Consumer minister Edward Davey has announced plans to release a draft bill on the Groceries Code Adjudicator before Parliament’s Easter recess begins on 6 April.

The move will boost campaigners’ hopes that the much-anticipated regulator could be in place as early as next year.

“It’s good news about the draft bill,” said Andrew George, the Liberal Democrat lead MP on the environment and climate change. “What I am seeking [from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills] is a rapid movement from the draft bill to an actual proposed bill.”

He added: “The proposal has all-party support, has already been debated very heavily and investigated by a succession of enquiries over the last decade.

“The Grocery Suppliers’ Code of Practice has been in existence for a year but is without any means of enforcement and the longer it remains that way the longer we have ineffective regulation.”

George also called for any consultation to be kept short, with a view to finalising the legislation before the parliamentary summer recess.

“I don’t see any need for any further delays,” he said. “I’m pressing the minister to introduce the proposed bill and complete this legislation within this parliamentary session, as I would like to see the GCA up and running by early 2012.

“I’m becoming increasingly optimistic that might happen, but I am not relenting on the pressure that I am placing on the department. There is an urgent need to move forward as quickly as possible.”

The ACS welcomed the development. “We are glad there is finally a timetable for the bill,” said public affairs director Shane Brennan. “We look forward to getting it pushed through as soon as possible.”

The BIS could offer no guarantees on timescales, but a spokesman confirmed it was “hopeful” that the full proposed bill would be released during this parliamentary session and passed through quickly.

Read more
Coalition says it is sticking with consultations over Adjudicator (25 September 2010)
Naming by adjudicator will be a ‘serious discipline’ for multiples (27 August 2010)