May 2014 | by Chris Hegarty, Senior Adviser - Policy and Advocacy
In recent months, thousands of Christian Aid Scotland campaigners have been pushing for the Scottish Parliament to pass new laws requiring more ethically-minded public sector buying policies. With the passing of the Procurement Reform Bill, Chris Hegarty, our Policy Adviser, can report some success.
For many years charities, churches and other campaigners have encouraged us to think about the impact that our individual consumer choices have on things like workers' conditions, fair prices for farmers, climate change and much more.
But Scotland's biggest consumer is our public sector, which spends around £9 billion per year on a huge range of goods from beans to bed sheets.
‘Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.'
Anna Lappe, author and sustainability advocate
Introduced to the Scottish Parliament last year, the Procurement Reform Bill is Scotland's chance to revamp its public sector buying policies, and last Autumn it prompted Christian Aid Scotland's Nine Billion campaign.
Backed by the thousands of emails and postcards sent by Christian Aid supporters, Christian Aid Scotland met with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in March to explain how improving Scotland's buying policies would help some of the world's poorest people.
And when the bill was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament this month, it meant that, for the first time, Scotland's public sector buyers - such as local authorities - will have to make public their policies on buying fair and ethically-traded goods. We believe this will lead to a major increase in sales.
But there is still work to be done. Much of the detail is in the guidance notes given to public sector buyers by the government, and we need to ensure that the guidance is strong.
We also asked for Scotland's public sector buyer-power to be used to encourage good policies on climate change, and tax payments to developing countries. These areas were not covered by the Bill, but will be dealt with in the guidance notes, or in other pieces of legislation.
Christian Aid's response
Christian Aid would have liked to seen an even stronger bill, but we welcome the progress that has been made on ethically-traded goods, and will continue to work with the Scottish Parliament and Government on climate change and tax issues.
Most of all we'd like to thank every one of our campaigners who took action and helped to bring about this positive change.
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