The Government has published its draft Groceries Adjudicator Bill which aims to referee between grocers and suppliers.

The Government has now invited pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill by Parliament.

Consumer Minister Edward Davey said: “Preventing unfair practices and increasing certainty for suppliers will safeguard consumer interests, as large retailers won’t be able to take advantage of their position of power, as set out in the code.

“This is an important step towards establishing the Groceries Code Adjudicator, which the Government is strongly committed to.”

The British Retail Consortium has hit out at the decision to proceed with legislation, saying it will increase costs for consumers.

Food director Andrew Opie said: “Food prices are already under considerable pressure from rising global commodity costs and climbing fuel and utility prices. Retailers are doing their best to cushion consumers from the full impact of these increases. The extra costs of dealing with a new administrative body will make it even harder to keep price rises away from shop shelves.

“The Bill says the adjudicator will cost only £800,000 a year to run, to be paid for by the ten biggest food retailers. If the Government really believes a public body can be run that cheaply it should cap the charges imposed on them at that level and commit to funding any extra costs itself.”