George questions Prime Minister over Supermarket Watchdog

Posted on: 17th October 2012

Andrew George MP has urged the Prime Minister not to delay and to proceed with the Grocery Code Adjudicator Bill.

Mr George, who has led a decade long campaign to protect farmers and growers from what he has described as the “bully boy behaviour of supermarket buyers”, pressed David Cameron on the matter during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today (Wednesday 17th October).

He said he welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement that the Bill would be a ‘major step forward’.

Mr George, the Liberal Democrat MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Constituency of St Ives, chairs the Grocery Market Action Group (GMAG) which has pressed for action.

The need for a supermarket watchdog was made clear in two reports by the Competition Commission published in 2000 and 2008. Both reports found that big supermarkets were abusing their power in the market and were transferring ‘excessive risk and unexpected costs’ to farmers, growers, and suppliers. They warned that if action was not taken these practices would ‘have an adverse effect on investment and innovation in the supply chain, and ultimately on consumers’. New rules (a Code of Practice) governing fair business practices in the supply chain were introduced in February 2010 but GMAG has frequently noted that unless the Government also take action to create the watchdog there was no one in place to ensure the new rules are enforced.

GMAG includes in its membership the National Farmers’ Union, the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland, the British Independent Fruit Growers Association, Friends of the Earth, ActionAid, Traidcraft, the Association of Convenience Stores, and others.