4,327.75
Essex475.47
Gloucestershire4,305.94
Hampshire20,239.20
Herefordshire1,789.76
Hertfordshire744.98
Isle of Wight739.85
Kent3,369.86
Lancashire2,105.76
Lincolnshire2,611.43
Norfolk3,392.24
North Yorkshire7,164.08
Nottingham4,910.63
Northamptonshire1,578.92
Oxfordshire3,626.04
Rutland594.19
Somerset2,135.87
Staffordshire4,081.33
Suffolk1,833.68
Surrey4,554.15
West Sussex3,658.33
Wiltshire2,402.38
Metropolitan
Bristol28,050.00
Durham26,897.18
East Riding17,620.00
Greater London60,026.76
Greater Manchester104,850.00
Merseyside75,915.00
South Yorkshire33,900.00
Tyne and Wear63,180.00
West Midlands101,599.00
West Yorkshire62,000.00

Crime Initiatives (Builders)

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what funding has been made available by his Department to projects in (1) England to combat incompetent and dishonest builders as part of crime initiatives; [134853]

Mr. Charles Clarke: As part of the Reducing Burglary Initiative, the Home Office has provided funding for a project in Leeds which is primarily aimed at reducing

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distraction burglary (burglary artifice). One element of the project, however, is the creation of a 'check-point' scheme which will contain a list of approved contractors who provide a reliable service at a reasonable cost. £131,000 has been identified specially for this element of the project.

Matters relating to the construction industry generally and moves to improve the service offered to the public by builders are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. I support work currently being undertaken by his Department to tackle the problem.

Oakington Reception Centre

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington), 14 April 2000, Official Report, column 292W, if he will provide a breakdown, by major category, of the weekly unit cost of housing an asylum seeker at Oakington reception centre (a) at present and (b) when the centre is operating at full capacity; and if he will provide a breakdown of the costs incurred in establishing Oakington reception centre. [134855]

Mrs. Roche: Oakington was set up in March 2000 with an initial capacity of 144 beds. Asylum seekers were taken in on a carefully phased programme. The set up costs to date amount to about £5 million and are expected to reach £6 million.

In September (the last full month for which figures are available), the average daily population was 101 and the weekly unit cost was £2,700. Occupancy has since increased rapidly and is now 176 resulting in a reduction in the unit cost which will continue to fall as the population increases to full capacity. When operating at full capacity, the cost would be £800 per person.

These figures are higher than those given in the reply to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 14 April. The first figure in that reply was based on the cost of an available space. It appears that the second figure may not have included all the costs of the establishment.


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