The MP leading the appointment of the Groceries Code Adjudicator has rejected criticism that the watchdog will not have the power to fine offenders.

Speaking exclusively to The Grocer, MP Jo Swinson insisted that the reserve power to fine would be available. Although fines would need to be rubber-stamped by secretary of state Vince Cable, he would be guided by the adjudicator.

“The reserve power to fine is available in the existing legislation,” she said. “Clearly the GCA will be at the coalface and therefore in the best position to make recommendations for fines.”

Swinson was forced to defend the Bill in the House of Commons this week after MPs demanded the adjudicator had more powers to sanction offenders.

“We look forward to further discussions about amending the Bill to include this important provision,” said NFU head of government affairs Nick von Westenholz.

The appointment is expected to be announced in early December, while the legislation is expected to pass into law in mid-2013.