Amendment 97

Environment Bill - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:00 pm on 28th June 2021.

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Baroness Hayman of Ullock:

Moved by Baroness Hayman of Ullock

97: Clause 22, page 13, line 32, at end insert—“(ba) how the OEP intends to determine whether the protected provisions of the REACH Regulation set out in Schedule 20 are being upheld,(bb) how the OEP intends to exercise its enforcement functions where a breach of obligation is found to have occurred under paragraph (ba),”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment would require the OEP’s strategy to consider (a) how it will ensure that protected provisions of the REACH Regulation (including the principle that animal testing should only be used as a last resort) are being upheld, and (b) how its enforcement functions may be applied in the case of breaches of protected provisions.

Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

My Lords, I rise to propose Amendment 97, which—like Amendment 289, which I will also speak to—is in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Jones of Whitchurch. I also give our strong support to the amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville.

Environmental groups, animal rights charities, health campaigners and the chemicals industry all remain concerned that the Government’s plans for UK REACH put the environment, human and animal health and business interests at risk. The CHEM Trust has specific concerns about whether the Government accept industry proposals for deregulating UK REACH, on which I understand a decision is imminent. Are the Government looking to amend the Environment Bill to allow this, and does the Minister agree that this would effectively make it harder to prevent the chemical pollution of our water, air and the wider environment?

I turn to our Amendment 97. Schedule 20 of the Bill protects the principle of animal testing “as a last resort” and the principle of the promotion of non-animal alternatives. Our Amendment 97 would require the OEP’s strategy to consider, first, how it will ensure that the protected provisions of the REACH regulation, including the principle that animal testing should be used only “as a last resort”, are being upheld—and, secondly, how its enforcement functions may be applied in the case of breaches of protected provisions.

EU REACH requires companies to share data and thus avoid unnecessary animal testing. Under it, animal testing is to be avoided in favour of alternative methods, and tests involving the use of animals can be carried out only “as a last resort”. However, a major challenge in making sure that animal testing has only been used as a last resort and that the promotion of alternatives is applied in EU REACH has been the failure of oversight and enforcement. The European Chemicals Agency, responsible for the EU chemicals testing legislation, has been judged in the past, by the independent EU ombudsman, to be lacking in appropriate action to ensure that the number of animal tests carried out is minimised. This judgment has been acknowledged, as was the agency’s duty to review and prohibit animal tests more effectively in the future. This amendment seeks to ensure that oversight and enforcement of these important principles are included in the remit of the OEP, thus strengthening UK REACH by applying the lessons learned from EU REACH.

However, EU REACH has also minimised animal tests through data sharing and other measures—something that was heavily promoted by the British delegation when REACH was initially created. According to Home Office figures, in 2019, 3.4 million procedures involving living animals were carried out in Great Britain—all, by statutory definition, with the potential to cause

“pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm”.

Importantly, the 2019 figures show a decrease of 3% on the previous year, which is also the lowest number since 2007. So we must not jeopardise this progress.

Many people are deeply concerned about the use of animals in experiments, with 74% of the public agreeing that more needs to be done to find alternatives. Therefore, the regulation of animal research and testing is a significant issue for the UK. The Government must ensure that the public can have confidence that legislation governing the use of animals in science is applied rigorously.

I have talked previously in your Lordships’ House about my concerns that, under UK REACH, the HSE’s lack of access to the full chemical safety data currently held by EU REACH could lead to duplicate animal testing. The Chemical Business Association has said that British businesses do not normally own the testing data required for registrations under UK REACH; it is held by a consortium of European countries. To reuse the data, companies may need to obtain permission from the consortium and would likely have to pay for the extension of rights. If this cannot be obtained, tests may have to be redone to establish safety information, which could involve repeat animal testing.

In the case of new animal tests, a testing proposal must first be submitted and approved, but we have yet to discover what stance the UK authorities, led by the HSE, will take in interpreting the principle of using animal testing only as a last resort. Now that we have left the EU, it is important that domestic accountability is strengthened. We should be seeking to ensure that our standards are the best in the world, while working to influence the EU and other trading partners to raise animal welfare standards.

