NFU Scotland has branded the UK Government’s response to the Business, Innovation, and Skills Committee report on the Draft Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill, as published over the weekend, as extremely disappointing.
Whilst some of the Select Committee’s smaller recommendations for change to the draft Bill have been accepted, the Union’s primary concern has not been adequately addressed. That is, that the bill does not go far enough to tackle the climate of fear that exists among suppliers and processors feeding into the retail sector.
NFU Scotland still believes that without guaranteed anonymity suppliers will not risk bringing instances of abuses of power to the attention of an adjudicator.
Chief Executive of NFU Scotland, Scott Walker, said:
“It is extremely disappointing that the UK Government have rejected some important recommendations for positive change to the draft Bill.
“While the bill remains hugely important, and is a step forward in terms of ensuring greater transparency within the food sector, the opportunity that is there to ensure this bill makes a real difference to the working lives of retail suppliers is in danger of being missed.
“The climate of fear that has existed for many years within the food sector is well documented, and understandably many suppliers are loath to complain when so much of their output may be directed at a single buyer. With this in mind, the one recommendation we just can not understand being rejected is the option for third parties to make complaint on behalf of a supplier. Without this additional layer of anonymity the likelihood of any complaints being made remains miniscule.
“Even at this late hour, we would urge the Government to think again, and look at taking on board the recommendation that information provided by third party sources should be enough to trigger an investigation. Without this being permissible, we see very little being done to encourage suppliers and processors to make a complaint when they feel they are being subjected to abuses of power.”