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Fairtrade

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 24th June 2009.

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Photo of Alison Seabeck Alison Seabeck Chair, South West Regional Select Committee 11:30 am, 24th June 2009

What funding his Department has provided to Fairtrade initiatives in the latest period for which figures are available.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Minister of State, Department for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

Between 1999 and 2009, the Department for International Development committed just over £3 million-worth of support to Fairtrade, of which £2.6 million has so far been released. The majority of current funding is through the global Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International. We also continue to work in developing countries and internationally to improve countries' and producers' access to markets and capacity to trade.

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Photo of Alison Seabeck Alison Seabeck Chair, South West Regional Select Committee

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. He will know that Plymouth has been at the forefront of promoting Fairtrade, and I am sure we will want to sell the new cosmetic line. However, there are still concerns, including those raised with me by the ladies of the Inner Wheel in Roborough. Can my hon. Friend assure me that, in the current global downturn, his Department will continue to scrutinise the way in which payments are made and ensure that wages are not being cut as markets and trade fall?

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Minister of State, Department for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

I know from a previous visit I made to Plymouth of the importance that Fairtrade is given in the town, including in my hon. Friend's constituency. I am delighted that she continues to be lobbied by supporters of Fairtrade in Plymouth for further DFID work on this issue. I can assure her that we will continue to fund Fairtrade and to work with the Fairtrade Foundation and with a series of similar initiatives to promote the cause of poor producers getting access to our markets.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Does the Minister agree that we should congratulate Letchworth garden city, the world's first garden city, on obtaining Fairtrade status two weeks ago, and that this is a fine initiative that helps to market products and assists some of the most vulnerable people in the world?

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Minister of State, Department for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

I am delighted to agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I am also delighted that his constituents—and, no doubt, others nearby—have worked so hard to ensure that Letchworth garden city is now a Fairtrade garden city. I look forward to his continuing to raise these issues at DFID questions.

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