Clause 23 — Orders

Part of Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 4:23 pm on 26th February 2013.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:23 pm, 26th February 2013

Thank you for that timely reminder, Mr Deputy Speaker. I shall be brief in my list of thanks.

I thank Mr Bailey for what he just said. I also thank his Committee and the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for their work on improving the Bill.

I want to start with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary who, as the hon. Gentleman says, has done a superb job of listening to people as the Bill has made progress. She took up a baton that was already well on its way thanks to her predecessor, now the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to Mrs Spelman as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and to my immediate predecessor, Sir James Paice. I can exclusively reveal that there was a conspiracy within government, of which I was part in my previous role as Deputy Leader of the House, to ensure that the Bill made progress whatever other priorities arose as we all felt that it was important.

I also want to mention the contribution of a few others who are not in government. It was a delight to find myself so often in the Lobby with my hon. Friend Andrew George, and he has campaigned vigorously for the measure as chair of the grocery market action group. I stood shoulder to shoulder with him when we were in opposition to make it a reality and his efforts have been appreciated. I hope he feels that they have been rewarded as the Bill reaches the statute book.

Albert Owen has long pressed for the adjudicator, including in his private Member’s Bill. His pleas fell on deaf ears at the time, but now all is sweetness and light and the Opposition are united with us in taking the Bill forward. I should add, as I am trying to be as consensual as possible, that I know from what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has said that colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench made debates in Committee enjoyable and that they made a genuine contribution. As they know, we have listened to what they have had to say and have on occasion been able to agree with them. That goes for Ian Murray and Huw Irranca-Davies, who often secretly agree with me but sometimes cannot express it openly—