A Labour MP has introduced a Private Members Bill to create an ombudsman for the grocery market, as the government has yet to act on recommendations from the Competition Commission.

Albert Owen, Labour MP for Yns Mon, has introduced a bill in order to provide a regulator that would arbitrate disputes and proactively investigate supermarket compliance with their code of practice. However, the ombudsman would not be able to intervene in negotiations between retailers and suppliers unless there is a breach in the Grocery Suppliers Code of Practice.

In August of this year, the Competition Commission formally recommended that Ministers create a Grocery Ombudsman following the failure to secure a voluntary agreement from supermarkets. An announcement by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills had
been expected before Christmas but has not materialised, leading to the Private Members Bill.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said that a Grocery Ombudsman would ensure fair trading in the sector.

“Local shops will benefit from the more competitive marketplace that can only be delivered by a Grocery Ombudsman with proactive powers to ensure fair dealing,” he said.

“This would not limit the supermarkets’ ability to drive keen bargains with their suppliers but
would benefit consumers by promoting choice and innovation in the marketplace.”

The Bill was not debated at its First Reading stage but it will be on the Order Paper for a Second Reading debate on March 5.

Topics