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Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: 2002 Statistics

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We wish to announce that the 2002 statistics of scientific procedure on living animals in Great Britain will be published as a Command Paper on 18 July. Copies will be placed in the House Library in the usual way.

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The number of scientific procedures licensed under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and started in 2002 was just over 2.73 million, a rise of about 110,000 (4.2 per cent) on 2001. This increase is not seen as beyond the bounds of normal year-on-year fluctuations, and the Government have no anxieties or concerns arising from the detail of the statistics.

A familiar pattern is evident. Mice, rats and other rodents were used in the majority of procedures—84 per cent of the total. Most of the remainder used birds (5 per cent of all procedures), and fish (7 per cent). Dogs, cats, horses and non-human primates, afforded special protection by the Act, were collectively used in fewer than 1 per cent of the procedures.

There was a slight decrease in the proportion of procedures using genetically normal animals (65 per cent as against 67 per cent in 2001), and a small increase in the proportion of procedures using those which had been genetically modified (26 per cent as against 24 per cent in 2001). This continues a trend apparent in recent years, though the variations are on this occasion minimal. It is worth recording that only one in three of all the recorded procedures involving genetically modified animals were for purposes other than breeding.

Non-toxicological procedures accounted for about 82 per cent of those carried out in 2002, with the main areas of use being for immunological studies and pharmaceutical research and development. Of the procedures for toxicological purposes, 61 per cent were for pharmacological safety and efficacy studies, and most were performed to conform with regulatory requirements.

About 40 per cent of all procedures used some form of anaesthesia to alleviate the severity of the interventions. For many of the remaining procedures the use of anaesthesia would have increased the animal welfare cost of the procedure.

Over 99 per cent of procedures carried out on animals listed in Schedule 2 to the 1986 Act involved use of animals acquired from designated sources in the United Kingdom.

We should point out in relation to the statistics that the Home Office, as regulatory authority under the 1986 Act, has no control over the overall amount of animal research and testing which takes place. We do nevertheless ensure, in carrying out our licensing function, that the provisions of the Act are rigorously applied in each programme of work. In particular we always insist in every case upon full application of the 3Rs—replacement of animals where possible, and where they must be used, reduction to a minimum of their numbers and refinement of the procedures to minimise suffering. To that end, all licence applications are carefully assessed by the professional Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate, which then closely monitors work in progress to ensure compliance with licence authorities, and with the related codes of practice concerning standards of care and accommodation for the animals.

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Asylum Support Adjudicators

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to review the pay for Asylum Support Adjudicators.[HL4152]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Following a request, in 2002, from the Chief Asylum Support Adjudicator for an increase in the asylum support adjudicators' (ASA) salary scale, we undertook a review in partnership with PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The review found there to be a justifiable linkage between the ASAs' salaries and Group 7 of the judicial scale, which the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) accepts. Therefore, with effect from April 2003, the Home Secretary will consider ASA salaries in the light of that linkage and the annual recommendations of the SSRB.

Assets Recovery Agency: Annual Report 2002–03

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to publish the first annual report of the Assets Recovery Agency.[HL4154]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I am pleased to announce that the first annual report of the Assets Recovery Agency will be laid before Parliament on 8 September 2003.

The report is the first by the agency and covers the financial year 2002–03. The agency became operational on 24 February 2003, and the report covers the setting up of the agency and the first few weeks of its work. The next report will include an assessment of how the agency has carried out its first business plan, which was published on 9 July.

The agency is already making use of its powers, and has obtained several orders to freeze suspected criminal assets.

The establishment of the agency, with extensive powers to investigate and recover criminal assets, shows the Government's commitment to taking the profit out of crime.

Voluntary and Community Sector: Government Relations Compact

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to publish the report of the annual meeting to review the compact on relations between government and the voluntary and community sector.[HL4155]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are today placing in the Library of the Houses copies of the report of the fourth annual meeting to review the compact on relations between government and the voluntary and community sector on 28 April 2003.

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The meeting witnessed the momentum achieved in driving the compact as the framework guiding the relationship between government and the voluntary and community sector. There was record attendance at this year's meeting. Local government was represented for the first time, reflecting the need to focus on implementing the compact at local level. We need to work together with the voluntary and community sector to achieve real change in the way the sector contributes to the delivery of better public services.

Housing: Local Authority Subsidy

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For each local housing authority in England that administers its own housing stock, what is the average housing subsidy or negative housing subsidy per dwelling, and what are these figures as a proportion of the average rent.[HL3985]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): A table that provides data for 2002–03, the latest year for which reliable data are available, has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

CAFCASS: Annual Report and Accounts 2002–03

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service's annual report and accounts for 2002–03.[HL4084]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) has laid before Parliament its annual report and accounts for 2002–03. Copies of the annual report and accounts for 2002–03 have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Magistrates' Courts: Annual Report 2002–03

Lord Clarke of Hampstead asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish an annual report on the work of the magistrates' courts in England and Wales.[HL4090]

Lord Filkin: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Christopher Leslie, has made a statement today in another place announcing the publication of the annual report relating to the 2002–03 business returns provided by magistrates' courts in England and Wales and that copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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This is the first time that this report has been published and it heralds a new era in the development of the 42 separate Magistrates' Courts Committee (MCC) areas towards the planned unification with each other and with the Court Service agency. One key matter in the report relates to the enforcement of fines that have been in the full control of magistrates' courts since April 2001. He addressed the matter of the poor collection rates in a written Ministerial Statement made on 25 June (Official Report, Commons, col. 40WS) and set out the seven-point action plan that he is pursuing vigorously in order to improve upon the current performance that has been achieved by magistrates' courts and their agents.

In other areas the magistrates' courts have maintained a high level of service during a demanding year. They have supported and participated in a number of criminal justice initiatives, including the street crime initiative in the largest 10 areas, extended court sitting hours pilots in London and Manchester and full involvement in the development of the local criminal justice boards. This was during a period when there were considerable additional demands on them. These included the roll-out of new computer hardware, new data demands from across the government service and the MCCs full involvement in the work being undertaken to facilitate the new planned agency. The latter will bring together the 42 currently independent Magistrates' Courts Committee areas and the Court Service agency into one unified courts administration and considerable work is being done by all involved to ensure a successful outcome.

Particular successes have been in supporting the achievement of the persistent young offender timeliness target of 71 days, reducing it from 142 days and achieving a national average from 2002–03 of 69 days. The active use of courts has also increased from 62.6 per cent to 67.3 per cent in 2002–03, which in part reflects the continuing cross-agency approach which means that magistrates' courts are being used by other agencies such as the Crown Court and tribunals.

In particular, the department is leading an initiative, the case preparation project, which involves the other agencies in the criminal justice system and which is part of the work looking at what can be done to reduce the number of ineffective trials and improve the service to victims and witnesses.

Overall, there have been a number of successes but the work that has been announced in relation to the enforcement of fines is particularly important to ensure that there is confidence in the criminal justice system and proper implementation of judicial decisions.

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