§ Mr. David Nicholson
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.
§ Mr. Forth
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.648W
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.