Many people have contacted me about the dog meat trade in Asian countries. As some of you know, I am co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare, so this is an issue on which I have a keen interest.
I am proud that Britain is a nation of dog lovers and I view the trade and consumption of dog meat as quite abhorrent, particularly where it involves the sort of cruel practices that many of you have described to me.
That is why I am relieved that while the Government recognises the need for sensitivity when dealing with countries where eating dog meat is culturally accepted, it has continued to try to influence those countries. There have often been accusations against countries in Asia of cruel treatment towards animals, and the Government has made clear that there can be no place for cruel or inhumane practices anywhere.
Alok Sharma MP, the Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for this issue, recently described representations he made on the subject to the South Korean ambassador. In a Westminster Hall Debate held on 12 September he said that “although we have no legal jurisdiction, we can and do still work hard to make our views known to the South Korean Government and press for change”.
Ministers are also working with charities operating in the region to encourage welfare improvements and encourage, and sometimes pay, dog farmers to seek other sources of income. An important part of the battle is to convince people to care about animal welfare and change their own behaviour. Thanks in large measure to these organisations' activism as well as the British Government's consistent influence, dog meat consumption is declining in several countries across the region.
Thank you again to all those who took time to contact me about this issue.