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" THE SECRECY CLAUSE "

What is Section 24 and why we are asking for it to be repealed.

 

Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) concerns the protection of confidential information. Under Section 24, the Home Office cannot release any information received in confidence under ASPA, even if the provider of

the information has no objection to its disclosure. This prevents the sharing of licensing assessments, the content of licensing applications, inspector visit reports and review papers.

 

This is incompatible with the government’s policies on openness and transparency, and the central principles of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI).  The Freedom of Information Act allows for public access to information held by public authorities and is predated by ASPA by 14 years.

 

Repealing Section 24 and allowing access to the information currently protected would allow external scientific bodies and welfare groups, amongst other relevant organisations, the opportunity to scrutinise the proposed procedures for animal use before they are conducted.  This could lead to a reduction in animal use as there would be more opportunity to identify whether procedures are duplicates or scientifically unnecessary.  This would also create a push for human-relevant, non-animal methods, as those who work in these areas would be able to suggest these methods prior to licenses being given and

animals being used.

 

The government in 2014 published a delivery plan outlining the commitment to “working to reduce the use of animals in Scientific research”. In the plan the government committed to a public consultation for the review of Section 24.

 

The consultation ended on the 13th of June 2014, and on the 14th July 2014, Norman Baker stated “we are actively analysing responses in preparation for pursuing legislation change.  We are already exploring the use of an order under Section 75 of the FOI Act to amend or repeal Section 24 of ASPA.  My intention is that any legislative change that we decide to make will be in force by May 2015.

 

Despite this, as of August 2023, no results have been published.

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NATUREWATCH FOUNDATION

This is a very interesting read

from Nature watch.org on the

transparency of  Animal testing.

CLICK HERE

History of Governmental Reviews

 

The first account of an MP questioning Section 24 post-FOI was in 2001. Ms. Candy Atherton, Labour MP for Falmouth and Camborne, asked when a decision is expected on the changes to Section 24 of ASPA. This was followed by a review of the section in 2002. The review concluded that the section should be retained for the time being but may be re-reviewed in 2 years. Between 2004 and 2014, several MPs asked for an update on whether repealing the section would be reconsidered. Each time this was asked, it was answered in the same manner, stating that there were no plans to review the repeal plans.

 Between 2014 and 2020, several MPs asked when, or if, the results would be published. Each response stated that “the consultation results would be published in due course”, despite the number of years that had passed.There have been 2 EDM motions brought to parliament one on the 28th October 2013 and the other on the 16th June 2014. A public petition was also started on GOV.UK in 2018, calling for Section 24 to be abolished, however, the petition only received 1831 signatures.  

A report was brought to the House of Lords by the select committee of Animals in Scientific procedures where they stated:

9.1  We consider that the availability to the public of regularly updated, good quality information on what animal experiments are done and why, is vital to create an atmosphere in which the issue of animal experimentation can be discussed productively.

Publication below:-

Heading 4https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200102/ldselect/ldanimal/150/15012.htm

It begs the question why  has the Section 24 not been repealed if Mp's agree in transparency and openness. and to repeal the Section 24.

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