§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the President of the Board of Trade how her proposals for dealing with problems arising from late payment will protect small firms from immediate cash flow problems. 
§ Mrs. Roche
[holding answer 11 December 1997]: The Government are determined to ensure that small firms benefit from the increased competitiveness that a healthy cash flow can bring. That is why we are committed to changing the payment culture in the UK by bringing forward a comprehensive range of new proposals to tackle the late payment of commercial debt including legislation to give business a right to claim interest. The legislation, introduced on 10 December, will provide suppliers with a statutory right to claim interst on commercial debt.
The Government also recognise the importance of effective credit management in reducing the incidence of late payment and are working with all the main small firms organisations and representatives from the credit management, factoring and trade credit banking and insurance sectors to encourage business support organisations and others to assist small firms with their credit management procedures and to promote a better payment culture.