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Northern Ireland and Scotland call for action on animal testing policy


Scottish and Northern Irish politicians have tabled motions calling for more control over animal experiments. Scottish politicians have called for the UK Government to devolve legislative control to the Scottish Parliament regarding animal research. Northern Ireland already has the power to legislate on animal experiments; however politicians are calling for the Assembly to use its devolved powers to decide its own animal testing policy. Currently, both countries follow Home Office policy which leaves little room for the views of Scottish and Northern Irish citizens’ views to be taken into account when licensing animal experiments.

In Scotland, Scottish National Party MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, John Mason, has tabled a motion calling for a reduction in animal testing or responsibility of legislating for animal experiments to be delegated to the Scottish Government. He said: “The Home Office has already delegated responsibility for animal experiments to the Northern Ireland Executive, so I see no credible reason as to why Scotland should not have similar control of animal testing. If the Prime Minister and the UK Government really does have a ‘respect agenda’ for Scotland, then I am sure the UK Government will show respect and take action or devolve animal testing.”

“Personally I am absolutely opposed to animal testing and, during my time as a Westminster MP, I committed to using no products in my office that were tested on animals. This is still very much the case in my current Parkhead Constituency Office and I am a keen supporter of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and its campaign to end animal testing.

Alliance East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle tabled a motion calling for Northern Ireland to have its own policy on the licensing and regulation of experiments on animals. He said: “We have now had over four years of continuous devolution in Northern Ireland, but we are still just copying and pasting policy from London on certain issues. We should be making our own position on the licensing and regulation of experiments on animals. We should be leaders and not just followers.”

“Any policy that we put together should ensure that research results are shared amongst companies and organisations. This should cut down on the duplication of experiments where animals are needlessly harmed to find information that another organisation already knows.”

“Even though there are no primates currently being used for experiments in Northern Ireland, I think it would send out a strong message that we are not supportive of primates being experimented upon anywhere.”

BUAV Chief Executive, Michelle Thew welcomed these supportive motions: “We support these important motions which we hope will allow for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Scottish Parliament to take people’s views into account and that devolved powers will bw used to take a lead in reducing the use of animals in laboratories in ways that the rest of the UK can follow. Please ask your MSP or MLA to support these important motions for increased control on animal experiments.”