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Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times officials from his Department have met representatives from (a) Tesco, (b) Sainsbury's, (c) Morrisons and (d) Asda to discuss the introduction of a supermarket Ombudsman in the last 24 months. (254568)

[holding answer 5 February 2009]: The Competition Commission is seeking undertakings from the grocery retailers covered by the new groceries supply code of practice to establish an ombudsman to monitor and enforce compliance.

The creation of an ombudsman currently remains with the CC. No formal recommendation has been made to the Government.

Until the proposal has been returned to the Government it is not appropriate for officials to comment on it, and accordingly, DEFRA officials have not discussed it.

On the understanding that DEFRA could not comment, a representative of Sainsbury's has given a presentation to DEFRA officials on its view of the proposals. On the same basis other interested parties from outside the four large supermarkets have also provided DEFRA with their views on the proposal.