Today the Scottish Parliament votes on the final stage of the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill. This important legislation will govern how around £9billion is spent on public sector goods and services each year. Strong legislation, regulation and guidance on sustainable and ethical procurement criteria have the potential to help Scotland’s public authorities make a positive difference to our local communities and the wider world.
Scotland: a Fair Trade Nation
The Scottish Fair Trade Forum welcomes the strong commitment of the Scottish Government to Fair Trade and welcomes the support for Fair Trade across all parties in the Scottish Parliament. It is in part due to this political support along with the commitment of people across Scotland that the nation reached the criteria to be declared a Fair Trade Nation last year. The Forum welcomes the commitment of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament not just to maintaining that status but developing it further. Changes in public sector procurement practices could make a significant impact on levels of ethical and Fair Trade purchasing in Scotland improving trading relations for many farmers and workers in the developing world.
The consultative and legislative process so far
During the consultation and legislative process, the Forum along with a number of Scotland’s leading civil society organisations prepared ten key suggestions that would strengthen the Bill’s social and environmental credentials. In relation to ethical and Fair Trade, the Forum welcomes the Scottish Government's amendment at Stage 2 of the bill to include a statement of a public authority's general policy on fairly and ethically traded goods and services as part of its procurement strategy. This amendment to the Bill will help build on the significant progress Scotland has already made. The Forum would like to see a duty on public authorities to procure ethical and Fair Trade goods and had hoped that the Bill would deliver this. However, we do recognise that the Bill as amended at Stage 2 does for the first time compel public authorities to state their policy towards ethical and Fair Trade. The Forum also welcomes the invitation from the Scottish Government to work with it to produce guidance and advice for public sector bodies on ethical and Fair Trade procurement and we look forward to developing that work.
We are asking MSPs to support these two amendments
Amendment 44 in the name of Patrick Harvie:
44 In section 36, page 18, line 8, leave out <, disregarding any areas outside Scotland>
We believe that as the bill stands the wording may cause confusion about what it is possible to procure and could unintentionally reduce the procurement of ethical and Fair Trade goods.
Amendment 38 in the name of Jackie Baillie.
The Forum has for some time argued for an annual national report on public procurement.
38 After section 16, insert—
<Annual report on procurement activity in Scotland
(1) As soon as reasonably practicable after the end of each financial year, the Scottish Ministers must prepare a report, based on information contained in annual procurement reports published under section 15(1) during that year, on procurement activity in Scotland.
(2) The report must include information about—
(a) regulated procurements that have been completed,
(b) community benefit requirements that contracting authorities consider were fulfilled,
(c) steps taken to facilitate the involvement of supported businesses in regulated procurements.
(3) The report may also contain such other information as the Scottish Ministers consider appropriate.
(4) The Scottish Ministers must—
(a) publish the report in such manner as they consider appropriate, (b) lay a copy of the report before the Scottish Parliament.>