Malcolm presses the First Minister to reinforce ethical trading in Local & National Government
Upholding Fair Trade practises in publicly funded contracts Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab): To ask the First Minister what action the Scottish Government will take to ensure that fair trade principles are applied to the awarding of public contracts. (S3F-811)The First Minister (Alex Salmond): Although there are limitations on the ability to discriminate between fair trade and non-fair trade products under public procurement legislation, we support the guidance that was issued to all public bodies in Scotland in 2005 and which explains how public procurement can, nevertheless, support fair trade principlesMalcolm Chisholm: Was the First Minister concerned by this week's BBC Scotland report that several public authorities have entered into contracts with companies accused of serious abuses of workers' rights, including child labour?

Will the Government first take action to ensure that products currently procured by the Scottish public sector meet minimum ethical and fair trade criteria; and secondly, will it go beyond that to include ethical and fair trade criteria in its own procurement contracts, mindful that several other European countries do that, and that the International Development Committee of the Westminster Parliament, based on evidence from the United Kingdom Government, has stated that "there are no legal reasons why public authorities should not include fair and ethical trade criteria in their procurement practices"?
The First Minister: I am sure that Malcolm Chisholm knows - because he was a minister when the previous guidance, which we support, was introduced - that the challenge that we must all overcome is that under the procurement legislation, the criteria used to determine the winning bid must be linked to the subject matter of the contract, which is to say to the product and not the supplier. The examples given in the BBC Scotland report concerned local authorities. The Government is concerned about that and will consider the matter further. May 22nd 2008, (Columns 8915)