§ Mr. Merchant
To ask the President of the Board of Trade when his Department intends to publish the consultative document, referred to in the recent competitiveness White Paper Three, on the question of whether public limited companies should be required to report details of their payment practice in their accounts. 
§ Mr. Page
The Government recognise that late payment is a serious problem for small businesses and sire committed to tackling it. With the aim of helping to promote a "prompt payment culture", the DTI has been developing proposals on providing more public information about the payment practices of public limited companies.
A consultative document outlining our proposal for extending the Companies Act 1985 payment policy disclosure to cover payment practice as well is being published today. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the Houses.
The consultative document sets out the method to be followed when reporting payment practice and includes draft regulations, which would be introduced next Session, if supported by the results of the consultation. Comments should be submitted to the company law directorate at the DTI by 27 September.