Written Answers. - Experiments on Live Animals.

4.

asked the Minister for Health if, further to the reply of his predecessor on November 1979, he is now in a position to reveal the contents of the report by the Medical Research Council of Ireland regarding the feasibility and practicability of researching alternative techniques without live animals in fields where living animals are still used.

The report of the Medical Research Council indicated that the council do not consider it feasible at present to promote research into alternative techniques to the use of live animals for medical research because of the prohibitive costs involved. The council, however, are keeping themselves informed of developments abroad in these areas of research, and I can assure the Deputy that before a licence is issued for experiments on live animals my Department satisfy themselves that such research cannot be done by alternative methods.

5.

asked the Minister for Health if he will arrange for the statistics relating to experiments performed under the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876, for the current year and future years to include further particulars as to (i) the purpose of the experiments, indicating whether they were for cancer research, drug testing, development of new drugs, diagnosis etc., and (ii) the institutions performing them, indicating whether Government Departments or agencies, local authorities, the Medical Research Council etc., are involved.

My Department are reviewing the statistical information required in connection with the administration of their functions under the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876. The feasibility of obtaining the data suggested by the Deputy will be considered during the review.

6.

asked the Minister for Health the extent to which the substantial drop in the number of experiments on live animals performed in the State during 1979 under the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876 is attributable to the substitution of alternative techniques without animals.

The principal cause of the reduction is attributable to a change in the work programme carried out by the Medical Research Council. This has resulted in research work in a different field which in the initial stages does not require the use of animals.