Skip to main content

Grocery Sector

Volume 476: debated on Thursday 22 May 2008

13. What assessment he has made of the Competition Commission’s report on the grocery sector. (206993)

As I have said, the Government very much welcome the Competition Commission’s report on the UK grocery market. It is a detailed and thorough piece of work. My colleagues and I are considering the report and its recommendations and will provide an agreed Government response before the summer recess.

I am grateful to the Minister for that response. In a debate last week, the Minister acknowledged that, if the major retailers failed to reach a voluntary conclusion on the supermarket code of practice and the establishment of an ombudsman,

“the Government will be asked to step in and legislate.”—[Official Report, Westminster Hall, 13 May 2008; Vol. 475, c. 372WH.]

Can the Minister envisage circumstances in which his Department would dismiss the findings and fail to step in?

With the greatest respect to the hon. Gentleman, I will not try to speculate about a range of different scenarios. The Competition Commission will engage with the retailers next week, as he knows, in the way that we discussed. We want agreed conclusions between the industry and the Competition Commission. If conclusions cannot be agreed between the two sides, we will have to look at the situation on its merits at the time. My understanding is that those conversations are taking place, that they are positive and that both sides are approaching them constructively, and I welcome that.