Thank you, Mr Hood.
The hon. Lady had all of us in the Chamber nodding in agreement and support. We all—from all the parties, and all the nations represented here—want to do more to support small and medium-sized businesses, but such businesses in my constituency, and, I am sure, in the hon. Lady’s, do not want us to engage in party politics. They want us to work together and not to make party points.
I know that time is short and others want to speak, but I want to focus on an issue that has been raised with me in my constituency several times. We all go and talk to people who run small businesses, who tell us that things are tough, but that they are surviving. They tell us about difficulties with finance and the banks, and they have faced difficulties with late payments for many years. My family had a small engineering business and had to endure the “cheque in the post” argument when we chased payment of invoices after waiting a long time. However, a new phenomenon has begun to hit businesses in my constituency, and elsewhere. Large companies are arbitrarily extending their supplier payment terms. In recent months some larger businesses have decided to extend their normal payment terms of 30 days to 60, 90 or, in some cases, 120 days. Small businesses, which are desperate for the contract and do not want to lose the potential for future business, must live with having to finance an extra two or three months while they wait for payment.
I pay tribute to the Federation of Small Businesses, which has done a great deal of work on the issue.