Motion to Take Note

Part of EU: Directive on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes (EUC Report) – in the House of Lords at 4:13 pm on 10th February 2010.

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Photo of Lord West of Spithead Lord West of Spithead Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Security and Counter-terrorism) 4:13 pm, 10th February 2010

My Lords, if I may, I will come back on the detail of that. As I understand it, we went as far as the market would bear. I do not think that it was a problem for us, but I will get back to the noble Earl about the details of the negotiation, as I cannot speak to them at the moment.

We have negotiated to develop practical, proportionate and enforceable legislation that makes proper provision for the welfare of laboratory animals and can adapt to further technical progress. My noble friend Lord Sewel asked whether we can guarantee unannounced inspections. The rigour of the current system and unannounced inspections will be maintained. We sought to avoid inflexible or disproportionate measures that would damage or undermine the competitiveness, sustainability and success of the UK and European research base or unnecessarily delay the healthcare benefits that animal research and testing continue to support.

Overall, we are satisfied that the revised text provides a sound and practical framework for the regulation of animal experimentation and testing in Europe. It is certainly better balanced, more flexible and less prescriptive than the Commission's proposal and will allow the United Kingdom to maintain its traditionally high standards of welfare and animal protection. The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, asked whether we can maintain current standards, so I hope that that answers that. Article 2(a) of the text will permit that and it will be done.

We welcome the fact that the revised proposal will allow member states to retain existing, additional animal welfare measures that do not distort the internal market. My noble friend Lord Sewel asked whether all projects will still be ethically evaluated and authorised. Simpler applications may be subjected to a lesser bureaucracy, but I can assure my noble friend that animal welfare and the quality of decision-making will not be compromised. The revised proposals avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and offer opportunities to reduce the current UK regulatory burden without harming animal welfare.

I have a response from the Box to the question asked by the noble Earl, Lord Caithness. The response says exactly what I said already, which is that I will write and explain the matter in detail. The Box has nothing further to add; clearly it knows as much as I do.

To summarise, we have a position in the UK to be proud of. I think that the negotiation has been successful. The European standard has been raised across the board. We can be proud of that negotiation. Could more be done? Probably, and we must keep doing it, but we have a good record in this country and it is important that we keep pressure on all these areas, because this matter is so important. Finally, I thank the committee again for its work and for bringing this report for debate.