27 April 2005

S2M-2207 Make Poverty History

Scottish Parliament

Wednesday 27 April 2005

[THE DEPUTY PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 14:30]

… … …

Make Poverty History

The Presiding Officer (Mr George Reid): The final item of business is a members' business debate on motion S2M-2207, in the name of Des McNulty, on the make poverty history campaign 2005. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes the UK Government's commitment to the millennium development goals; welcomes the First Minister's recent statement that Scotland's devolved government can contribute to international development; notes that the crucial G8 meeting will be held in Scotland in July 2005; notes with concern that the current debt crisis, trade injustice and shortcomings of aid further exacerbate poverty, inequality, the HIV/AIDS crisis and environmental degradation across the developing world; notes that, if the international community is to make poverty history, then there needs to be further co-ordinated political action by the world's governments, including the United Kingdom, aimed at trade justice, dropping the debt and providing more and better aid, and considers that the UK Government should lead the way for change and use its influence when it holds the presidency of the G8 and chairs the EU to make poverty history in 2005.


… … …


Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): I thank the Presiding Officer for squeezing me in. I will make a few, very brief points.

We should take a more radical approach to the things that we do to support the third world. First, and in our own self-interest, we could support the people who grow the crops that are used to make the drugs in our society. After all, that is a rich source of finance to our budget. The Scottish heroin industry, illegal as it is, is worth £2 billion a year. We should divert that money to support the farmers who are held captive in order to grow the raw materials for drugs.

Fuel is a great problem around the world, but many of the countries that face such problems have lots of sunlight, which is ideal for making biofuel. We could develop biofuel expertise in this country and go out and help other countries to develop their own biofuel industries. After all, biofuel can even power aircraft nowadays.

Some have suggested that poor countries can sell their CO2 emission rights to rich countries. We should stop such a proposal dead in its tracks. If we do not, we will cut off certain opportunities for poor countries, which need CO2 emissions for particular stages in their development.

Trish Godman mentioned fair trade. I think that fair trade products are great; I buy fair trade bananas all the time. However, we need a fair trade plus system in which our enterprises engage at a grass-roots level and invest in the people who produce products whose ethical and health aspects we value so much.

We must build self-sustaining economies in much of the third world, which means supporting people, not Governments. Interestingly, as the banks discovered in the squatter camps in South Africa, when money is lent to people who are poor and are not used to debt, they always pay it back. Such lending is safe and it is self-interest that takes one down such a route. For example, Freddie Laker's airline went bust because of a debt that was a fifteenth of the debt of British Airways at the time. However, British Airways did not go bust because the debtors could not and dared not pull in the debt. Third world countries should get together, pool their debt and call the first world's bluff.


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