International Development Expenditure

– in the Scottish Parliament on 7th May 2014.

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Photo of Siobhan McMahon Siobhan McMahon Labour

5. To ask the Scottish Government whether, in deciding its international development expenditure, it takes into account how developing countries balance meeting the needs and interests of business with those of people living in poverty. (S4O-03190)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Yes. All our international development expenditure is focused on helping people who live in poverty in developing countries, in line with the millennium development goals and the development plans of our priority countries. As part of that, we seek to work alongside both the private sector and civil society to help foster a global partnership for development, which is MDG 8.

Photo of Siobhan McMahon Siobhan McMahon Labour

A recent Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund event that I co-hosted provided an opportunity to meet SCIAF and its partners from Columbia and hear at first hand about the impact of big business on that country’s Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities. We heard that rich landowners, armed groups and multinational companies—including companies that are registered in the United Kingdom and Scotland—are now forcing people off their land so that it can be used for mining, banana plantations, cattle ranching and drug trafficking.

Does the minister agree with SCIAF, which believes that Scotland can and should play its part in promoting ethical and responsible business practices? How will the Scottish Government take a proactive role in promoting human rights and responsible behaviour from Scottish businesses?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Yes, I agree with SCIAF and with what Siobhan McMahon said. I did not get to meet the Colombian delegation this time, but I met them last year when they came round.

There are two ways that we can do what Siobhan McMahon suggests. One is domestically, by promoting that approach through the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill. As she knows, we have included in the bill a section about ethically and fairly traded goods. That shows what we can do in domestic legislation. We are also working alongside the Scottish Human Rights Commission, which has developed its action plan on human rights, part of which includes determining how we can incorporate what are known as the Ruggie principles, which are the United Nations guiding principles on business and human rights.

We can do what is suggested domestically, through legislation, and we can do it through the national action plan. I am happy to provide Siobhan McMahon with more details if she requires them.