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Clause 3 - Information about arbitration

Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 11th December 2012.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

As we have just heard, if a supplier refers a dispute to arbitration under the Groceries (Supply Chain Practices) Market Investigation Order 2009, the adjudicator must either arbitrate the dispute or appoint someone else to do so. That means they will gain a greater understanding of how the code is operating.

Clause 3 ensures that the adjudicator will still be able to access that information, even if he or she appoints another person to arbitrate. Subsection (1) enables the adjudicator to obtain information on an arbitration carried out by an alternative arbitrator by establishing a requirement that any person appointed by the adjudicator  to act as an arbitrator, or any party to the dispute, must provide the adjudicator with information if the adjudicator so requires.

Subsection (2) establishes that the requirement to provide information may be enforced by bringing civil proceedings in England, Wales or Northern Ireland to obtain an injunction, or in Scotland to obtain an order for specific performance.

The clause will ensure that the adjudicator is able to access the information that he or she needs to facilitate his or her duties, ensuring that the adjudicator is not disadvantaged by appointing someone else to arbitrate a dispute. The confidentiality of the parties to an arbitration is protected by clause 18(1).

Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

We have no difficulties with this welcome clause. As we may move subsequent amendments, we particularly welcome the provisions because, should we have a live code where the adjudicator is able not only simply to learn from its current remit, as prescribed by the groceries code, but to report back on the role of intermediaries, and should the Minister smile on those amendments, the clause will not only stand the Bill in good stead but stand the amendments in good stead, too.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

The Committee will be aware that we have agreed with the Minister whenever she has moved a stand part debate, but she has yet to agree with us. This is the third time that we will not get in the way of a clause standing part of the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore is absolutely right: we are enthusiastic about the clause not only because it is in plain English but because when we consider later clauses it will help us to put together a proposal to make this a live code. Clause 3 makes the Bill live in itself, so we will not stand in its way.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.