Memorandum from Dr Kathleen Mathers, Medical
I am the Head of the Division of Biological
Services at the MRC's NIMR that provides and manages the laboratory
animal resource to 17 of the Scientific Divisions at the NIMR.
In particular regard to the relocation of animal facilities I
have raised my own concerns, and those of my staff, throughout
the last 20 months since the first FIS recommendations were published.
I have felt that these concerns have not been considered or addressed
by MRC council.
I feel that it is my responsibility to ensure
that careful and proper consideration is given to the issue of
relocation of animal facilities because:
The current facilities are modern,
efficient, flexible and cost-effective.
The current site will allow for future
expansion of the facilities to meet changing legislation, and
the changing needs of science including emerging infections.
The facilities are the largest academic
animal facilities on a single site in the UK and based on Home
Office statistics represent 45% of the MRC animal use in direct
support units (and 5% of the national animal use).
Our operational procedures place
great emphasis on animal care and welfare and maximising the principles
of the 3R's.
There will be a huge cost, both financially
and in terms of animal welfare, in relocating these facilities.
In addition I am worried about security issues
of a move, the duplication of experiments that will be required
during the early stages of a new build and the welfare implications
and number of animals that will have to be used and killed to
execute a move and test a theory which does not come backed with
any evidence. I enclose a letter that the senior managers of Biological
Services wrote to council in September, which seems to have been
ignored. This letter further details the major disadvantages of
moving the animal facilities away from Mill Hill.
I request that the Committee will probe the
real reasons for excluding Mill Hill as an option and will ensure
that the MRC (with its commitment to the 3R's) is aware of the
implications to the Biological Services component alone.
22 November 2004