Brighton Kemptown Conservative MP Simon Kirby has welcomed moves to give farmers better protection in their dealings with the big supermarkets.
He was a member of a committee of MPs that called for an independent adjudicator to protect suppliers to supermarkets from being exploited.
In response the government included the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill in the Queen’s Speech yesterday (Wednesday 9 May).
Mr Kirby said that the bill would fulfil a commitment in the coalition agreement to “introduce, as a first step, an ombudsman in the Office of Fair Trading who can proactively enforce the Grocery Supply Code of Practice and curb abuses of power, which undermine our farmers and act against the long-term interest of consumers”.
He said: “Since the election I have received a lot of correspondence from constituents who are concerned that major supermarket chains are exploiting their market power to put undue pressure on suppliers and to compete unfairly with smaller retailers.
“In May 2011 the government published the draft Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill and I was involved in the pre-legislative scrutiny of that bill as a member of the BIS (Business, Innovation and Skills) Select Committee.
“Our committee agreed (an adjudicator) was necessary and I am pleased that the government has now followed through on its commitment in the Queen’s speech.
“The bill would establish an independent adjudicator empowered to initiate investigations if there is the suspicion that a breach of the code of practice had taken place as well as being able to hold to account companies found to be in breach of the code.
“It is important to have a food industry where farmers and food producers are getting a fair deal, and consumers can buy the high-quality British food they want at an affordable price.”
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