Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1360-1364)|
TUESDAY 12 MARCH 2002
Baroness Richardson of Calow
1360. This is an observation really that, following
the line of your argument, when you talk about cruelty the primary
act of cruelty is for these animals to be born in the first place.
(Ms Creamer) Certainly in that we do not think they
should be used in research, yes. There is not a way of using animals
in laboratory research where they are not going to suffer in some
way either by neglect or by a technician not understanding . .
1361. In fact, all the arguments that you have
adduced from the fact that animals are ill-used in the laboratory
pale into significance against the fact that they are used at
(Mr Phillips) We do stress that we are opposed to
all animal experimentation. What we are trying to clarify is that
there is a level of suffering at every stage of these animals'
lives and I think you can quantify suffering. I do not think there
is any doubt that for those animals which are just living in those
cages and then are gassed that might be a terrible existence but
that goes up a few levels of suffering when they are then, returning
to our arthritis example, . . . .
1362. That argument that you are making, that
it was not necessary to use the animals, is that not something
where you ought to be engaged in a discussion with groups who
do not necessarily take exactly the same moral viewpoint as you
do? The Boyd Group, which I attended fairly recently, was discussing
the use of animal experiments in household products and how they
could be limited. Does it not make sense for you to be present
at the Boyd Group to take part in these discussions so that while
you still have very different moral viewpoints from them, you
can at least discuss ways in which suffering of animals could
(Ms Creamer) The Boyd Group is an interesting one.
First of all, the view that we take is that we are opposed to
all animal experiments but we are looking for a practical positive
way forward: how can we step by step eliminate them? There have
been many talking shops over the years and one of the best ones
was organised by a then Home Office Minister, George Howarth,
some years ago. That was a very good day where everyone was in
the same room and we did by the end of the day start talking about
ideas and positive ways forward. Our problem would be that the
Boyd Group has a pre-set agenda, apart from the fact that we are
not attracted by their ethics in the way that they invite people
to join them. They invite people to join in a personal capacity,
there was quite a lot of personal pressure to join, but it can
be announced in the media that your organisation is represented.
I take the view that I work for a Council of Management and if
the organisation is not invited to a Boyd Group meeting then I
cannot go. Secondly, it is another talking shop. We have had much
more productive discussions with the Home Office and with people
who are looking for arrangements that can be made, new methods
and new ideas, things that we can do to move the issue forward.
One of the reasons that we have campaigned so heavily on freedom
of information, for example, and talked to the Home Office a lot
about this, is that the reason people get so angry and frustrated
is that they feel that their voices are not being heard. The sorts
of ideas that we are putting forward will allow people to have
some input and feel that their voices are being heard. Yes, we
talk to various people but now we are trying to focus on talking
to people like the personnel at the Home Office where perhaps
we can move things forward and achieve something rather than just
talking about an agenda.
(Mr Phillips) I would stress that we are prepared
to be cross-party as it were, have the dialogue if it is meaningful,
and we do have concerns with the Boyd Group that it is something
of a public relations exercise. I would stress that on freedom
of information the discussions which have been cross-party at
the Home Office with both sides represented, the Boyd Group do
not tend to have been there whereas ourselves and several of the
research establishments have. I would note at those discussions
that we have gone in that freedom of information is happening.
The issue is what information will be given out. We have attempted
in those to take a practical stance. We have said that it is out
of the question for the experimenters' names to be given out and
made public. The addresses of establishments should not be made
public. Also we have told both the Home Office and the other people
round the table that considerations of commercial, even academic,
confidentiality can be addressed. We have gone in there taking
what is for an abolitionist organisation I think a realistic and
reasonable approach. In those meetings we tend to have been met
by blanket dogma from the animal experimentation community saying,
"We cannot give out any information whatsoever". I was
very pleased to sit in on the sessions here and say that they
are now welcoming freedom of information and more transparency,
because I hope that two years of deadlock are now over.
Baroness Eccles of Moulton
1363. I will not ask the question I was going
to ask because it involves a rather long dialogue. What I would
like to say is that you have referred quite a lot to experimentation
alternative to animal experimentation, which you have found. I
think it was extremely interesting for the Committee to know a
little bit more about that. I have flicked through your evidence
which I have not, sadly, had time to read, and I do not think
I found anything very much about it in there, but it would be
very interesting to know what you found to be available and, even
more importantly, what outcomes, what results, you have found
which demonstrate very clearly that in vitro experimentation
is a good substitute for animals. Do not answer it now but perhaps
you could give us something in writing. That would be very helpful.
1364. It would be very helpful if you could
do that. Maybe in that you could touch on the remaining questions,
particularly the use of alternatives, because we are particularly
interested in that area.
Lord Lucas: Chairman, if I could also ask, I would
be very interested to see exactly what information you propose
should be made available under the Freedom of Information Act.
Chairman: That would be very useful. Thank you very
1 Further memorandum received [Not printed].