[Mr Jim Hood in the Chair] — Late Payments (SMEs)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:33 am on 14th September 2011.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 10:33 am, 14th September 2011

How could I possibly disagree with such a fantastic suggestion?

The Government need to be ever vigilant in enforcing the public sector targets because the figures obtained by the Opposition in July showed that seven Departments had not paid around £3.5 billion worth of invoices within the five-day prompt payment target. The Government must improve their monitoring of Departments to see whether they are meeting the target. At the moment, monitoring is quite patchy.

Lorely Burt said that the prompt-payment target should be enforced all the way down the supply chain, and I could not agree more. The EU directive has also been mentioned. Although some Conservative Members are not famed for their love of Brussels, the Minister himself is. Perhaps he will ensure that the EU late-payment directive is transposed some time before the March 2013 deadline.

In conclusion, successful firms with sound business models are going under because customers abuse their position of power and disregard their contractual obligations to pay on time. Given that we all agree that SMEs have a key role to play in contributing to the future prosperity of the country—I should be careful to say here that I know that the micro, the small and the medium-sized business are all very different—we must do all we can to ensure that they are paid in a timely manner.