George – supermarket watchdog must come ‘sooner rather than later’

The MP who chairs the national Grocery Market Action Group (GMAG) Andrew George, has today used a debate in the House of Commons to again call on the Government to ‘waste no more time’ creating a supermarket watchdog to protect the interests of consumers and suppliers.

During the debate Mr George highlighted that the Competition Commission’s original report had been published in 2000 and that in April 2008 their second report had warned that practices by the big supermarkets were transferring ‘excessive risk and unexpected costs’ to suppliers and that if action was taken these practices would ‘have an adverse effect on investment and innovation in the supply chain, and ultimately on consumers’. Mr George noted that new rules governing fair business practices in the supply chain were introduced in February 2010 but said that unless the Government act to create the watchdog there was no one in place to ensure the new rules are enforced.

Mr George went on to note that at the last general election all three main parties had pledged to act to create the watchdog and that an inquiry by the Business, Innovation, and Skills Select Committee published in October 2011 had also urged Ministers to legislate as necessary.

Mr George said:

“The call for a supermarket watchdog has cross-party support. The previous government failed to act but the Coalition Government has no excuse for any further delay.

“Some of the large supermarkets still object. But, if they have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear.

“Each and every day of delay risks the supermarket watchdog being introduced a day too late for those food producers who are already going out of business as a direct result of the market distorting power wielded by the large supermarkets.”

Mr George has led the campaign for the creation of a supermarket watchdog since 2000. The GMAG includes in its membership the National Farmers’ Union, the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland, the British Independent Fruit Growers Association, Friends of the Earth, ActionAid, Traidcraft, the Association of Convenience Stores and others.

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