Remploy (United Kingdom Government Response)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd March 2012.

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Photo of Jenny Marra Jenny Marra Labour

I know that, like me, the member cares a lot about the Dundee factory. I have spoken to Remploy and it would be happy to tender for the contract for the new police and fire uniforms if the Scottish Government signalled its willingness to use article 19 to put the contract in place. I hope that he will back the campaign later today.

We must recognise the power of article 19. The European Union—one of the biggest free-trade zones in the world—recognised the moral and financial case for ensuring that contracts are given directly to protect our workplaces when it legislated to allow public procurement to bypass the commercial tender process under article 19. That is a power that Fergus Ewing has at his disposal and I urge him to use it.

In answer to Mark McDonald’s point, I say that the campaign for Remploy to make police and fire uniforms has received widespread support. Last week, I received a call from a global oil and gas company in Aberdeen that had heard about the campaign. It told me that, if the Scottish Government secured the long-term future of Remploy factories in Scotland by committing to using article 19, it would in turn, following that show of confidence, commit to procuring all of its personal protective equipment from Remploy. That company has today given the Scottish Government an opportunity to secure the future of Remploy and save hundreds of jobs, provided the Government is willing to take the reins of leadership and commit to using article 19.

I have written to Government ministers on the issue and I have yet to receive a reply but, in light of the significant offer that I have raised today, I would appreciate it if the minister, in closing, could say whether the Government will consider that action.

I would move to close—