House of Commons,
London, SW1A 0AA
Re: Upcoming revision of Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (Am. 2012)
I am writing to ask if you would please support the repeal of the secrecy clause, Section 24, contained in the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (Am.2012), which the Government announced a need to review and is soon to open forpublic consultation.
I am concerned about the use of 4 million animals in research in the UK last year, the highest total in 20 years, despite a commitment by this Government to cut the number of animal experiments. I would simply like to see greater transparency and public accountability about the nature of animal research and the justification for use of animals.
Greater transparency on just the technical details of proposals to use animals in research would allow for wider scientific scrutiny and, in some instances, suggestions for advanced non-animal methods or a different source of the information required. This would assist in avoiding duplication, or, in certain cases, a decision that the animal research is not valid for human comparison.
Section 24 currently prevents the release of any information, which I understand from the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) is at odds with the commitments to transparency and public accountability within the EU Directive 2010/63/EU on animals in research, which has been recently been incorporated into UK law.
There is no need to have a complete ban on all information from laboratories – the Freedom of Information Act is already in place and works for government, courts, the police, local government, the NHS and other bodies.Repeal of Section 24 would not compromise health or safety, protection of confidential information or intellectual property, because the Freedom of Information Act 2000 already provides for the protection of personal information and confidential information.
Furthermore, the NAVS points out that in order to scrutinise the scientific robustness of proposals to use animals in research, only technical details are required and personal information is unnecessary.
There is now broad support for repeal of Section 24 of this Act – in a NAVS parliamentary briefing on this issue, it is noted that both the House of Lords Select Committee and the Animal Procedures Committee have supported such a move. Home Office Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach said in a Ministerial Statement in July: “The requirements of Section 24 are now out of step with our policy on openness and transparency and with the approach taken in other legislation, such as the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The solution we develop must improve the overall transparency surrounding research using animals, to create an environment which fosters informed debate leading to greater public trust, and also must protect personal identities and intellectual property".
I hope that you will agree and support greater transparency and accountability over the use of animals in research and look forward to receiving your response.