Experiments on animals
Sir, We, the undersigned, wish to express our grave misgivings about
the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill now before the House of
Commons. We wonder whether it is a question of history repeating itself.
In March, 1876, Cardinal Manning, the Archbishop of Westminster, the
Earl of Shaftsbury and a number of other gentlemen formed a deputation
to the Home Office urging the Government to introduce a Bill to restrict
experiments on living animals. Later the bishops of Winchester,
Gloucester and Bristol took an active part in the movement.
Within six months a Bill was introduced and became law in August of
that year. Subsequently Cardinal Manning and many of the others publicly
expressed great dissatisfaction and even regret that the Bill had become
I believe, not only has that legislation been ineffectual, but that
we have been entirely hoodwinked and the law has not been carried into
effect . . . I only wish that we had the power legally to prohibit
altogether the practice of vivisection (Cardinal Manning, 1881)
We applaud the Government's honouring of its 1979 election promise to
update the legislation in this field, but we believe the Bill in its
present form is seriously inadequate. In particular, it fails to deal
adequately with inflicting serious pain on animals. It continues to
allow experiments for trivial purposes, such as non-medical cosmetics.
It increases the secrecy which has too often surrounded the subject
in the past by a clause which threatens even imprisonment to those who
reveal confidential information about animal experiments. It does not
give sufficient power to the new, advisory committee and does not
provide for a sufficient number of inspectors to supervise the large
number of licensed establishments.
There is a strong swell of public opinion about experimentation on
live animals and we believe that human beings have grave duties towards
their fellow creatures, unable to speak for themselves. As stewards of
creation, we feel a moral duty to concern ourselves in this matter and
we express a strong hope that the Bill at present before Parliament will
be suitably amended.
Until the day comes when experiments on live animals are abandoned we
believe it to be our duty to avoid unnecessary duplication, to seek
alternative procedures, and to abolish or reduce to a minimum the
distress and pain inflicted on animals by scientific experiments.
†Agnellus Andrew, (President, Catholic Study Circle for Animal
†Alan C. Clark,
Letter published in The Times dated February 22, 1986.
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