The use of animals in scientific research within the UK is regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). Section 24 of ASPA provides for the protection of information received in confidence that is provided in connection with the Home Office’s regulatory activities under the 1986 Act. The current provisions under Section 24 mean that the Home Office cannot release any information received in confidence under ASPA, even when the provider has no objection to its disclosure. Section 24 is incompatible with the government’s policies on openness and transparency and the central principles of the Freedom of Information Act (2000). The Coalition government has committed to a review of Section 24 as part of the Coalition commitment titled ‘Working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research’.
The primary objective of the review of Section 24 is to increase openness and transparency in order to assist public understanding of the use of animals in scientific procedures, whilst not putting people or property at risk or disclosing genuinely commercially confidential information and intellectual property on which UK jobs depend. This consultation paper sets out the government’s proposals for the review and indicates our preferred option. Initial stakeholder engagement has assisted in the development of proposed policy options which are the subject of this consultation. Following the consultation, we will analyse the responses and public as government response to the consultation. We aim to progress quickly, finalising a chosen option and amending ASPA through Parliamentary process if required.