I am pleased to be taking part in this debate. Like other Members, I would like first to congratulate my hon. Friend Robert Flello. He and the colleagues who have supported him so well have taken us into a most important debate. Clearly this matter strikes a chord across the country. If I heard my hon. Friend John McDonnell correctly, about 125,000 people have now put their names to the e-petition. I am very pleased to say that my family’s names are proudly inscribed on it. We are a house of dog lovers. We can boast three Great Danes and a disgracefully overfed Labrador—well, a fat Labrador, which might not be uncommon in other Members’ households. My wife has gone to the trouble of rescuing three donkeys—now five—from various distressed situations in Britain and Europe. Their only function seems to be to ensure that we keep a very organic way of gardening under way at home. There are many humorous stories that we could all tell about our experiences of the pets in our families. A love of animals is deep in the psyche of the British people. We would do well to respect that and, more importantly, to respond to it in any way that we can.
I think that we can all agree that pre-eminent among the 125,000 people is Marc Abraham. His Pup Aid programme has touched the consciences of many people throughout our constituencies. One such person in my constituency is Joy Yeates, who has written to me unremittingly on this topic and who wanted to ensure that I was here today to contribute. I am conscious of the time, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I just want to read a short excerpt from the letter that she sent me most recently:
“Puppies need more than a cage, food and drink, as their emotional needs cannot possibly be met in this crucial period of development.”
I am sure that we all utterly agree with that. She continued:
“For that reason, Pup Aid is seeking a ban on the sale of puppies in pet shops where the mother is not present.”