Fairtrade Towns

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:21 pm on 6th March 2003.

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Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative 5:21 pm, 6th March 2003

I congratulate Linda Fabiani on securing the debate.

I believe in fair trade. Publicity is a major aspect of such issues, because people should be made aware of conditions. Arguments for fair trade that have recently been advanced by the churches and other groups have done much to raise awareness of the fact that when we buy tea, coffee or a bar of chocolate in a shop, there might be unfairness at the end of the chain because of our perhaps slightly selfish desire to drag down prices. Such unfairness exists.

Linda Fabiani referred to Ghana; a year or so ago, I met a lady from Ghana who was trying to spread the word on the matter in question. It was interesting that she complained about the huge European fishing vessels that were appearing off the Ghanain coast, which were sucking up what people had seen over the years as being their traditional crop. That is a problem that we in Scotland perhaps face now. As a result of the infrastructure in Ghana, tomato producers could not compete with cheap imports from Italy, which is a modern and up-to-date country. Wage levels and other factors might suggest to somebody who is not terribly well informed that the tomato producers should be able to sell their products much cheaper, but that is not the case. Many people in such countries find it hard to achieve a reasonable existence not only from their exports, but from what they sell a home.

I said that publicity is all-important and I congratulate Aberfeldy and Strathaven on their publicity, which has created awareness. The conditions for a town's nomination or acceptance as a Fairtrade town do not seem to be too onerous. Other towns might hear about today's debate—although I am sad to see that few people are in the gallery to listen to it—and be made aware of those conditions. I say to Colin Campbell, however, that provosts of towns are not required to sit in shop windows in their pyjamas, although that seems to have been a good publicity stunt. As I said, the requirements are not too onerous and perhaps other towns in Scotland should follow the example that has been set by Aberfeldy and Strathaven.