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Volume 471: debated on Thursday 31 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent discussions he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) representatives of foreign Governments on (i) whaling, (ii) the international moratorium on whaling, (iii) scientific whaling, (iv) whale conservation and (v) whale-related tourism; and if he will make a statement; (181196)

(2) when the most recent ministerial-level discussion was held on whaling; on what dates since 2005 Ministers from his Department have discussed whaling with colleagues in other Departments; when he next intends to discuss whaling with Cabinet colleagues; and if he will make a statement.

DEFRA Ministers have discussed whaling with colleagues in other Government Departments whenever the opportunity has arisen.

On the topic of scientific whaling, I met with Japanese embassy officials on 8 January to express the UK's outrage over Japan's ‘scientific’ whaling activities.

The UK has made representations to foreign governments through our publication ‘Protecting Whales—Global Responsibility’ (endorsed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister (Mr. Brown) and Sir David Attenborough) which has been sent to over 60 countries urging nations to protect these species worldwide. This publication has recently been updated, including a new section on whale-related tourism with the Prime Minister stating on the day of release that

“The current and future benefits from whale watching far exceed those from killing whales.”

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Hilary Benn) has also written to 18 countries encouraging them to join the International Whaling Commission (IWC) for the greater protection of these species through inter alia upholding the IWC's moratorium on commercial whaling.