Clause 23 — Orders

Part of Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 26th February 2013.

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Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 4:31 pm, 26th February 2013

I will be quick, but let me start by returning the thanks to the Front-Bench team—the Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Jo Swinson, who I recall on Second Reading stamped her authority and said that we would not have fines in the Bill. We now have fines. They stamped their authority in Committee and said that they would not send the appointment of the adjudicator to the BIS Select Committee because it would be a dereliction of their parliamentary duty and was not an important enough position to be subject to a Select Committee pre-appointment hearing. I am delighted that Ministers have come round to our way of thinking. I am also delighted that they came round to the way of thinking of the other place by putting trade associations into the Bill. The Bill is far better now than when it first entered the House, and the Ministers listened to some close analysis and persuasion from the Opposition.

Let me right a wrong that happened in Committee. It is traditional at the end of Committee proceedings to thank all the officials, the Chair and everyone who has been involved in the Committee. I forgot to thank one person—my hon. Friend Huw Irranca-Davies—when I was wrapping up the Committee. He has done more in the House than many to get us to where we are today, and I would like to right that wrong by putting on record my thanks to him for everything that he has done and, of course, for his wonderful speech earlier today.

I have tried twice to thank Andrew George both in the Chamber on Second Reading and in Committee. Just before thanking him, he popped up and threw a wobbler at me of some description. I am delighted that I have been able to thank him today without him doing that.

Of course, my hon. Friend Albert Owen first brought the matter to the House in his private Member’s Bill, and it should be a proud moment for him today as we send the Bill to the palace for Royal Assent. The last two thanks are to everyone who served on the Committee. We had lively debates. I am disappointed that my hon. Friend Chris Ruane has not taken the opportunity to be in the Chamber. The Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, had been on her feet for only about 20 seconds in Committee when my hon. Friend popped up and suggested that we should call the new adjudicator Oftrolley. I could not let the moment pass without putting it on record that I am disappointed that he is not here.

We have used a lot of terminology such as “toothless tiger”, and there was a danger that the Bill would be that. The Bill now has teeth. There are still some things that Opposition Members would have added to the Bill, but unfortunately that has not come to pass. We hope that the Ministers will be amenable to changing the way in which the adjudicator works as the process beds in. There are problems with the code itself. The hon. Member for—is it East Bedfordshire?