Competition minister Gerry Sutcliffe today confirmed that he was keeping close tabs on the raging debate surrounding the growing power of supermarkets.

Speaking at a fringe event in Brighton for the Labour Party Conference this afternoon, Sutcliffe refused to deny weekend reports that he was going to initiate a new inquiry into the food retail sector, instead brandishing the reports as speculation.

He told the fringe meeting that he was interested in fair competition, not free competition, that provided consumers with choice.