Fairtrade

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:20 pm on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative 4:20 pm, 8th March 2007

I congratulate Christine May on securing this important debate. I also congratulate everyone who is involved in Fairtrade fortnight.

These are exciting times for the fair trade movement, which has developed from a small movement a few years ago to a major player in Scottish retail. As Christine May's motion—which I, along with many others, have signed—says,

"40% of people in Scotland regularly buy Fairtrade products and 75% buy a Fairtrade product every year".

I have no doubt that those figures will have grown substantially when Fairtrade fortnight comes around again.

One of the matters that interests us greatly is the fact that the fair trade movement is a genuine grassroots movement. It is driven not by the state or by intra-governmental organisations but by ordinary men and women who have a passion to improve the lot of some of the world's poorest people. The moral case that Christine May advanced is well appreciated. The fair trade movement is a grassroots movement in the sense that it is up to individual communities to seek fair trade status, should they so wish. I am heartened to read in the motion that no fewer than 27 parts of Scotland have now achieved fair trade status. The pioneers of the move towards communities attaining fair trade status—Aberfeldy and Strathaven—deserve congratulations for leading the way.

Ultimately, however, the success of the fair trade movement depends on consumer choice, and rightly so. The onus remains on the fair trade movement to ensure that its marketing campaign, which has been exemplary, continues to attract new converts to the cause. I am sure that it will.

We would do well to remember that fair trade is about more than the Fairtrade logo and the sale of fairly traded products. It is also about ensuring fair and open trading conditions for all producers everywhere. That means taking action to end the grotesque protectionism that exists in the European Union and elsewhere in the west, much to the detriment of producers in the developing world. I am pleased that the aberration that was the common agricultural policy has been substantially reformed since we first debated the fair trade movement in the Scottish Parliament some years ago. However, much remains to be done to level the playing field between the European Union and developing nations to benefit the world's poorest countries. Unless Governments, including our own, take action to address that, the fair trade movement will not become the whole-hearted success that it deserves to be.

Despite the challenges, the fair trade movement has become a beacon of success in Scotland. I wish it every success during the remainder of Fairtrade fortnight.