The Irish parliament’s Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business has recommended that there should be no changes to the Groceries Order which bans below-cost selling, the broadcaster RTE reported.

In a report on the grocery sector published, the committee also said that a cap on the size of supermarkets should be retained.

Committee chairman Donie Cassidy said changes to the cap could result in the country’s towns becoming wildernesses as supermarkets re-located to the outskirts of towns.

The committee recommended that any future changes to the cap should be not be made by ministerial order but through new legislation.

Overall the committee found that price of groceries was between 5% and 15% dearer in the Irish Republic than in Northern Ireland and Britain. This was blamed on the high cost of overheads such as insurance, wages and waste disposal.

The government recently decided to introduce new retail planning guidelines which will allow for the opening of large-scale retail outlets in certain parts of the country. This relates to warehouse developments such as Ikea, but not supermarkets.