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Animal Welfare

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set out, with statistical information, the effects of his Department's policies and actions in relation to animal welfare since 2 May 1997. [158903]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are continuing to work to ensure that the highest possible standards of welfare are applied to animals used in scientific procedures and that they are used only where it is fully justified--where the benefits outweigh the costs and where there are no suitable alternatives. To this end we are promoting the fullest application of the 3Rs--the replacement of procedures with others which do not use animals, the reduction of the number of animals used and the refinement of procedures to minimise pain and suffering.

In addition to our commitment to the 3Rs, the other main individual measures this Government have introduced since the election to ensure that animals are used only where fully justified are as follows. We have: secured a voluntary ban on testing cosmetic finished products on animals; increased the budget made available to the Animal Procedures Committee to sponsor research on alternatives by 45 per cent. to £265,000 for 2000-01; banned the use of animals to test alcohol and tobacco products; increased the size of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate from 18 to 21, and recruited seven new inspectors to fill these and other vacancies and recently announced plans to further increase numbers to 33 over the next three years; introduced a requirement that all establishments licensed under the 1986 Animals Scientific Procedures Act have local ethical review processes as a complement to the existing controls under the Act. We are now reviewing those processes to ensure dissemination of best practice; announced our intention never to allow the use of Great Apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, pygmy chimpanzees and orang-utans); announced that licenses for monoclonal antibody production by the ascites method will not be granted other than in exceptional circumstances; and ended the licensing of the LD50 test and of tests for skin corrosivity and phototoxic potential where valid alternatives exist.

The number of scientific procedures in Great Britain in 1999 was nearly 2.66 million--very slightly down on 1998. The number of animals used was 2.57 million, about 24,000 fewer than in 1998. With the exception of 1997 this is the lowest number since 1955.

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The overall reduction in the use of animals reflects the Government's commitment to applying the principles of the 3Rs to all animal testing in the United Kingdom. However, it is very difficult to project the number of animals to be used in future years. Numbers depend on the type of project licence applications that will be made and progress on current project licences, as well as global trends in scientific endeavour.

Other support given to animal welfare includes: bringing forward a Government Bill to address the issue of hunting with dogs; backing a Private Member's Bill which became the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999, a measure aimed at tightening regulation of commercial dog breeding establishments, and issue to local authorities of related detailed guidance; preparation, with the Association of Circus Proprietors, of a code of practice on the care and welfare of animals in travelling circuses; making an Order that allows for an indefinite prohibition of the culling of seals on the east coast of England, which has assisted in the recovery of common seals to pre-1988 numbers when a virus decimated their population--by 1999 their number had risen to 3,600 just 400 down on 1988 numbers.

2 Marsham Street

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date it is planned to start demolishing the old Department of the Environment offices at 2 Marsham Street. [158838]

Mr. Straw: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave my hon. Friend, the Member for Regent's Park and Kensington, North (Ms Buck), on 28 July 2000, Official Report, column 1167W. Contract negotiations for developing the Marsham Street site as a public private partnership project are currently in progress with Anne's Gate Property plc, the preferred bidder. The City of Westminster has resolved in February to grant detailed planning consent subject to completion of a planning agreement which is currently being negotiated. Provided final contract terms can be agreed between the Home Office and the preferred bidder, a start on demolishing the old Department of the Environment offices is planned later this year.

Justice and Home Affairs Council

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the Council Working Parties on Justice and Home Affairs, indicating (a) the number of meetings since 2000 and (b) the items on the agenda for each. [158757]

Mrs. Roche: The Treaty on European Union established the "Article 36 Committee", a co-ordinating committee of senior officials in the field of police co-operation and judicial co-operation in criminal matters. The Committee of Permanent Representatives has also approved, most recently in 1999, a list of working parties and committees in the Justice and Home Affairs sector. In addition, a number of the working parties established by the Permanent Representatives Committee in the General Affairs sector deal with issues with a justice and home affairs dimension.

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Since the start of the Swedish Presidency on 1 January 2001, there have been 176 meetings of these working groups. To provide an itemised agenda for each meeting would involve disproportionate cost. However, the agendas can be obtained individually from the Swedish Presidency website at "".

List of Working Parties:

Protection (excluding Schengen Information System)

Departmental Policies (Battersea)

Mr. Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on the Battersea constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [158761]

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Mr. Charles Clarke: The Home Office is working to build a safe, just and tolerant society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced, and the protection and security of the public are maintained. Detailed information on the impact of Home Office policies across the full range of responsibilities is set out in Home Office Annual Reports. A copy of the most recent report, Home Office Annual Report 2000-01, is available in the Library. Information on recorded crime and policing is also published. 'Recorded Crime England and Wales, 12 months to September 2000' and 'Police Service Strength England and Wales, 30 September 2000' can be found in the Library. The recorded crime statistics include information on recorded crime by Basic Command Unit and Crime and Disorder partnerships.

The impact of Home Office policies and actions is not normally examined by constituency and the statistics which the Department collects, such as recorded crime, cannot be matched in the way requested although set out are examples relating to the Battersea constituency or the immediate locality.

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More generally, all of the policies of the Home Office will impact on the residents of Battersea to a greater or lesser extent. For example: 376 Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships have been established; racial harassment and racially motivated crimes have been made criminal offences by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998; the asylum backlog has been cut from 103,495 at the end of January 2000 to 49,690 by the end of February 2001; and good progress is being made in reducing the incidence of fire deaths in England and Wales. They have dropped from 605 in 1997 to 534 in 1999.

Information on the Home Office and its policies is also published on its website

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