Amendment 289 would establish a mechanism for reviewing the performance of the HSE in relation to its expanded responsibilities under UK REACH. We have tabled this amendment because the Government have so far failed to demonstrate that the HSE, as the chemical regulator in the UK, will be equipped with the necessary skills and capabilities that at least match what has been provided by the European Chemicals Agency. It is worth reminding your Lordships’ House that the UK chemicals industry has a turnover of £32 billion and represents a workforce of 102,000, so it is imperative that this highly skilled industry is protected. In creating the new UK REACH, the Government have shown insufficient understanding of how chemicals are managed in complex supply chains, with analysis of neither the cost of setting up the new regime nor the additional cost to business. As currently set up, we will worryingly not have the same level of protection from harmful chemicals that we currently enjoy.

Can the Minister set out how the new system will be staffed and resourced to ensure current levels of protection continue, and how that system will be reviewed on its performance and capabilities? Assuming that it will be reviewed, how often will this take place? Who will carry out the review, what will it cover and what action will be taken to remedy any failings or concerns? We need a regulatory system that provides the same levels of protection for human health and the environment that we enjoyed under EU REACH, otherwise critical decisions on chemicals will be made by a body with little experience and with layers of accountability and scientific expertise stripped away.

In a previous debate on this issue, the Minister said he agreed with me that the Health and Safety Executive’s ability to take on the task of the agency is essential to the success of UK REACH, so does he also agree that there needs to be a mechanism to review the agency’s performance to ensure that it is taking on the task to the required standard in order to have confidence that its responsibilities are being properly discharged? There must not be any repeat animal tests, so what guarantees can the Minister give—he is a strong supporter of animal welfare—and how confident is he that this can be ensured and will not just be an undeliverable promise?

The last time I raised this issue with the Minister, he recognised that there are concerns about the duplication of animal testing and, as reassurance, he gave the fact that the last resort principle is enshrined in the Bill as a protective provision. I do not believe that it is a cast-iron guarantee against unnecessary duplicate testing, but if he genuinely believes that the Bill is strong enough and that UK REACH will be capable of working effectively in this area, can he explain exactly how these protective provisions will be upheld and what will happen if any breaches of these provisions are found to have taken place? I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock. I support Amendments 97 and 289, to which she spoke so comprehensively. I shall speak also to Amendments 277, 281, 282, 294, 295, 296 and 297 in my name.

These amendments are all about REACH—the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. REACH was introduced in the EU in 2006 and was not carried over into UK law at the point of Brexit, as were a large number of other EU laws. By mid-2019, some 24,660 animal tests had been performed for EU REACH purposes, equating to an estimated 6 million animals. While it has in the past been necessary to test chemicals on animals, it is not necessary to repeatedly duplicate tests for the same or very similar chemicals over and again. Testing should be kept to an absolute minimum, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, said.

The Government have come forward with a new UK REACH system, which should be better, leading the way to a full transition to using non-animal approaches to safely test chemicals. Next week we will debate the animal sentience Bill. Surely the Government want the ethos of that Bill to be extended to this Bill.

Amendment 277 relates to REACH Articles 26, 27 and 30, and is designed to prevent duplication of testing on animals and increase the sharing of data, which would make it unnecessary to duplicate tests on animals. The last set of EU statistics on animal experiments showed that more animals were used for testing in the UK than in any other EU country. This leads us to the need to move at a pace to adopt methods other than animal testing. NAMs—new approach methodologies —include technologies, methodologies, approaches, or a combination of all three to provide information on chemical hazards. They can be extensive and achieve equal or greater biological predictability than current animal models. Amendments 281 and 282 would set REACH targets to replace testing on animals and to increase data sharing to prevent unnecessary testing.

Amendments 294 to 297 intend to ensure that the Government attach full weight to evolving scientific progress when considering animal testing, thereby reducing the need for animal testing except in very rare cases or, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, says in Amendment 97, as a last resort. Too often in the past it has been seen as acceptable to test cosmetics on animals. Those days are gone. It is no longer acceptable.

I fully support Amendment 289 from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, to ensure that there is monitoring of the Health and Safety Executive’s performance in the execution of its duties under the UK REACH responsibilities.

The impact of UK REACH is extensive and may often be less visible than we would wish. Animals are sentient beings and deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. I look forward to the Minister’s comments on these amendments, especially bearing in mind the animal sentience Bill, which is going into Committee next week.

Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 9:15 pm, 28th June 2021

The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, have indicated that they do not wish to speak on this group of amendments. I therefore call the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb.

Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

My Lords, this is an interesting group. I will stick to talking about Amendment 281 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville.

