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Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 15:02 GMT
Lib Dems in animal welfare pledge
Colin Breed and Norman Baker
Mr Breed and Mr Baker say animals have rights too
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to introduce tougher standards to regulate animal experimentation.

The party has promised to set up a new commission to protect animals and to improve standards in research laboratories.

Our manifesto proposals include the creation of an Animal Protection Commission

Norman Baker
It has also proposed increasing funding for research into alternatives to animal experimentation.

The pledges will be included in the party's general election manifesto and follow recent controversy surrounding animal testing.

Party spokesman Norman Baker said the Lib Dems were keen to improve animal protection across the board.

Tougher inspections

Under the plans, research laboratories would face more stringent and regular inspections.

"Our manifesto proposals include the creation of an Animal Protection Commission, headed by a DETR (Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions) minister, to enforce standards in the treatment of animals.

"We will extend the size and powers of the Home Office Inspectorate and encourage more, and more unannounced, inspections of establishments that engage in animal experimentation," said Mr Baker.
Norman Baker
Mr Baker pledged tougher standards for labs

The party also proposed more and better-trained customs officers to crack down on the illegal trade in endangered species.

But Mr Baker stressed that the party did not support direct action against animal research institutions.


Concerns have been growing in policing circles about increasing militancy among animal rights activists.

That threat appeared to be underlined last month when Brian Cass, the manager of the controversial Huntingdon Life Sciences laboratory, was attacked by masked assailants.

Earlier this week, it emerged that two Labour MPs have had to take security precautions after their names were found on an animal rights activists' hit list because they did not support an outright ban on foxhunting.

Mr Baker said: "We are totally opposed to the intimidation of individual employees or MPs.

"That is quite unacceptable. It makes it more difficult to argue for improvements in animal welfare when people are behaving in that way.

"It is beyond belief how somebody who purports to support animal welfare can behave in a way which threatens human welfare.

"You either respect life in all its forms, including human life, or you don't.

The Lib Dem election manifesto will also state that farm animals should be entitled to high welfare standards.

The party's farm spokesman Colin Breed said: "Most farmers have a genuine and personal interest in their animals' welfare.

"But they need to be given the necessary knowledge and support to achieve the best practice.

"BSE and now the foot-and-mouth crisis mean that people are beginning to question how animals are reared."

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See also:

10 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Animal rights activists target MPs
18 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Animal demos may prompt law change
16 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Blair backs animal labs
22 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Campaigners hail fur ban bill
20 Oct 00 | UK Politics
'Care orders' for suffering animals
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