I believe we have a moral duty to treat animals in a humane and compassionate way and that national governments must work together to fight animal cruelty.
The last Labour Government had a strong record on animal welfare at home, for example by introducing the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and on international animal welfare; including the introduction of the EU trade ban on seal products and banning the use of great apes in animal experiments. The previous Labour Government also established the National Wildlife Crime Unit, which assists with the enforcement of wildlife law. At the last general election, I stood on a manifesto that included a commitment to build on this strong record on animal welfare and prior to the election, Labour colleagues committed to again lead the fight against global animal cruelty.
The international rules for the import and export of hunting trophies are established under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. A hunting trophy of an endangered species can only be exported if the exporting country is satisfied that the hunt was both legal and sustainable.
The UK Government announced in November 2015 that it would ban lion trophy imports within the next two years unless there are improvements in the way hunting takes place in certain countries. The Government has also moved to take Benin and Ethiopia off the list of countries from which the UK is prepared to import lion trophies, and has said it has plans to move against Zambia and Mozambique.
I support the calls for a complete ban on the importation of any lion product, including sport hunting trophies, into the UK and I hope the Government will listen to the concerns that have been raised by organisations such as IFAW and take urgent action to support lion conservation around the world.