No fewer than three Early Day Motions (EDMs) about supermarket power have been tabled in the past fortnight. Labour MPs David Drew and Lindsay Hoyle tabled an EDM stressing the importance of retail diversity, expressing concern about the closure of local independent stores and calling on the OFT to reconsider its decision on a market review.
Leicester Labour MP Keith Vaz has introduced an EDM calling for an independent regulator to be appointed to protect small stores from powerful supermarkets. A further motion - sponsored by Labour, Lib Dem and SDLP politicians - expresses concern about the perceived inability of the supermarket Code of Practice to deal with short-notice supplier delisting, such as Asda’s decision to cease working with supplier Ferndale Foods.
The EDMs have no power in law, but are a form of parliamentary petition that MPs can sign to show their support for a particular issue or stance. In a further development, Mike Hancock, Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South, asked Competition Minister Gerry Sutcliffe how many members of the public and organisations had complained to the DTI about Tesco’s market share and the supermarket Code of Practice. In response, Sutcliffe said that the department had received “a considerable number of representations from the public, pressure groups and companies on the structure of the grocery market and the supermarket Code of Practice”.
He added: “Competition in the supermarket and grocery sectors is a matter for the independent competition authorities, in this case the Office of Fair Trading.”