Groceries Code Bill: Lords report stage

17 July 2012

The Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill had its report stage, a further chance for line by line scrutiny, yesterday (Monday 16 July). There were two divisions (votes) in the chamber.

Members examined the role and powers of a groceries code adjudicator, who will enforce the groceries code and ensure that large supermarket retailers treat their suppliers fairly and lawfully.

The first vote took place over Amendment Two, which proposed inserting a new clause about the Groceries Supply Order after Clause One.

Lord Granchester (Labour), who has an interest in farming, moved the amendment and highlighted that the 'code does not cover the whole supply chain'.

He used the dairy industry as an example, referring to last week's protests by farmers: 'Last Wednesday, more than 2,500 dairy farmers came to Parliament to make public the cuts and their concerns about a drop in prices of more than 10 per cent on short notice this spring. At present, this situation is not covered by the code, which only covers the relationship between the top retailers and their immediate suppliers,' he said. 

The vote resulted in a government win with 164 members voting 'for' and 195 'against' the suggested new clause.

The second division took place on Amendment 11A to Clause Six moved by Lord Knight of Weymouth (Labour) addressing the powers of the adjudicator and their role in recommending action to the Secretary of State.

He said: 'If we do not pass this amendment, the adjudicator will begin without the powers that he wants and without the teeth that we need as the threat to make sure that people abide by this code.'

Lord Knight of Weymouth called a vote which resulted in 186 'content' votes, agreeing with the change, and 217 'not content' votes, against the change.

The bill now awaits its third reading stage, the final chance for the Lords to debate and change the contents of the bill.

The Groceries Adjudicator Bill so far

About the Groceries Adjudicator Bill

The bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 10 May and examines the practices of larger supermarket chains with their suppliers, including farmers and small-scale producers.

Following a report published by the Competition Commission in 2008 concerns were raised that retailers were demanding retrospective charges from suppliers and altering contractual arrangements.

The new groceries code will apply to the UK's ten 'large' retailers, each with a turnover of more than one billion pounds in groceries. The code will ensure that retailers:

  • deal fairly and lawfully with suppliers
  • do not vary supply agreements retrospectively
  • pay suppliers within a reasonable time.

What is report stage?

Report stage gives all members of the Lords further opportunity to examine and make changes, known as amendments, to a bill.
 
Report stage usually starts 14 days after committee stage. It can be spread over several days (but usually fewer days than at committee stage).
 
Before report stage starts, all member's amendments are recorded and published. The day before a report stage debate the amendments are grouped into related subjects and placed in order - a marshalled list.

During report stage detailed line by line examination of the bill continues. Any member of the Lords can take part and votes can take place.
 
After report stage the bill is reprinted to include all the agreed amendments. The bill then moves to third reading for the final chance for the Lords to debate and amend the bill.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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