A number of constituents have expressed their concerns to me about the use of animals in research. I share their concerns that the number of animal experiments has increased in recent years. As official figures show, between 2013 and 2015 the total number of procedures completed on animals in Great Britain rose from 4.12 million to 4.14 million.
The Conservative Government overruled the local council and the Planning Inspectorate to allow B&K Universal to build a facility to breed beagles for use in animal experiments. I understand that an application for Judicial Review in relation to this decision was rejected by the High Court in June 2016.
Successive Governments have supported animal testing in certain clearly defined medical areas. Under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, a licence to undertake animal experiments is only granted where there is no alternative research technique and the expected benefits outweigh any possible adverse effects.
However, it is vital that there is careful analysis of the scientific merits of animal testing. I believe that where there is scientific evidence that alternative tests can demonstrate the safety or effectiveness of medicines to the same or greater extent than animal testing, then these should be used. I would like to see the volume of tests on animals cut considerably.
I am proud that previous Labour Governments have achieved much to end the cruel and unnecessary suffering of animals, including banning the use of great apes in animal experiments in 1997 and securing an end to cosmetic testing on animals in 1998. I believe it is vital there is greater transparency around animal testing and that concerted efforts must be made to reduce animal suffering wherever possible.