Animal Testing at Porton Down

Thank you for your email about animal testing at Porton Down. 

With regards to your request that I sign EDM 2113, I made a decision when I became your Member of Parliament that I would not sign Early Day Motions, even if I agreed with them in principle or spirit. I am also now a Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party who, by convention, do not sign EDMs as doing so is likely to breach the Ministerial Code's rules on collective responsibility.

The work done by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down helps deliver the latest scientific and technological advantages for the UK’s defence and security. This includes the means to tackle chemical and biological attacks as well as injuries from conventional warfare. I know it is not the answer you were hoping to receive, but the Government maintains that these problems unfortunately cannot currently be addressed without the use of animals in research. 

However I have been assured that, quite rightly, there are rules in place to make sure that the testing of these animals meets certain ethical standards. Experimental procedures have to be in line with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which aims to ensure the suffering of the animals is minimised and requires the Dstl to report to the Home Office how many animals are used in research every year. When research programmes are being planned, Dstl must seek experimental procedures which either replace the use of animals, reduce the number of animals used, or refine how the animals are treated. 

While I appreciate that you will be disappointed to hear the use of animals is still considered necessary for this research, I am reassured that Dstl is making efforts to keep its levels of animal testing under control, while still helping contribute to the security and defence capability of the UK.