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Animal Research

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the Government's response to the recommendations of the Animal Procedures Committee report on public access to information about the use of animals in research. [7736]

Angela Eagle: I welcome the Animal Procedures Committee's report on openness, which was published on 22 August 2001, and I am grateful to the Animal Procedures Committee for the time and thought that it has given to its recommendations.

The Government's response to its detailed recommendations is as follows.

The Committee's recommendations regarding the relaxation of section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and the publication of plain English summaries of programmes of work licensed under the Act have been noted and will be taken into account in the current review of section 24.

It is already Home Office policy to encourage publication of research findings, but we cannot require it. However, we agree that we must do everything possible to ensure that there is no unnecessary duplication of animal use in scientific procedures and will examine possible mechanisms for publishing negative results, consulting the scientific community and others as necessary.

We agree in principle that anonymised information regarding infringements should be published and will consider how this might best be achieved.

The content and format of the annual statistics is kept under review in line with the requirements of the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The statistics for the year 2000, published in July 2001, included an invitation to readers to submit comments and will be followed by wider consultation with the scientific community, who provide the data, and with other interested parties.

Summary information regarding the performance of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate, together with licensing information, is published as part of the annual statistics report and in the Home Office Annual Report. Scientific and the laboratory animal science and welfare literature and the Home Office websites also contain material produced by the Inspectorate.

We regularly encourage the scientific community to present its work more effectively to the public. The extent to which they do so is, however, a matter for the relevant organisations and establishments to decide.

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It is intended that the advice provided to Ministers by quality assurance panels appointed in connection with special investigations by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate will be published.

We agree that interaction between the Animal Procedures Committee and other similar committees will be helpful and look forward to seeing more detailed proposals in the Committee's work programme.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultation the Government have undertaken to ensure that increased public access to information about the use of animals in research does not increase harassment of scientists and institutions involved in animal research. [7737]

Angela Eagle: Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 prevents the disclosure by Home Office Ministers and officials of information about the use of animals in scientific procedures that has been provided in confidence. Following the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, all statutory bars to the disclosure of information are being reviewed, including section 24 of the 1986 Act.

My predecessor, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O'Brien) held a seminar with representatives of animal protection groups and the scientific community in September 2000 to discuss the review of section 24 and he and officials subsequently held a series of separate meetings with some of the organisations that participated in the seminar. Views have also been received from the Animal Procedures Committee on this subject and from respondents to the consultation document on animal rights extremism published in March 2001.

The Government have a clear commitment to freedom of information and are equally committed to the maintenance of necessary protections for individual scientists and their research institutions. I am considering very carefully how these commitments can best be met. A decision on whether to appeal or amend section 24 will not be made until later this year.

Illegal Drugs

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the result of efforts to reduce the proportion of people aged under 25 misusing illegal drugs in (a) the last month and (b) the last three years. [7344]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The British Crime Survey provides data on the levels of self-reported drug use among a representative sample of the general population in England and Wales. The survey of smoking, drinking and drug use among school children provides equivalent data for those aged 11 to 15 years.

Table 1 provides the relevant data for 1998 and 2000 for those aged 16 to 24 years.

Table 2 provides the equivalent data for 11 to 15-year-olds.

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Table 1: Percentages of respondents aged 16 to 24 years reporting use of illegal drugs in the last year and last month, in England and Wales

Last year2929
Last month1918

Bases: 1998 = 1,296; 2000 = 1,517


Drug Misuse Declare in 2000: results from the British Crime Survey, Home Office Research Study 224

Table 2: Percentages of school children aged 11 to 15 years reporting use of illegal drugs in the last year and last month, in England

Last yearLast month

Bases: 1998 = 4,647; 1999 = 9,053; 2000 = 6,855


Department of Health Statistical Press Notice, July 2001. Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2000

Suspicious Activity Reports

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many reports of suspicious activity were received by the National Criminal Intelligence Service in the most recent year for which data is available from (a) corporate service providers, (b) foreign exchange bureaux, (c) banks, (d) solicitors, (e) accountants and (f) other organisations. [8135]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In 2000, the Economic Crime Unit of the National Criminal Intelligence Service received 18,408 suspicious financial transaction reports, as follows:


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his powers to deal with travellers. [8561]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 18 October 2001]: The police have powers under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to direct travellers or other trespassers to leave land when the appropriate statutory requirements are met. These are discretionary powers and it is the operational responsibility of the chief officer of the force concerned to decide when and how to enforce these powers. The effectiveness of this legislation is kept under regular review.

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Research has been conducted to review the effectiveness of the current Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR)/Home Office Good Practice Guidance on Managing Unauthorised Camping. This will be published shortly.

Speed Cameras

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what policy guidance he has issued on the use of speed cameras to reduce speed on roads that do not present a specific problem nor have a record of traffic accidents; [8212]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 18 October 2001]: The guidance on the use of speed cameras, set out in Home Office Circular 38/1992, is that they should be located where there is a known history of accidents and where excessive speed is a major contributory factor. The primary objective is to reduce accidents and increase road safety.

Following the announcement in August of the national roll-out of the netting-off scheme for speed camera funding, the Government are working with the police and local authorities to strengthen this guidance. Under the netting-off scheme cameras may be placed only where there is a history of speed-related injuries or at accident

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hotspots. Their use must be monitored to ensure that they help to reduce accidents. Those that do not will have to be moved to a more appropriate location or removed altogether.

Our aim in strengthening the guidance is to ensure that, as far as possible, one set of rules applies to all speed cameras, whether or not part of the netting-off scheme and this includes mobile speed cameras. Mobile cameras are not covered by the existing guidance, but we want to ensure that, in future, the use of these cameras is guided by similar principles to those that apply to fixed cameras to reduce accidents. Fixed site cameras will have to be highly visible, and so will officers using mobile cameras. All areas where cameras, whether fixed or mobile are in use will have to be clearly signed, and the deployment of cameras will have to be well publicised locally.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money was collected (a) nationally and (b) in Essex from (i) static and (ii) mobile speed cameras in (A) 1998–99, (B) 1999–2000 and (c) 2000–01. [8213]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 18 October 2001]: Information collected centrally does not identify the type of cameras used. Available data, by calendar year, are given in the table. Figures for 2000 will be available towards the end of the year.

Under the netting-off scheme for camera funding piloted in Essex and seven other areas, income from fines is used to meet the camera costs.

Fixed penalty and court proceeding data for offences of speeding detected by cameras(7),(8) for the Essex police force area and England and Wales, 1998 and 1999

Fixed penalties Court Proceedings
Number of tickets(9)Estimated revenue(10) (£)Number of finesTotal amount of fine (£)Average fine (£)
England and Wales
Essex police force area

(7) Automatic cameras until 1998, all camera types for 1999

(8) Offences under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and Motor Vehicles (Speed Limits on Motorways) Regulations 1973

(9) Paid ie no further action

(10) 'Estimate' based on £40 fixed penalty charge from 1995 to 1999

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