Fairtrade Towns

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:24 pm on 6th March 2003.

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Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party 5:24 pm, 6th March 2003

I am pleased to speak in the debate and I congratulate my colleague Linda Fabiani on securing it.

I want to bring the Aberfeldy perspective to the debate, because we have heard a great deal about Strathaven. I can confirm an exclusive story: the signs that appear at Aberfeldy's various entrances—I think that the town has four entrances—say that Aberfeldy is Scotland's first Fairtrade town. It must be first equal with Strathaven but, nonetheless, the fact that it is, is very much appreciated in our local community.

I pay tribute to the work of the Aberfeldy Traidcraft Group, which has done so much to make possible Aberfeldy's participation in the venture. At a practical level, I thank Perth and Kinross Council for its assistance with signage. That council has received more letters from me than I care to remember, demanding signage for this, that and the next thing. I am pleased that on this occasion the council was able to respond so effectively.

Fairtrade fortnight has brought a number of interesting ventures into the locality. At Aberfeldy's Breadalbane Academy, which includes the primary school, the children have been selling Fairtrade sweets in the canteen; I do not know how that complies with the Executive's healthy eating project, but fair do's to them, anyway. A number of shops, including the Lurgan farm shop just outside Aberfeldy and the Co-operative Group supermarket—the main supermarket in the town— have been active in promoting Fairtrade products as a result of the venture. In many respects the venture brings together the work of communities, individuals and organisations and provides a welcome opportunity to bind our local community.

The debate gives Parliament the opportunity to mark the significance of the contribution that is made by Fairtrade activity. Although the province of the Parliament is many domestic issues, there are ways in which our Parliament and our community can do something to link with the wider international community and register our concern for the welfare of those who are in less fortunate positions than we are in Scotland today. That symbol alone is an important product of this debate.

It says a great deal for the energy of volunteers—whether they are in Strathaven or in Aberfeldy—that the project has got off the ground and I wish it every success. I hope—to echo some Susan Deacon's remarks—that the debate draws together, from all shades of opinion in the Parliament, all of our productive and positive energies and that we express clearly that the Scottish Parliament is supportive of this way of thinking and that it wishes to encourage its spread and development within Scotland.