MPs urged to back ombudsman Bill

MPs have been urged to support plans to set up a supermarket ombudsman ahead of a second reading of a draft Bill.

The NFU said the introduction of a retailer watchdog was the only way the Grocery Suppliers’ Code of Practice (PDF), introduced last month, would be properly enforced.

It urged MPs to support the Bill when it went before the House of Commons for a second reading on Friday (5 March).

Terry Jones, NFU head of government affairs, said: “This bill provides a short cut to Government, to introduce an ombudsman so that suppliers have an independent, confidential means of reporting bad practice.”

Mr Jones said the union wanted “bullyboy tactics” such as retrospective demands for money and changes to trading terms to remain a thing of the past.

“There is a real danger that if the risks of retail supply begin to outweigh the rewards that suppliers will throw in the towel,” he added.

“But the new GSCOP, working hand in hand with an ombudsman, should provide greater certainty for producers and mean they have confidence to invest in their businesses which will benefit consumers through increased choice and availability.”