§ Mr. Elletson
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of bills are paid on time by Government Departments; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Heseltine
Government Departments and their agencies are required to monitor their payment performance and publish the results in their annual reports. The following table lists by Department the proportion of bills paid within the agreed credit period, or within 30 days where no credit period has been agreed, for 1993–94.
The Government recognise that late payment is a serious problem, particularly for small businesses, and it is essential that the Government set an example. Though Government payment performance continues to improve overall, there remains room for further improvement.
New measures were announced in the White Paper on competitiveness. Government Departments and their agencies will now be required to:abide by the CBI prompt payers code;set out in their annual reports their payment policies and to state whether they have observed the principles of the CBI code, andpublicise their arrangements for handling complaints of failure to pay on time.
The Government expect all other public sector bodies to follow their lead.
Department/agency Per cent. invoices paid within target Benefits Agency 94.0 Cabinet Office/OPSS 78.0 Central Statistical Office 77.0 COI 83.0 Crown Prosecution Service 82.0 Customs and Excise 90.0 Defence 99.9 Education 80.0 Employment Department/ACAS 95.6 Employment Service 85.4 Environment 90.0 Foreign and Commonwealth Office 95.0 Health and Safety Executive 89.6 Health 87.1 HMSO 80.0 Home Office 72.0 Inland Revenue 86.0 Lord Chancellor's 89.4 MAFF 85.0 National Heritage 85.0 National Savings 97.6 Northern Ireland Office and NICS 92.0 Overseas Development Administration 88.0 Paymaster General 96.3 Registry of Friendly Societies 95.0 Scottish Office 89.0 Social Security 94.0 Trade and Industry 90.0 Transport 93.6 Treasury 93.0 Welsh Office 87.0