Nowadays, there is widespread recognition that animal testing is wrong and should be avoided. The expansion and development of human society has had huge impacts on all sorts of other species. Disruption to their lifestyles has been accidental and deliberate, and has resulted in suffering, death, and even extinction. Millions of animals are still abused every year in experiments that cause great pain and suffering. This is despite significant differences between the physiology of animals and humans, which can mean these experiments are ineffective or even pointless. I am sure that noble Lords know that biomedical researchers have often excluded women from clinical trials, even for drugs only for women, so how much worse to try to model on animals. A lot of non-animal technologies can be used instead, as can human tissue.

We must also not forget the harmful use of animals in education, where millions more animals are killed specifically for dissection and other educational experiments. Just as we would never think of killing a human so that trainee doctors can learn about anatomy, we should not be killing animals for people to learn. Again, technology can replace much of the need for using real animal specimens in education, but where dead animals are necessary, they can be sourced from animals that have died naturally or have been euthanised for humane reasons.

This is all about shining a light on our exploitation of other species and choosing a different course for our future. Hopefully, we are advanced enough to move beyond these barbaric practices and move positively forwards as stewards of the natural world.

Photo of Baroness Fox of Buckley Baroness Fox of Buckley Non-affiliated

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb. Guess what—I am going to argue the opposite.

Dame Sarah Gilbert received a well-deserved standing ovation at Wimbledon today for her pioneering work on vaccines. I echo those cheers and that standing ovation, but I note that that achievement required experimentation on monkeys and mice. I oppose these amendments—a whole range from Amendments 97 to 297 and in between —because, in one way or another, they seek to make animal testing ever more regulated. There is even an inference, by positing it in an animal welfare context and with this emphasis on the last resort, that this vital part of scientific research is somehow a necessary evil that should be abolished and is morally dubious.

The UK system of regulating animal testing and experiments is already the tightest in the world, and researchers complain that they can obtain licences only if they clearly demonstrate that there are no alternatives. Some have to wait so long to secure approval for small amendments to research licences that the research becomes outdated and has to be abandoned. The whole field is too heavily bureaucratised; certainly, no more bureaucracy is needed. I am worried already about the Bill, without it being tightened up by these amendments.

I have long felt queasy about the “reduce” and “replace” elements of the three Rs. Endless attempts at placing restrictions on the types or numbers of animals used in experiments can, I fear, only stifle medical and human safety progress, with their positive benefits for humanity. For the record, and I know this is medical research but I want to remind people of the kind of benefits we mean, the use of dogs to extract insulin to treat diabetes, the experiments on armadillos that helped develop a cure for leprosy, and the wonder drug levodopa used on people with Parkinson’s—if you know anyone who has had that disease and taken that drug, you will know what a wonderful gain it is—would not have been developed without the insights gained from research involving animals. Think of a world without pacemakers, heart transplants, open-heart surgery, safe anaesthetics, polio vaccines and cancer treatments that mean survival rates have doubled over the last 40 years. So many people alive today—in fact, so many in this Chamber—are here only because of the role of animal research in the battle against nature and natural diseases. That is even before we talk about Covid vaccines.

Reducing the use of animals in testing or medical science would be a backwards step. The truth is that, if we are to fully understand and find more treatments for Covid-19, we will need to do more animal research, not less—not reduce the number of animals, but use multiple species. There will be lots of failed experiments, which some will say is a waste, but that is what will eventually mean that we find answers and cures. As outlined in Nature magazine recently:

“Monkeys and mice tell researchers different things about infection, shedding light on factors such as … the immune system or how the virus spreads.”

Whatever the testing is for, we have to say that this is one result of human ingenuity, of life-saving problem-solvers, and it should be celebrated and encouraged.

Instead, there is a faintly misanthropic whiff to this constant demand to reduce animal research, as well as a focus on animal welfare rather than human welfare. We all know how animal rights activists have adopted anthropomorphic language to discredit animal research: mice are “tortured”, pigs are “sacrificed” and dogs are “mutilated”—we have heard about “barbarity” today. This leads to a narrative of scientists portrayed as though they get perverse pleasure from sadistically experimenting on animals.

I am not trying to sugar-coat vivisection or this kind of testing. I know that it involves gore and, ultimately, destroying animals. But this is not wanton animal cruelty; it is driven by a desire to save human life and have a safer society. That is why I have so objected over the years to the way that these scientists and researchers, and the research institutions and the chemical and pharmaceutical companies, whether private or public, have been vilified and harassed—named and shamed in a culture of fear. These scientists and researchers should have nothing to be ashamed of; indeed, I want not only to reject these amendments but to go on the offensive about the moral good of research on animals. If Sarah Gilbert deserves a standing ovation, so do they. I rather feel as if these amendments are a bit of a dispiriting slow handclap.

