The UK should lead the world with high animal welfare standards and that we must aspire to ensure that no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation. We must also commit ourselves to driving up standards and practice in line with the most recent advances and understanding.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is licensed by the Home Office to conduct the Ministry of Defence’s in-house research involving the use of animals.

The Government says that most of the animals used at Dstl are employed in the development of new vaccines, treatments or medical procedures. It notes that the Ministry of Defence does not conduct animal experiments for the development or testing of offensive weapons, and the Home Office does not grant licences for those purposes.

The Government says the Dstl has an active programme to minimise the use of animals in experiments, in accordance with the principles of the three Rs-reduction, refinement and replacement. Moreover, every procedure undertaken at Dstl operates in strict accordance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

I welcome that testing practices have improved and advanced greatly over recent years on animal experiments more widely. However, I remain concerned at the lack of transparency around project licence applications, as well as the continued permissibility of ‘severe’ suffering as defined in UK law.

We should consider a comprehensive review of animal testing, with a view to improving practice, limiting animal suffering and increasing transparency. The Labour Party has consulted on its draft Animal Welfare Plan, which includes a proposal for a stringent review of defined areas in regulatory testing with an aim to identify and eliminate avoidable tests.

The draft plan further proposes ending the permitting of ‘severe’ suffering as defined in UK legislation within an achievable timeframe and contributing to the development and validation of non-animal research methods and technologies and encouraging research in the field.¬†You can view the draft Animal Welfare Plan here

Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views, which I will continue to bear in mind.

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