Transposing the European Directive on animal research into UK law

Transposing the European Directive on animal research into UK

Status: Ongoing

The Academy is working together with partner organisations to provide advice to the Home Office, as revisions to the UK's legislation which regulates animal research are implemented.

The European Directive on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes came into force in September 2010. The Directive is intended to harmonise animal research standards and practices across Europe, and makes provisions for many aspects of research involving animals.

This process involves the alignment of the UK’s existing legislation (the Animals Scientific Procedure Act (1986)) with the new Directive. The Animals in Scientific Procedures Division of the Home Office are leading this work. The Home Office ran a consultation on options for the Directive’s transposition from June to September 2011. 

In 2011, the Academy responded to the consultation (available to view here) and also contributed to a cross-sector response by the UK Bioscience Sector Coalition, which comprises the UK's key bioscience organisations involved with the use of animals in scientific and medical research. It represents the perspectives of academia, industry, small and medium enterprises, charities and other research funders, as well as patient and medical groups.

In February 2012, the Academy supported an All Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research meeting to brief Parliamentarians on animal research.

In May 2012, the Government released a Written Ministerial Statement and a report from the Home Office on the findings of the consultation on options for options for the Directive’s transposition. The Academy welcomed this statement and report and the commitment of the Home Office to take into account our recommendations concerning projects involving animals containing human material (ACHM).

In July 2012, the President of the Academy wrote to the Home Office offering further guidance and assistance to the government before the legislation was put before Parliament.

In December 2012, the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (ASPA) 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012 were laid in Parliament. The regulations were unanimously agreed by a committee of MPs after a short debate on the 3 December, and were subsequently passed after a debate in the House of Lords on December 13 and signed into law by the Home Office Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach.

The majority of the provisions in the revised ASPA came into force on the 1 January 2013. The Home Office is now consulting on various documents, which detail how the new legislation will be put into practice.

The Academy is responding to these consultations as part of the UK Bioscience Coalition, which represents the UK's key bioscience organisations involved with the use of animals in scientific and medical research.

Following the transposition of the Directive, the former Animal Procedures Committee, which advised the Home Secretary on matters concerned with ASPA has been replaced with the Animals in Science Committee (ASC). In March 2013, a lay Chair was appointed to the ASC: Dr John Landers, Senior Research Fellow at Oxford's Hertford College and former university lecturer on biological anthropology and historical demography. The ASC announced its membership in June 2013. The Academy has offered support to the ASC in their work advising the Home Office. 

For further information please contact Dylan Williams ([email protected])

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