Animal welfare is an area which the SNP takes extremely seriously. The SNP has been vocal in addressing concerns in this area at a UK level and committed in the Scottish Government’s Program for Government to take steps to strengthen animal welfare legislation.
Animal testing and scientific procedures are a significant industry in the UK and are reserved to the UK parliament, with Home Office statistics showing that 3.4 million procedures involving animals took place across the UK in 2019.
UK law currently requires all new medicines to be tested on two animals before being given before being allowed on the market — one rodent and one non-rodent, commonly dogs. Beagles have been used to developed new drugs for serious illnesses in humans — including high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, diabetes and also cancer.
Organisations such as Medical Research Scotland operate under the principles of the Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research namely: Replace the use of animals with alternative methods, where possible; Reduce the number of animals used; and Refine experimental methods and care and attention of animals to achieve the highest welfare standards. Decisions to fund research involving animals are peer reviewed by experts to ensure these principles are followed. Although it ought to be recognised that the burden for compliance to the three Rs relies on an individual company’s decision moreover than adherence to law.
The SNP has consistently called for the UK Government to mandate a rigorous public scientific hearing to reduce unnecessary harm involved in animal experiments and ban this immoral practice pursuing alternatives instead.
SNP MP Lisa Cameron at the Kept Animals Bill Debate on Monday 25th of October where she highlighted the Scarlett Beagle For Life On Earth campaign which is working to end beagle testing and ensure alternatives are available instead of testing on dogs, too many animals suffer in this industry and it is fundamentally wrong that this practice goes on despite the public wanting it banned.
Despite the Animal Sentience Bill being largely an England and Wales only Bill as Scotland already enshrines animal sentience rights in law, the SNP has called on the UK Government to recognise the sentience welfare rights of animals undergoing experiments instead of denying these nature based rights to continue this unethical and harmful practice on innocent animals.
The SNP urges the UK Government to update animal welfare legislation to be more in line with the ethical and humane rights of animals to improve animal welfare standards domestically, and internationally will push the UK Government to urge international actors to commit to better animal welfare on a global scale.