Another step closer to protecting suppliers and shoppers

Posted on: 20th May 2011

This was originally posted on 29/03/2010

St Ives MP Andrew George will tomorrow lead the Liberal Democrat involvement in the Committee Stage of the Grocery Market Ombudsmen Bill. The Private Members’ Bill calls on Government to create a Supermarket Ombudsman who would act to protect the rights and interests of suppliers and shoppers as recommended in a report by the Government’s own competition watchdog the Competition Commission. ? ?

The Private Members’ Bill was proposed by Labour MP Albert Owen and Mr George has worked closely with Mr Owen to ensure that it has strong cross party support. The Ombudsman as proposed by the Competition Commission would act to police unfair abuses of market power by the big supermarket chains. These abuses harm the interest of consumers, farmers and suppliers alike. ? ?

Indeed, Professor Roger Clark – a competition specialist at Cardiff Business School – published an academic paper disproving the big supermarket’s claim that an ombudsman would lead to an increase in prices for shoppers. Professor Clark’s research found that an ombudsman would protect the interests of shoppers and would “lead to more choice, better quality products and lower prices”.     ? ?

Mr George has been leading the debate for the creation of a Supermarket Ombudsman for over 10 years, and chairs the Grocery Market Action Group (GMAG). The Action Group brings together suppliers’ organisations, NGOs, and academic experts including Friends of the Earth, the British Independent Fruit Growers’ Association, Traidcraft, the National Farmers’ Union, War on Want, Action Aid, the British Brands Group, the Association of Convenience Stores and others.? ?

“I am very pleased that the after the hard work of all involved in the campaign the Bill has made such strong progress,” said Mr George. “We have had countless reports and inquiries, all of which have called for an Ombudsman to be created. Hopefully with the Second Reading of the Bill tomorrow a bright future for suppliers and more choice for shoppers is one step closer.”