Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Dr Kathleen Mathers, Medical Research Council

  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

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