Neil Parish calls for penalties imposed under the Groceries Code to be commensurate with the size of the company being fined

Neil Parish welcomes the speedy progress of the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill and speaking in relation to a Lords amendment regarding the imposition of fines, he urges that the level of any fine imposed on a company is commensurate with the size of that company.| Parliament TV

Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): I rise to support other Members who have spoken, especially my right hon. Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Sir James Paice), who has supported the Bill throughout and did a great job as Minister. I also echo what my hon. Friend the Member for St Ives (Andrew George) said about the Bill, although I do not necessarily welcome his comments about the Agricultural Wages Board—but I will not go into that debate.I congratulate the Minister on listening throughout this whole process, including in Committee, in order to improve the Bill. I also thank the shadow Minister for his co-operation. The Committee and the House have worked extremely well to bring forward this Bill.

I again echo the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire, who said we have to consider a level of fine that is commensurate with the size of the company committing the felony.

We have to be clear about that. It will matter, because this is not only about naming and shaming. If the public see that a large fine has been imposed on a large supermarket in this country, they will start to realise what kind of bad practices have been carried out. Many of our producers, farmers and growers have suffered so much abuse over the years, especially when it comes to perishable goods, whereby supermarkets and others have suddenly decided that they have enough strawberries or whatever and will not buy those crops, or they find some other reason not to buy them. Those crops then have to be destroyed, at a loss to the farmer or grower. That is an abuse by supermarkets and others of their power. We therefore very much welcome the Bill and look forward to seeing what level of fine will be imposed on the companies that abuse their powers.

I am hopeful that the fact that the groceries code adjudicator is in place will stop most of the abuses that have been committed. If that is what having the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill achieves, that is far better than fining lots of companies. We want to see bad practice ruled out and good practice put in its place. I am hopeful that that is exactly what the Bill will do. I therefore very much welcome the Lords amendment, but I also welcome the fact that the Bill has made such quick progress through the Lords to come back here to the Commons. I therefore hope we can get it on the statute book as quickly as possible.| Hansard| Parliament TV