HL Deb 28 July 2000 vol 616 cc130-2WA
Lord Stone of Blackheath

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proportion of bills were paid on time by government departments and their agencies during financial year 1999–2000. [HL3736]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville

I am pleased to announce that there has been a further improvement in the payment performance of central government as a whole. The overall payment performance shows that 97.8 per cent of suppliers' bills were paid on time and departments are making good progress towards meeting the 100 per cent target set for this financial year.

There is no room for complacency. It is particularly important that the public sector sets an example to business and is seen to pay its bills on time. I am disappointed to see that a number of departments and agencies failed to meet this year's target of 100 per cent. I have taken steps to remind all departments and agencies of the importance of paying suppliers' bills on time and meeting the target.

I am particularly disappointed at my own department's failure to meet the target. It is unacceptable that the department which has overall responsibility for the Government's policy on prompt payment should itself fail to meet the target. My officials are introducing new measures designed to ensure that the DTI meets the target as soon as possible this year.

The Government are committed to improving the UK's payment culture. Late payment is a serious problem, particularly for small businesses. Not knowing when the customers' bills will be paid means uncertain cashflow, increased borrowings, higher costs and reduced profits.

Government departments and their agencies are required to monitor their payment performance and to publish the results in their departmental or annual reports. The following table lists, by department, the proportion of bills paid within 30 days, or other agreed credit period, of receipt of a valid invoice for financial year 1999–2000.

Government Departments Payment Performance 1999–2000
Main Departments Paid on Time (Percentage)
National Weights & Measures Laboratory1 100.00
National Investment and Loans Office 100.00
Privy Council Office 100.00

Government Departments Payment Performance 1999–2000
Main Departments Paid on Time (Percentage)
Radiocommunications Agency1 99.98
Registry of Friendly Societies 99.90
Ministry of Defence 99.77
Department for Culture, Media and Sport 99.59
Land Registry 99.26
Patent Office1 99.13
Office of Water Services 99.07
Public Records Office 99.06
Ordnance Survey 98.90
Government Actuary's Department 98.84
Export Credit Guarantee Department 98.60
Insolvency Service1 98.56
HM Treasury 98.51
Office for National Statistics 98.51
Office of Fair Trading 98.49
Office for Standards in Education 98.40
Office of the Rail Regulator 98.20
HM Customs & Excise 98.06
Inland Revenue 97.98
NI Dept. Health Estates 97.95
Foreign & Commonwealth Office 97.90
Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce 97.81
Office of Telecommunications 97.68
Health & Safety Executive 97.58
Northern Ireland Office 97.56
Crown Prosecution Service 97.50
Lord Chancellor's Department 97.42
Charity Commission 97.39
Department for Education & Employment 97.31
Forestry Commission 97.30
NI Dept of Education 97.28
Government Communications HQ 97.14
PFO (GCHQ) 97.14
Department for National Savings 97.10
Department for International Development 96.82
Office of the Parliamentry Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioners 96.48
Home Office 96.34
NI Court Service 96.32
Cabinet Office (OPS) 96.24
Department of Health 95.28
Department of Social Security 95.14
Shadow Strategic Rail Authority 94.78
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions 94.70
Serious Fraud Office 94.49
Royal Parks Agency2 94.00
NI Dept. Environment inc. agencies 93.05
Treasury Solicitors Department 93.05
Department of Trade and Industry 93.00
Employment Tribunal Service1 93.00
NI Dept of Agriculture & Rural Development 92.83
Companies House1 92.34
Royal Mint 91.00
NI Department of Finance and Personnel 90.22
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food 89.51
Overall Total 97.89
1 Are Agencies of the Department of Trade and Industry
2 Is an Agency in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport