CLA welcomes Queen’s Speech move on Supermarket Ombudsman but expresses Water Bill and compulsory purchase concerns
The CLA today (9 May) welcomed the Government's intention to appoint a Groceries Code Adjudicator – the long-awaited "Supermarket Ombudsman".
The Association has lobbied since 2003 for the creation of the role of Supermarket Ombudsman, and hailed today's confirmation in the Queen's Speech of a Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill to achieve this, in the next parliamentary session, as a "great day for suppliers".
CLA President Harry Cotterell said: "We very much hope the new office of Groceries Code Adjudicator will pave the way to a fairer system for suppliers, buyers and consumers.
"One of the key concerns farmers and land managers have faced is in resolving alleged infringements of trading conditions by supermarkets because, without an independent adjudicator, suppliers fear that if they complain about price cuts, they will lose their contracts."
He said: "We hope the Adjudicator will be able to bring about a fair balance between the interests of suppliers and retailers. It will be vital for the Adjudicator to have the power to fine supermarkets where trading standards have been breached. Without this sanction, it could become a toothless watchdog."
The CLA stressed that the freeing up of the water market proposed by the Draft Water Bill, also announced in the Queen's Speech, must not be allowed to damage agriculture.
The CLA President said: "While we welcome more competitive rates for businesses buying water, land managers need to receive their fair allocation. We must avoid the risk that, with rapid population growth and climate change, agriculture could find itself priced out of the water market.
"The introduction of environmental permits for abstraction, flooding and fishing consents may reduce the level of regulation but should also be treated with caution. Permits in the waste industry led to higher costs and more regulation for small businesses."
And the CLA said it was "very concerned" the Queen's Speech contained no mention of the Hybrid Bill previously promised by the Government to provide the necessary powers to construct and operate Phase One - London to West Midlands - of the HS2 railway link.
Mr Cotterell said: "We believe it is essential for the Government to prioritise the work needed to improve compulsory purchase conditions for owners of properties affected by HS2. The absence of a relevant Bill from the Queen's Speech casts grave doubt over the Government's intentions in this area."
Finally, the CLA noted the Energy Bill, also in the next raft of parliamentary legislation, is set to take the volatility out of income from the Feed-in Tariff for owners of anaerobic digesters and other low-carbon energy generation.
Mr Cotterell added: "Known and guaranteed income streams from these sources allow land managers to plan better for the future of their businesses."
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