To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received calling for legislation to help alleviate the problems caused to small businesses by the slow payment of bills; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment and I have both received representations for legislation from individual small business owners and managers, trade and other associations and from hon. Members. Although I understand the frustrations felt by small businesses because of delayed payments I remain to be convinced that legislation would be effective. The majority of organisations representing small firms share the Government's view that the effect of a legislative approach would be, at best, minimal and could even be damaging to the small firms sector. I have made it known, however, that I would be interested to receive views on how an effective legislative framework might operate.
My Department will continue to address late payment through a strategy of persuasion and education and, in addition to a number of measures already in place. I am keeping the issue under close review.