Manchester: J&P groups debate with politicians

 The Manchester Trade Justice Movement, with representatives from Salford Diocese Faith and Justice Commission and CAFOD North-West, met at the Labour Party Spring Conference last weekend. They staged a fringe meeting in the style of the BBC's 'Question Time' at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Panelists included: Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt (Secretary of State for Trade and Industry), Gareth Thomas MP (Parliamentary Under-secretary of State, DFID), Michael Wills MP, Ann Pettifor (Ex Director of Jubilee 2000) and Dr Uwem (Lancaster University). The theme of the debate was: 'Is there the political will for justice in trade and debt?' Panelists were confident that the political will is there, however, it was acknowledged that there is still much work to be done. Today the world produces enough food for every living person, however, six million children die from hunger every year. World trade could prevent this if the rules of trade were reformed. The Trade Justice Movement is campaigning for governments and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to change the rules of trade which currently disadvantage poor countries. Panelists also spoke about issues concerning world debt. Despite promises of debt cancellation, the leaders of rich countries have taken very little action. 52 poor countries are currently in a debt crisis, forced to spend money on debt repayments instead of health care and education. The panelists and audience enjoyed a lively, informative debate about these issues. The message from the fringe meeting is: 'Keep Campaigning!' For real change to come about we must continue to demand trade justice for poor countries. For more information about these campaigns see:

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