Many constituents have contacted me recently about the dog meat trade in East and Southeast Asia, and the Westminster Hall debate held on 12 September to discuss the e-petition on this. I was unable to attend the debate but you can read it in full here: http://tinyurl.com/hg79uws

I am proud that Britain is a nation of dog lovers and agree that the trade and consumption of dog meat is quite abhorrent.   Whilst the Government recognises the difficulty in standing against 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.

In relation to South Korea in particular, the British Embassy in Seoul has raised the issue of cruelty towards animals on numerous occasions with the South Korean authorities and explained that the UK public and parliamentarians would like to see Korean regulation that would bring the practice to an end. We will continue to seek further opportunities to raise the issue, in particular as we approach the Winter Olympics in 2018, and will monitor developments in the practice in the Republic of Korea.

A debate was held in Parliament in November 2015 regarding the consumption of dog meat and I welcomed the comments of the previous Foreign Office Minister, James Duddridge MP, who vowed during the debate:   We will continue to raise these important issues in the most effective way possible, which is not always through megaphone diplomacy, although sometimes speaking loudly is needed. Where it is needed, we are prepared to speak loudly.    I also warmly welcome the work that non-governmental organisations such as Animal Asia Foundation, the Humane Society International, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals do in Asian countries to protect dogs' welfare.   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.

I can assure you that the Government feels very strongly about this issue and will raise the concerns I have received with the Minister who responded to the debate, Alok Sharma MP, so that he is aware of the strength of feeling on this issue.