Let us not get muddled up here. We should not allow rhetoric about animal welfare to stand in the way of human welfare and the alleviation of human suffering or making the world safer. Some may think this human-centric and unsympathetic to animals but, rather, I am rather worried about affording a moral equivalence between animals and humans. I refute the caricature that this equates to indifference to animals.

As it pays attention to wildlife and with its focus on biodiversity, the Bill inevitably also has a focus on animal protection policies. That means our gaze is on animals, but we must resist seeing issues through an animal rights framework that upgrades and exaggerates the capacity of animals, while logically and philosophically down- grading and diminishing the agency and consciousness of humans—capacities that animals do not possess. This careless interchangeability between human and animal rights and capacities has been raised as a problem in relation to the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill by a number of noble Lords.

I hope that the Minister and the Government will reject these amendments and, without rehearsing Cartesian dualism, note that it is precisely human consciousness that allows us to legislate for how we should better organise our relationship with the natural world. It also allows us so much progress and scientific innovation, so necessary to much in the Bill and vital to post-Covid prosperity and health.

Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee, Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee

My Lords, I listened to that speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley, with great interest. It was a Second Reading speech for the animal sentience Bill, but I do not know that it argues against any of these amendments, which are just about avoiding the use of animal testing except as a last resort. I do not see that contribution as entirely relevant to the Bill, but I am sure it will be repeated in that other Second Reading later in the year.

I take a particular interest in UK REACH because, when I had the privilege of chairing the EU Environment Sub-Committee, we did a number of reports on REACH. Of course, it is not UK REACH at all; it is called that, but it is actually “GB REACH” because Northern Ireland is still part of the single market. UK REACH does not apply to the Province.

With that clarification, I welcome the speeches of all the noble Baronesses and was very pleased to add my name to the first amendment. However, I want to come to something a little deeper and test the Minister on it. We can talk about animal testing being a last resort but also change the bar of where that last resort is. That is probably far more important than this amendment, although I support it absolutely. Duplication of this testing is necessary because of the existence of UK REACH. Given the hard Brexit that we had and the decision to come out of the single market, we had no alternative. Even if we had wanted it, the EU Commission and Mr Barnier would not have liked or allowed it. However, that will cost British business—this is undisputed by the Government—£10 billion, or something like that.

Defra was totally unprepared. The Secretary of State in front of that sub-committee was unaware of Defra’s responsibilities in this area until quite late, hence the good questions about the preparedness of the HSE, its staffing and ability to make the right choices.

Another thing that did not work out through the trade and co-operation agreement was that there was no agreement within it, at that time, to share information that was confidential between companies so that UK REACH could fill its database and operate effectively. This meant de facto that reregistration had to happen not just for UK businesses but for EU and non-EU third country imports.

As this is fundamental to avoid ever getting to a last resort, can the Minister say how far the Government have gone towards agreeing with the Commission and EU REACH about sharing the information on the databases between the two systems? If we solve that, we do not have such a problem in terms of animal welfare.

There is another issue, which is not often raised, around divergence. Clearly, when we left the single market regime entirely at the beginning of this year, we had similar regulations for chemicals. There was not an issue of divergence. But as soon as we start to diverge, it is not just UK companies that will have to reregister chemicals and test them—the 27 member states of the European Union will have to start complying with UK REACH to register their products here. That may cause animal testing of these chemicals again.

Can the Minister tell me where we are on government policy on divergence between UK REACH and EU REACH? How do the Government intend to mitigate the risk that there will be additional testing, let alone the huge costs to the chemical supply chains of that divergence? Those are fundamental to changing the bar in terms of the problem of last resort.

It is obvious that we need to have a last resort. I do not disagree with some of what the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, says, but we are trying to minimise the incidences of animal testing there are now and will be in the future. I look forward to hearing from the Minister, particularly about how we can make this situation far better through how we diverge—if we still intend to diverge—and how we share information between the two systems to makes second tests unnecessary.

Photo of Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 9:30 pm, 28th June 2021

My Lords, this debate was always going to raise great passions and I understand the different views on each side of the debate. I thank noble Lords for their contributions, and reassure the noble Baronesses, Lady Hayman of Ullock and Lady Jones of Whitchurch, that the Government agree that the operation of UK REACH should be transparent and accountable.

