Content Header Mask

Broken Promises

Campaign: The Government is failing on its pledge to reduce animal experiments.  Join our campaign calling for the Government to keep its promise.


On Friday 7th February the Government released its strategy: “Working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research”. The BUAV is extremely disappointed that stronger measures have not been introduced to reduce the numbers of animals used in experiments.  The number of experiments carried out now stands at the highest level since the current regime was introduced in 1986. In the three year period, since the Programme for Government, the numbers have continued to rise, with a peak of over four million animals used in 2012. Read our latest news about this missed opportunity here.

The Government is failing on its pledge to work to reduce the use of animals in research. This is an issue where there is strong public concern yet the latest statistics show that animal experiments in the UK are at an all-time high since 1986 (the introduction of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act in Great Britain). Successive governments have failed animals in laboratories. Join the BUAV’s call to the Coalition Government to honour its pledge and reduce the number of animals suffering in cruel tests in the UK.

When the Coalition Government took office in 2010 it’s Programme for Government included the pledge to “work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research.” This was included after strong lobbying from the BUAV, and we have been leading the way in holding the Government to account ever since.

However, the latest statistics from the Home Office show that despite this pledge the number of animals being used in experiments is now more than 3.7 million, the highest figure for 25 years. Thousands of dogs, non-human primates, rabbits and other animals continue to suffer in laboratories around Great Britain every day.

Yet the Government’s recently published Mid-Term review seemed to suggest the reduction pledge has been shelved. Although the Government has stated the work continues, the Home Office, which is in charge of regulating animal experiments in Great Britain, has described the pledge as ‘ambitious’, which in this case we hope is not  political-speak for ‘unachievable.’ 

There is clearly a will to make progress on this issue. A recent Government-funded survey found that public backing for animal experiments has fallen and over 200 MPs from all parties have shown support for a reduction in animal experiments by signing a BUAV-backed Early Day Motion. Sadly however, it appears that the Government remains unmoved to both public and political concerns.  The BUAV urges the Government to listen to the UK public and keep its promise to reduce animal experiments.


BUAV proposals

The BUAV has set out a roadmap for reduction with five clear proposals to the Government which would ensure a significant drop in the use of animals in experiments. This was launched at our Parliamentary Reception in November 2012:

1. End Government approval of experiments on cats and dogs 

Every year hundreds of cats and thousands of dogs are subjected to cruel and unnecessary experiments in laboratories in the United Kingdom.  The Government can end this practice without legislation by issuing a policy statement.

2. Set up as a commission to review GM animals

Establish a commission of scientists and animal protection groups to examine the genetic modification of animals for research purposes; advise on whether to ban the practice or set criteria defining the limits, and set a moratorium on new licences until this has reported.

3. Ban the trade in non-human primates

Many primates used in UK laboratories are imported from outside the EU. The BUAV has shown how these highly intelligent animals suffer incredible stress and suffering before even arriving in a laboratory and uncovered details of shocking treatment at overseas centres which supply the UK

4. End the secrecy surrounding animal experiments

Animal experiments are shrouded in secrecy. The BUAV has long campaigned for Freedom of Information so that the public can have an informed, mature and open debate on the issue.

Despite making a detailed submission to the Home Office in 2010 we have yet to receive an official response and meanwhile the number of animals needlessly suffering in laboratories continues to rise.

5. Stop non-medical experiments

This would ban experiments for which the researcher cannot convincingly suggest a way that this experiment could benefit human health.

6. Ban the most extreme suffering

This would only affect 2% of project licences but would save animals from the most extreme experiments including electric shocks to induce ‘learned helplessness’ or being forced to ‘exercise’ to exhaustion.



What the BUAV is doing

The BUAV is calling for the Government to keep its promise to the UK public and reduce animal experiments.  We have been holding the Government to account ever since the pledge was made in 2010, including:

  • Hosting a Parliamentary reception to put the issue on the political agenda

  • Delivering our roadmap for reduction to David Cameron at Number 10 Downing Street

  • Holding regular meetings with Home Office officials to press for a clear reduction strategy

  • Working with MPs to table Early Day Motions which have received the support of more than 200 MPs

  • Drafting Parliamentary Questions for MPs to ensure that the issue remains on the political agenda

  • Working with Henry Smith MP to secure a 90 minute debate to discuss Government policy on animal experiments

  • Engaging our supporters and the public by asking them to write to their MPs about this issue. 

Over the coming months we will be increasing the pressure on the Government to turn its broken promise into action to make a difference for the millions of animals in UK laboratories.


What you can do

Please join our call on the government to keep its promise and reduce animal experiments: