All-party backing for Fair Trade in Scottish Parliament

By staff writers
March 10, 2010

A trebling of fairtrade towns would be needed if Scotland was to become a 'fair trade nation', MSPs have heard in an affirmative debate on Fairtrade Fortnight in the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking during the debate last week, the Minister for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, expressed ongoing commitment to making Scotland a genuinely fair trade nation.

Fairtrade Fortnight ran from 22 February to 7 March 2010 - but the organisers of the initiative emphasise that it is aimed at focusing what is going on - and needs to go on - for 365 days a year.

A motion in the name of Bill Butler, a Labour member of the parliament, was put to the Parliament on 3 March 2010, and discussed without a vote.

Churches and community groups are among those who have been at the forefront of the growth of the fair trade movement in Scotland and across Britain in recent years.

Politicians from all parties backed these developments, though one Scottish National Party member, Linda Fabiani, stressed that the 'fair trade' label should be scrutinised carefully.

"For example, some of the co-operatives on certain fruit plantations in South America do not allow trade union membership and that there are concerns about the rights of some workers in those places," she said.

This is an issue which fairtrade campaigners are actively pursuing.

Fabiani went on: "I think that the things that happen in communities across the country are wonderful. In my area, East Kilbride and Hamilton are Fairtrade towns. I visited a school in Wishaw with [First Minister] Jack McConnell; it brought us joy to see how children have embraced the fair trade idea.

"One of the reasons for the fair trade movement's continued success is that it is a genuinely grass-roots movement that has embraced everyone, including business and commerce, who has wanted to be part of it," said Conservative MSP Gavin Brown.

Liberal Democrat Hugh O'Donnell discussed the Fortnight in the context of wider foreign and global economic policy concerns.

He declared: "Many small producers throughout the world, whether of foodstuffs, cotton or other products, produce much of their [produce] because of the demand of our consumers. Perhaps they have diverted from sustaining their own communities with adequate levels of foodstuffs and indigenous products to satisfy our desire to have out-of-season fruits or our continual demands for chocolate or tea. We have a moral obligation to ensure that producers who follow our desires get a fair return."

Greens have also been among those pushing fair trade practices which take into account key environmental considerations and the needs of the planet.

The full debate can be read here:


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