Animal Welfare Round-up Issue #4


Welcome to the latest issue of my Animal Welfare Round-Up, where I regularly update you on some of the causes I have recently been taking action on. You can read my previous issues here.

The Dog Meat Trade  

dog eyesTowards the end of last year, a number of constituents contacted me about the dog meat trade in Asia. If you want some more detail about the issue and the UK Government’s position, you can read this House of Commons Library report.

As some of you may know, there was a debate in the House of Commons on this issue at the end of October. Though it was a rather short debate, it was warming to see cross-party agreement and for the House to approve the motion, stating that “this House calls for an immediate end to dog meat trade cruelty.”

Responding on behalf of the government, the minister rightly agreed that “this disgusting treatment is clearly unacceptable”. In specific reference to China, he said that the government “continues to work alongside the authorities to help protect the welfare of stray animals and farm animals.”

I then put a question to the government in order to get more detail on what action they had been taking with some Asian countries on this issue. In response, the Foreign Office Minister said that the issue had been raised with the Vietnamese Government, South Korean authorities and Chinese counterparts this year. He also assured me that he will be writing to all relevant Ambassadors in due course and that the government “will consider a review of how we interact with various international organisations on dog meat consumption, specifically on the issue of health.”


Animal Welfare in China and the Illegal Wildlife Trade  

bcfeMore broadly, animal welfare and the wildlife trade in China continue to concern me. Many domestic and wild animals are subject to horrible conditions and practices, whether that be through unsuitable livestock caging, live-cooking of animals or the fur industry.

Again, I questioned the government about what work they are undertaking with authorities in China to support the welfare of animals. The government’s response said that the UK is “at the forefront of international efforts to protect animals, both domestic and wild, and continue to work with governments around the world, including China, to gain agreement to animal welfare standards and to phase out cruel and inhumane farming and trapping practices.”

On the illegal wildlife trade, the government pointed to a joint statement issued during the recent Chinese State Visit that “the UK and China recognised the importance and urgency of combating the illegal wildlife trade and committed to take active measures to tackle this global challenge.”


Dogs Trust Event in Parliament  

dog-puppy-packMany of you have been in touch this year about the puppy farming that is taking place under the government’s watch. This has also been a feature in my previous animal welfare round-ups. On the 1st December, Dogs Trust – who are the UK’s largest dog welfare charity – hosted a number of MPs at its annual House of Commons reception. The event was organised to continue the charity’s campaign against puppy farming.

This will have not only gained the attention of many new MPs, but will also have convinced many to take action. I am pleased to continue supporting Dogs Trust in raising awareness of this and other issues. This is not only affecting unwitting members of the public who are buying puppies without knowing where they have come from, but it also brings a risk of disease and mistreatment, which is unacceptable.

I wrote to the Home Office in August raising concerns about this issue. The government response is here.


EU Nature Directives  

Finally, while it is not specifically an animal welfare issue, I also wanted to update you on the EU Nature Directives. These protect some of our most precious wildlife and natural environments in our country and across Europe. However, there have been discussions about reviewing them and the EU are currently undertaking a series of tests. There have been concerns that this will result in the laws being watered down.

A huge number of people across the European Union have called for these to be kept and better enforced – including a number of Birmingham Northfield constituents. As such, I have just written a letter to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. To their credit, a minister recently stood up and spoke out in defence of these laws in a high-profile European meeting in December. However, I have asked them to provide a response along with some more detail on this important issue. I will of course, update you all once I receive a response.


I hope you find this update useful – remember you can also follow my work on Facebook and Twitter.

Recent Posts

Richard Burden

Avatar photo

I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Get in touch

You can reach me by email at or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.