I beg to move,
That this House
has considered Traidcraft and the future of fair trade.
It is a pleasure to open this debate under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I start by thanking my right hon. Friend Stephen Timms and Will Quince, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group for Fairtrade, for their support in making the application to the Backbench Business Committee.
In one of those strange coincidences, when I was thinking about my Christmas card competition for local primary schools last summer, an officer from Gateshead Council—my local authority—telephoned the office and suggested that this year the theme should be fair trade. That seemed an excellent idea to me. Gateshead prides itself on being a Fairtrade authority. In Traidcraft, a Fairtrade company and charity based on the Team Valley trading estate, we had a real local connection and a topic that would get pupils thinking about just what fair trade means for us here in the UK and for producers who grow, create and supply fair trade goods and products, especially in the lead up to Christmas, when we think of gifts and rich food.
I was shocked to hear in September that Traidcraft was in difficulty, facing potential closure and consulting its 60-plus staff based in its Team Valley warehouse and offices on potential redundancies. Traidcraft has a personal significance to me. Over many years I have been a Traidcraft customer, and its craft products are scattered around my home. Some may even have appeared as raffle prizes over the years. Indeed, I have been a trader, although sadly not a very successful one.