Britain vows to rein in animal rights activists
Tue Nov 23, 7:43 PM ET
LONDON (AFP) – The British government announced plans to introduce legislation preventing activists from harassing scientists engaged in animal research.
The pharmaceutical industry immediately welcomed the government proposals which were mentioned in the annual speech Queen Elizabeth II (news – web sites) gave at the opening of parliament.
Under the Serious Organized Crime and Police Bill, which would cover England and Wales, the police would have more power to direct protesters away from the homes of such researchers.
The bill would provide for a new offense of protesting outside homes in a way that causes “harassment, alarm or distress” to the residents.
The proposals were, the Home Office said, “a response to the continued targeting by animal rights extremists of those working in the bioscience sector and elsewhere”.
Last week, Prime Minister Tony Blair (news – web sites) used the launch of a five-year plan for science and technology to warn animal rights extremists that they will not be allowed to stand in the way of scientific progress.
The Government has become increasingly concerned in recent months that the activities of extremists might deter the pursuit of important scientific and medical research involving animals.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s (ABPI) director general Richard Barker said the legilsative proposals “are vital if we wish to see the continued development of new medicines in Britain.”
With hundreds of cases of harassment, violence and intimidation, “some companies are talking of moving their work to other countries, which would be a disaster for Britain,” he said.
The queen’s speech also included an Animal Welfare Bill intended to improve standards of animal welfare and increase the penalties for abuse — a move welcomed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Its provisions include a measure to impose on those who own or are responsible for animals a duty of care to ensure their animal’s welfare. A similar provision already exists to protect farmed animals.
It would also increase the penalties for animal fighting offenses, and update existing regulations applying to dog and cat boarding establishments; dog breeding; performing animals; pet shops; and riding establishments.
There would also be new regulations applying to animal sanctuaries; livery yards; pet fairs; and racing greyhounds. Yahoo! News