MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee have demanded the Groceries Code Adjudicator’s (GCA) remit be extended to cover the ‘whole food supply chain’.
Chair of the committee Neil Parish has written to Defra Secretary Michael Gove and Business Secretary Greg Clark to press for the changes.
In 2016, the Government announced it would look at giving the GCA the ability to explore unfair trading practices across the whole supply chain after pressure from industry.
At the moment, the adjudicator is bankrolled by a levy on 10 UK retailers with an annual turnover of more than £1 billion, and it only provides legal protection for direct suppliers to those retailers.
Calling on both Ministers to support an extension of the GCA’s remit to include indirect suppliers, Mr Parish said: “This appears to us to be an eminently sensible suggestion and is one with which we agree in principle.
“I would be grateful if, on receipt of this letter, you provide us with a written submission setting out the Government’s policy position and share with us copies of any impact assessments (or similar) undertaken on the proposal.”
Mr Parish also blasted Ministers for the delay in responding to a Government consultation on the extension of the remit, which closed in January last year.
He said: “We see no acceptable reason why publication of the Government response to this consultation has taken over 12 months.
“We request you take all practicable steps to ensure a full Government response to the consultation is published as soon as possible, and no later than the start of the parliamentary recess in February.”
Although there is popular support among farming groups for an extension of the GCA’s remit, the adjudicator herself, Christine Tacon, has questioned how her office would be funded if she were to be given extra powers.
And earlier this year at the Oxford Real Farming Conference, Mr Gove appeared to dampen hopes of wholesale change, saying the upcoming reform would not be ‘dramatic’.