This is why under Clause 29(3) the OEP may give advice to a Minister on any proposed changes to environmental law, including any relevant amendments to the REACH regulation. This advice would be published and the OEP could comment if it thought the Government were seeking to inappropriately amend a protected provision. The Bill protects key provisions relating to the fundamental principles of REACH. I urge noble Lords to look at the very long list in Schedule 20 on page 250 of the Bill. I am sure they have done; this is explicitly outlined.

The Government will not change what REACH sets out to achieve, including a high level of protection of human health and the environment, which is set out in Article 1. Any breach of these provisions’ protected status could be subject to legal challenge, including by the OEP. In addition, any proposed amendment to the REACH regulation must be consulted on, ensuring transparency in the process. Therefore, the Government do not consider this amendment to be necessary.

I turn to Amendment 289, also tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch. I hope it reassures the noble Baroness to know that the aims of this amendment are already achieved in Article 117 of REACH, which sets up a rolling programme of reports. Although it is not a protected provision, it is part of UK REACH and it requires reports from the Health and Safety Executive and the Secretary of State in the operation of REACH every five years, starting in 2022 and 2023 respectively. The Health and Safety Executive must publish a report on the operation of UK REACH by April 2022. The Secretary of State must then publish a general report by April 2023. These duties then recur every five years. The Secretary of State’s report must cover the Health and Safety Executive, as the UK agency, and progress towards the development of alternative test methods, including funding provided for that purpose.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, asked about the duplication of testing—as indeed did a number of noble Lords. The Government are very keen to avoid the need for duplication or repeats of animal tests carried out for the purposes of EU REACH. That is why we will recognise the validity of data generated by any animal testing already done. Industry and the Health and Safety Executive must follow the “last resort” principle, so any proposal to carry out an animal test must be given rigorous scrutiny before it goes ahead. Before developing a new alternative for testing for a particular hazard, it is necessary to see whether one is even feasible. An alternative then needs to be developed and scientifically validated. This is done through the OECD to encourage the widest adoption.

On the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, the Government share her aim of avoiding unnecessary animal testing, which is why we have enshrined the “last resort” principle as a protected provision in Schedule 20 to the Bill.

On Amendments 277 and 282 specifically, the concept of “read across” from one chemical to a similar one is already encouraged and widely practised in REACH, but it needs to be considered in each case whether it is appropriate and not applied in a blanket manner. For example, reading across from a less to a more dangerous chemical could result in risks to human health or the environment going unidentified. The Bill ensures that amendments to UK REACH are carefully considered through consultation, drawing on the scientific expertise in the Health and Safety Executive and acting with the consent of the devolved Administrations on devolved matters. The Government believe that we should follow those good practices right from the beginning.

On Amendment 281, the powers in Schedule 20 to the Bill to amend UK REACH would enable such targets to be built if that was felt to be appropriate. Any amendments would have to be consulted on and consistent with the aims and principles of UK REACH, as set out in Article 1. The Government consider that this would be the better route if we concluded that targets were desirable.

There is also an important practical issue. There is an accepted scientific process for developing new test methods. Before developing a new alternative for testing of a particular hazard, as I said, it is necessary to see whether one is even feasible. The alternative then needs to be developed and scientifically validated. This process is done through the OECD to encourage the widest adoption.

On Amendment 296, the Government agree that the HSE, as the UK REACH agency, must operate in a transparent manner, including on matters connected to animal welfare. That is why the general duty in Article 109 to adopt rules about transparency has been included among the protected provisions listed in this schedule. But the Government do not believe it would be appropriate to use the protected provisions to freeze the detailed processes that REACH lays down, such as the publication and consultation arrangements contained in Article 40(2).

Similarly, on Amendment 294, Article 13 already contains the powers we need to amend the REACH annexes to replace animal tests with alternatives where appropriate, and the Government do not think it would be sensible to freeze those processes by fixing them in primary legislation.

On Amendment 295, the Government agree with the aim that companies should share data on chemicals to avoid duplicate animal testing and to reduce costs. However, the articles affected by this amendment contain prescriptive detail, such as the speed at which companies should pass information to each other. Again, the Government believe we should continue to be flexible and not remove that possibility by including them as protected provisions.

