Food Prices and Food Poverty

Part of Opposition Day — [Un-allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 6:07 pm on 23rd January 2012.

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Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives 6:07 pm, 23rd January 2012

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The objectives in the draft Bill are helpful. However, the importance of speed should be emphasised. Most of the framework is in the Bill, and I would be prepared to have it put in place early, even if we failed to achieve some of the elements that I have spoken about—proactivity, anonymity, third party referral to the adjudicator, which is important, and the power to fine.

The Bill may well enable the Secretary of State to introduce regulations allowing the adjudicator to fine supermarkets that fall below the standards set in the Bill. To bring about reputational damage, which is the only way in which supermarkets will be made to change their practice, that additional power will be needed. It is important to recognise that not all the supermarkets and those who will be brought under the code object to the proposal. Supermarkets have been achieving record profits in the deepest recession, so to argue that they cannot afford it is rubbish.

I say to the hon. Member for Ogmore that speed is of the essence. The motion should be withdrawn in order that we send a strong message to the outside world.