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Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he plans to take in response to the withdrawal of cheques as a method of payment; and if he will make a statement. (290823)

I have been asked to reply.

The National Payments Council are not considering phasing out cheques as a method of payment, but only whether it would be sensible to set a long-term date for closing the use of a cheque clearing system.

In the National Payments Plan, the Payments Council committed to conducting initial research and analysis into the future of cheques as a method of payment, with the aims of:

understanding the barriers to cheque substitution;

identifying the areas where work is needed on acceptable alternatives to cheques; and,

clarifying where more education is needed on existing alternatives.

The Payments Council is committed to being open and transparent in its review of the future of the cheque clearing and even if a timescale were to be set, various milestones would need to be agreed and delivered before any final decision would be taken to irrevocably close cheque operations.