Help labs, say MPs

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The Independent Online

Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, will come under pressure from MPs this week to back new legislation to protect the pharmaceutical industry from violent animal rights extremists.

Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, will come under pressure from MPs this week to back new legislation to protect the pharmaceutical industry from violent animal rights extremists.

Ian Gibson MP, chairman of the science and technology committee, tabled an early day motion 10 days ago urging the Government to introduce the legislation.

He wants police to be given more powers to arrest and detain people suspected of harassing employees of companies that use animals to test their products.

The move is being backed by two industry bodies, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the Biotechnology Industry Association.

According to the ABPI, between January and February, 12 suppliers severed links with targeted companies because their workers were being threatened. There were also 36 cases of damage to property. In the three months leading up to Christmas, there were 42 similar incidents.

So far, 44 MPs have signed the motion, including the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vincent Cable. But Dr Gibson said that some of his fellow MPs felt scared about supporting it.

"There are a lot of people worried about sticking their names on the motion," he said. "It's time to stand up to the animal rights extremists. They are bullies."

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