Traidcraft and Fair Trade — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 18th December 2018.

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Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Labour, Blaydon 9:30 am, 18th December 2018

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention, and I will touch on some of those points later.

Brexit, as we have said, continues to affect the company’s trading. When I spoke to Traidcraft’s chief executive, Robin Roth, shortly after the announcement of a potential closure, I asked what I could do to help to secure Traidcraft’s future. He told me that the best thing that I could do would be to encourage people to buy from Traidcraft in the run-up to Christmas, as a strong Christmas—the Christmas catalogues were nearly ready—would allow Traidcraft to look to a future for the organisation.

That is what I have tried to do locally, and—with the help of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham—in this House. I hope that many hon. Members will have bought at least some of their Christmas gifts from the Traidcraft catalogue, which we sent to all Members some weeks ago. Traidcraft do a fine line in quality socks as well as more decorative crafts, and they have certainly featured on my Christmas list.

I am glad that Traidcraft supporters have, I am told, responded magnificently. That has meant that the company has been able to put together a plan for the future that will see the company refocus and survive. Sadly, many of the jobs in Gateshead will be lost, the warehousing will be outsourced and there will be a focus on food and related goods and a very much narrower range of crafts, together with a new emphasis on consumers buying co-operatively. I look forward to seeing the new “Traidcraft 2” develop and grow, and will continue to support it.

Traidcraft, as part of the fair trade movement, has some asks of the Government. I thank the Minister for inquiring in advance whether there were any particular issues for which he could prepare. I do not believe that any of the asks will come as surprises to the Minister, although I was unable to give him that notice.

First, the Government need to reassure the many producers and farmers in vulnerable developing countries that the UK will put in place measures to preserve market access—if necessary, unilaterally—to avoid disruption. They urge the Government to provide reassurance that the needs of poorer countries and vulnerable stakeholders will be taken into consideration as future trade policy is developed and implemented.