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Albert Owen and Nia Griffith with the Bill

Nia congratulating Albert Owen MP on his private members’ bill which paved the way for the government’s grocery adjudicator bill

Nia Griffith MP is calling on the government to give the new office of the grocery adjudicator or supermarket ombudsman the powers to fine supermarkets. Speaking up in the second reading of the parliamentary bill which will set up the office of the adjudicator as a watchdog over the big ten supermarkets, she said

“I warmly welcome the Bill, but if we do not grab the opportunity to give the adjudicator the teeth that the office deserves, it will be a wasted opportunity. Having an adjudicator is about having a referee and ensuring that everyone plays by the rules. It is important to stress that the Bill is not an anti-supermarket measure. Any retailer who respects the groceries supply code of practice has nothing to fear from the establishment of the adjudicator’s office. It is about creating a level playing field and tackling any attempts to breach the code which, if left unchecked, can damage suppliers, rival retailers who do play by the rules, and ultimately consumers. It is crucial for the power to impose fines be there from the start. That would give everyone far more confidence in the role of the adjudicator, and would undoubtedly make the adjudicator much more effective. It would enhance the status of the adjudicator in the minds of the public, the supermarkets and the suppliers. We have heard some terrible examples of big retailers bullying suppliers into accepting lower prices retrospectively. I urge the Government to listen to the many organisations like the farming unions and the Federation of Small Businesses who want the adjudicator to have the power to fine.”

“I very much welcome the fact that the Bill now gives the adjudicator the power to accept complaints and evidence from third parties such as trade associations and trade unions. It can be extremely intimidating for any one supplier to bring a complaint, and trade associations and trade unions can offer help and support, and they are often in a position to see patterns of behaviour emerging—if, for example, there is a systematic breaking of the code. It worries me, however, that clause 15(10) allows the Secretary of State to abolish that power. If we are serious about giving the opportunity to third parties such as trade unions and trade associations to bring issues to the adjudicator’s attention, why have such a clause which lets the Secretary of State get rid of it? I would like to see this clause removed from the bill. “

“Let’s make sure this supermarket watchdog has some real teeth.”