Food Prices and Food Poverty

Part of Opposition Day — [Un-allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:19 pm on 23rd January 2012.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 5:19 pm, 23rd January 2012

I am so fond of my hon. Friend that I have great difficulty in saying that I must draw his attention to the remarks I have just made. His big organisation—Asda—is revered in north Yorkshire because it stemmed from Associated Dairies, which not only set the price but provided a market for local milk suppliers. Individual growers need protection, because they are unable to speak for themselves. We all have big constituencies and may not always be aware of such individuals. I hesitate to say whether big companies are “good guys” or “bad guys”, but Asda and Morrisons source a lot of their food locally—almost 80% or 90%. We need to protect the small individual growers.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee believes that two of its conclusions could have an impact if the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can persuade the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to amend the draft Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill. First, the ability of suppliers to make anonymous complaints is fundamental to the success of the groceries code adjudicator. Secondly, the adjudicator should have the power to launch investigations. We are all agreed that he should have the power to fine, but he should also have the power to launch investigations.