Skip to main content

Groceries Code Adjudicator

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 31 March 2011

20. What progress he has made on the implementation of his proposals for a groceries code adjudicator. (49986)

The groceries code adjudicator Bill is being drafted. I had hoped to publish it before Easter, but now I expect that publication will happen soon after Easter.

I thank the Minister for that encouraging reply. Farmers in my constituency are very anxious to see the introduction of an adjudicator. Will it have sufficient powers to impose financial penalties if there is persistent avoidance of the code of practice?

When we publish the Bill, the hon. Gentleman will see that we wish to have a reserve power for the adjudicator on penalties, but there is also a real case to be made for the adverse publicity that large supermarkets would face if they breached the groceries supply code of practice.

Last week we had a debate in Westminster Hall on the pig industry, and Members indicated clearly that if there was no immediate action to restore the balance between supermarkets’ profits and the profitability of farmers, many farmers would go out of business. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that that does not happen?

I may have to refer the hon. Gentleman to Ministers in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who are obviously responsible for agriculture. We should be clear that the groceries code adjudicator will not be a price regulator—that has never been proposed. It will be there to enforce the groceries supply code of practice. That is very important, because it is in the interests not just of the producers and farmers who supply the large supermarkets but of consumers.