THE ANIMALS (Scientific Procedures) Bill, which came up before the House of Commons yesterday, has earned a strong worded rebuke from Bishop Agnellus Andrew.
In a letter to the Times last week, Bishop Andrew dismissed the bill, which aims to tighten the laws surrounding vivisection, as "seriously inadequate".
Bishop Alan Clark of East Anglia, the Anglican bishop of Bradwell and Salisbury, Rabbi Blue and Methodist Revd Lord Donald Soper joined Bishop Andrew in signing the letter.
Although the bishop, who is President of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare, wrote that he "applauded" the Government's honouring of its 1979 election promise to update its legislation in this field", he stressed that the present bill is also riddled with flaws.
• In particular, according to Bishop Andrew, the bill does not effectively curb the infliction of pain on animals; it does not do away with the secrecy that surrounds experimentation; and it allows for experiments to occur for "trivial" purposes, such as non-medical cosmetics.
The bishop and his co signatories called for a "suitable amendment" to the bill, emphasising the moral duty which "human beings have . . . towards their fellow creatures, unable to speak for themselves."
The letter concluded with an exhortation to the Government and to all readers to seek alternative procedures in medical experimentation which would spare animals from pain and distress.