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Peter Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, says the progress of the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill, after its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday (Monday), is good news for Worcestershire farmers, growers and consumers.
The Bill establishing a “supermarket ombudsman” was announced in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year. It will increase protection for farmers and growers by preventing large retailers from altering their supply agreements and ensuring suppliers are paid within a reasonable time.

Speaking after the debate, Peter said,

“Once it becomes law next year, it will allow farmers and growers to raise legitimate disputes confidentially, without fear that they will be penalised for speaking up - which is what happens to too many growers now. It will give consumers reassurance that British food has been fairly produced.”

Peter contributed to the lively debate saying to the minister,

“This welcome legislation, like that which introduced the Gangmasters Licensing Authority some years ago, proves that effective and targeted regulation can help consumers and all those who work in supplying the food industry, but I am sure the Cabinet Office will have thought about deregulatory measures as well, as a quid pro quo for this regulatory measure.”

Peter then went on to ask the minister what progress the Government was making on the abolition of the Agriculture Wages Board, which will also help consumers and those who supply the industry.

Afterwards Peter commented,

“I know this Bill will make a real difference to my constituents, not only the growers and farmers who will receive increased protection but also to consumers who want to buy high quality food that has been responsibly sourced.

“I asked about the Agricultural Wages Board in the debate, because I know this is another area of concern for producers. The consultation on its abolition has recently closed and I look forward to hearing when the Government will finally dissolve this unnecessary bit of bureaucracy, now that the minimum wage arrangements give workers the protection they used to lack.”

The Minister for Agriculture, David Heath, concluded the debate saying that he was very pleased that Members from all parts of the House shared a desire to see a system in the supply chain that is fair to the producer, fair to the processor, fair to the retailer, and fair to the consumer.

The Bill will now pass on to the Committee Stage where it will be discussed clause by clause and amendments can be made.


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