It was 29 degrees in Westminster and the policemen and women having to stand in the heat in their bulletproof vests at the entrance to Parliament must have been baking. Anyway, we queued up and took our seats just after 3pm to hear Lord Judd (former Director of Oxfam) pressurising the government to ensure a positive result at the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations currently taking place in New York at the moment. Lord Green (Minister of State for Trade and Investment), whose office received 600 SPEAK pray & post cards and peace doves calling for the closure of DSO last week, was also a matter of debate. (You can read a bit more about our arms trade campaign here).
Anyway, following the Private Notice Questions finally came the Third Reading of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) Bill by Baroness Wilcox. This Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech back in May to much excitement, because SPEAK has been campaigning for it to be established since 2009, along with other groups such as Traidcraft, Action Aid, the Fairtrade Foundation and Friends of the Earth. If the law is passed, the GCA (also called the 'supermarket ombudsman') would regulate supermarket's behaviour with their suppliers to ensure that the 2010 Code of Practice is properly adhered to. (This in itself is of course a form of corporate accountability, the focus of SPEAK campaigns for many years). In essence the GCA should therefore help to protect small producers in the developing world - plus farmers in this country (think of the dairy farmers' protests at the moment) - from economic exploitation by powerful supermarket chains in this country.
Currently we are trying to prayerfully discern the subject of SPEAK campaigns for the future. If you have opinions on where you'd like to see the network's energy directed, then why not come to Vocal Training in September, or join the campaigns petal at Flower Model? Plus you can always email us at email@example.com. Whatever happens though, expect to hear more from us on the GCA in the future!