Finally, regarding Amendment 297, while it may be appropriate to amend the REACH annexes in the future to follow evolving scientific consensus on animal testing, the power to amend them is already contained within REACH itself. It is therefore unnecessary to add an overlapping power in the Bill.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, asked me about the resource adequacy of the HSE. It has 130 extra staff and the Environment Agency has had considerable increases in its resources. Defra continues to add resources to both. Probably one demonstration that that resource is adequate is that 9,000 grandfathered registrations have already been notified on to the UK system and 5,000 chemical substances are on it so far. The next deadline is 300 days, which is 28 October, when chemicals not manufactured in Great Britain would come on to the system. I think the consensus is that progress has been even better than we expected.

On enforcement and oversight, UK members of the European Chemicals Agency’s committees frequently pressed the agency to be more rigorous in avoiding the use of animal tests, and we shall work with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure good enforcement of that principle within UK REACH. I add that the use of cell cultures has grown hugely in the past few years and taken over some of the primary testing of animals. Most animal testing is now restricted to medical research and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, stated, it is a strongly regulated market; you no longer see beagles forced to smoke cigarettes. Also, the cost of keeping animals, fortunately, makes keeping them for testing almost prohibitive, in many circumstances.

It always makes me anxious coming to the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, because I know what a specialist he is in this field and have read a number of his contributions to SI debates in the past. On his first point, although EU REACH still applies to Northern Ireland, and he is absolutely right that the domestic REACH system regulates the Great Britain market, it also contains some provisions that apply to Northern Ireland businesses to facilitate their access to Great Britain.

On chemicals and the EU trade and co-operation agreement, the Government welcome the friendly co-operation the EU and UK have had on chemicals regulation, which the chemicals annexe will support. The UK’s proposal for a chemicals annexe included an arrangement to share REACH registration data. We worked closely with industry in the UK and EU in developing this proposal but, unfortunately, it was not possible to reach agreement in this area. As the noble Lord will understand, the EU was not prepared to discuss the UK’s data-sharing ask.

UK REACH will retain the fundamental approach and key principles of EU REACH, and the Government are keeping the transition as simple as possible. We have extended the deadlines for businesses to provide all the registration data needed to comply with UK REACH. In trying to minimise the costs and burdens on chemicals businesses, we have developed these grace-period provisions, grandfathering and downstream user import notifications to minimise disruption to businesses and supply chains. We will keep all these timeframes under review. On the TCA, we asked to share information between companies, but this was not included, as the noble Lord will know. On that basis, I ask noble Lords to withdraw or not move their amendments.

Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

I have received one request to speak after the Minister from the noble Lord, Lord Teverson.

Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee, Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee

I thank the noble Baroness for that excellent reply and information but, as we are in Committee, I would like to press the Government on their current view of divergence in regulation, because it has a huge effect on this industry. I also want to take this time to correct myself, in that the cost to the industry is £1 billion and not £10 billion—so we have already saved £9 billion this evening.

Photo of Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I think the current estimate of costs is actually significantly less than £1 billion. I have come to the exhaustive end of my notes on that specific question so, if the noble Lord does not mind, I will write to him.

Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 9:45 pm, 28th June 2021

I thank all noble Lords who have taken the trouble to take part in this debate. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, and the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for their support for our amendment and stress again our support for theirs. This is an important issue and it is good that we have been able to work together on it. I was pleased that the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, mentioned the importance of non-animal technologies and those that are in development; we need to push further on this issue.

As the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said, the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, was in many ways not particularly relevant to the amendments, but I want to say a few things about it. I do not understand why it is wrong to have strict regulation of animal testing and I cannot believe that anybody would support unnecessary duplicate testing, whatever their position on the issue; I agree with her that we do not need unnecessary bureaucracy. The amendment talks about enforcement if protected provisions are seen to have been breached. Why would you want to vote against that? Why is it not right that breaches of protected provisions should be enforced?

It is not a binary decision to be for animal welfare or for human welfare. I am for both, and I hope that everybody would be for both. Let us not get into an argument that you cannot have animal welfare if you are going to have human health; that is just a nonsense.

I thank the Minister for her very thorough response on what is quite a complicated issue. I also feel for her in responding to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, as he has so much knowledge in this area. However, there are still some questions to be answered and I would like time to consider her quite detailed reassurances on this matter. For now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 97 withdrawn.

Clause 22, as amended, agreed.

Clause 23 agreed.

Clause 24: Guidance on the OEP’s enforcement policy and functions

Amendments 98 to 100 not moved.

Clause 24 agreed.

Clauses 25 and 26 agreed.

Clause 27: Monitoring and reporting on environmental improvement plans and targets