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Fair Trade Products

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

21. What proportion of products sold on the parliamentary estate were fair trade in 2005-06 and 2004-05. (113139)

As on a previous occasion when the hon. Gentleman asked a similar question, it is not possible to give a single overall figure within its terms. As he knows, the Fairtrade Foundation lists only a rather limited range of products available through catering distribution and supply in London. However, I am pleased to say that the House has spent about £45,000 on fair trade products since April and a further £40,000 on souvenir products from various ethical initiatives. The Refreshment Department is re-tendering for the supply of coffee to the House and has specified that all coffee must be approved by the Fairtrade Foundation.

More than 5 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America have benefited from the sale of fair trade products, some 1,500 of which are available in the United Kingdom. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that we should be setting an example in the Palace of Westminster, that we should have more products available, and that we should have a minimum target for such sales?

I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman about the benefits of the Fairtrade Foundation. As I said, only a limited range of products is available through the catering supply industry. Retail sale is a different issue in which the House is not involved. We are buying, where available, in all product categories bar one, and doing all we can to increase the volume of fair trade produce as time goes on.