HARTLEBURY’S MP says the progress of a parliamentary Bill to introduce a “supermarket ombudsman” is good news for Worcestershire farmers, growers and consumers.

Conservative Peter Luff, who represents Mid Worcestershire at Westminster, spoke after the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday. The Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year, is intended to increase protection for farmers and growers by preventing large retailers from altering their supply agreements and ensuring suppliers are paid within a reasonable time.

Speaking after the Commons debate, Mr Luff said: “Once it becomes law next year, it will allow farmers and growers to raise legitimate disputes confidentially, without fear that they will be penalised for speaking up, which is what happens to too many growers now.

“It will give consumers reassurance that British food has been fairly produced.”

During the debate he told Minister for Agriculture, David Heath: “This welcome legislation, like that which introduced the Gangmasters Licensing Authority some years ago, proves that effective and targeted regulation can help consumers and all those who work in supplying the food industry but I am sure the Cabinet Office will have thought about deregulatory measures as well, as a quid pro quo for this regulatory measure.”

He later said: “I know this Bill will make a real difference to my constituents, not only the growers and farmers who will receive increased protection but also to consumers who want to buy high-quality food that has been responsibly sourced.”

The Bill will now pass to the Committee Stage, where it will be discussed clause by clause and amendments can be made.