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Supermarkets: Ethics

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will ask the Competition Commission to inquire into whether practices of UK supermarkets involve significant exploitation of workers in developing countries; and if he will make a statement. (152605)

The Government do not request the Competition Commission to undertake inquiries except in certain, limited circumstances. Ensuring that markets operate freely and fairly is not a matter for the Government, but is for the independent competition authorities.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has asked the CC to investigate if any features of this market prevent, restrict or distort competition and if so, what action might be taken to remedy these. The CC has a statutory requirement to report within two years of a reference to them by the OFT. It is required to publish its final report by 8 May 2008, but is aiming to do so by October 2007. The CC expects to publish its emerging thinking for consultation on 23 January. The current timetable for the inquiry can be found at:

The CC investigation is not limited to considering only the issues that the OFT has identified, and any issues should be raised direct with them.