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Fairtrade Towns

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:39 pm on 6th March 2003.

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Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour 5:39 pm, 6th March 2003

I will deal with that point later and I hope that it will be worth waiting for.

In 2001-02 alone, £45 million was spent in the UK on fair trade foods. Internationally, four and a half million growers and their families, in 36 countries, benefit from selling their goods through fair trade schemes. In choosing to buy fair trade products, we make a small contribution to helping the poorest families of the world.

Businesses and other organisations also have a part to play. As corporate social responsibility moves up the business agenda, many public and private sector organisations are getting involved in the fair trade debate, which is to be welcomed. For example, Strathaven and Aberfeldy have done so and I am sure that further Scottish towns will get involved. I wish every success to those towns that seek to become Fairtrade towns. Satisfying the five criteria requires not only shops putting the products on their shelves, but communities to buy them, organise committees and do work in schools. My family has been involved in such work, which creates a supportive environment for fair trade.

Susan Deacon and Richard Lochhead asked what the Executive is doing about fair trade. In 2001, we introduced a choice of Fairtrade coffee in the staff restaurants in two of our main buildings, St Andrew's House and Pentland House. We introduced a Fairtrade option for coffee that is served at official meetings and staff can request Fairtrade coffee when ordering hospitality.

However, by the end of April 2003 we will have introduced Fairtrade tea and coffee options in all the Executive's staff restaurants. We have also asked our catering contractor to ensure that all tea and coffee provided at official meetings is bought under a recognised fair trade label or equivalent. In other words, we will be changing our policy as a result of bringing attention to these matters.

We recognise the lobbying and work that is going on to this end throughout Scotland. In recognition of Fairtrade fortnight, we have arranged for the display of promotional posters in Executive canteens and promotional stands in all staff restaurants next week. This will allow people to sample products, dispelling the myth about poor quality and allowing Executive employees to take part in Fairtrade purchasing and tasting.

To return to the substance of the motion, the Executive believes that it is right, especially in Fairtrade fortnight, that the Parliament should pay tribute to the individuals and organisations in Strathaven and Aberfeldy, and to others who are now campaigning to become Fairtrade towns. As the motion suggests, we should also recognise the important part played by South Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross councils.

Finally, I congratulate Linda Fabiani on bringing this matter to the attention of the Parliament. I wish all towns in Scotland every success with Fairtrade fortnight, and beyond.

Meeting closed at 17:47.