Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill clears Commons

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The Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill has cleared the Commons after MPs completed report stage and third reading on 26 February 2013.

The bill sets up an adjudicator to oversee and enforce a "Groceries Code" and mediate in disputes between supermarkets and suppliers.

The bill will now go back to the House of Lords for peers to consider MPs' amendments to the legislation.

Once both Houses agree on the final wording of the bill it will go for Royal Assent, and become law.

There were votes on several amendments at report stage - but all were rejected.

MPs voted by a 442-majority against a move that would have meant large suppliers could not refer cases to the adjudicator. The amendment was championed by Conservative backbenchers Philip Davies and David Nuttall.

A bid by Labour to require the Office of Fair Trading to publish a response to the adjudicator's rulings was voted down by 253 votes to 200.

Similarly, an opposition proposal to require the adjudicator to report any concern over food safety was rejected by 54 votes.

At third reading, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister David Heath said the bill would ensure that large retailers treat their suppliers "lawfully and fairly".

Ian Murray, Labour's spokesman for business and innovation, said the legislation had been improved by the opposition during its passage through Parliament.

Mark Spencer, the Conservative MP for Sherwood, said the coalition should be "very proud" of bringing forward legislation that "levels the playing field".

But Conservative MP Philip Davies described the bill as a "load of old duff".

He said the bill was being pursued on a "false premise" and raised concerns that the proposed legislation would interfere with the free market.

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