asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce regulations requiring animal dealers and pet shops who acquire animals for disposal to establishments practising vivisection to display a prominent notice in their establishments that they are engaged in this trade, and that all advertisements for animals intended for sale to laboratories shall carry a statement of this intention.
Legislation would be necessary to impose such requirements. My right hon. and learned Friend is awaiting the report of the Departmental Committee on Experiments on Animals, which is studying the question of the supply of experimental animals amongst other matters.
In thanking the hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask whether he does not agree that a declaration of intention concerning these animals should be made by pet shops which acquire them for vivisection purposes and that advertisements for animals—which are often misleading and imply that the animals are to be used as pets, whereas they are acquired by dealers entirely for vivisection—should have such a statement incorporated in them?
The hon. Member is well known in the House for his long and honourable interest in the welfare of animals, and I appreciate that he speaks with considerable authority. He will be pleased to know that the Committee is being invited to consider the suggestions which he has made and those which appeared in a recent article which disturbed a great many people.
I am aware that on all sides of the House there is anxiety about the well-being of these animals, and I will convey to my right hon. and learned Friend what my hon. Friend has said.
Will the hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that in the last five years the number of experiments has risen by 700,000 and in the last year by 150,000? May I ask him, in association with his hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman), really to hurry the report and get something done about it? It must be hurried.
Will the Joint Under-Secretary take into account that completely new legislation would not necessarily be essential at the beginning but that by very small amendments of the Pet Animals Act and the Animal Boarding Establishments Act some form of intermediate control could be introduced to improve the situation?