§ Ms Hewitt
[holding answer 27 March 2001]: I understand the hon. Member is referring to the statutory right of interest legislation.
We have continued to monitor payment times in the UK since the introduction of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. Recent surveys have provided encouraging signs of improvement.
Research published by Dun and Bradstreet last month shows that UK companies are now the second fastest in Europe for paying their bills on time. Although all national performances have improved since the previous surveys, UK companies produced the greatest improvement, identifying a continuing downward trend in UK payment times in recent years.
In addition, a quarterly survey published by the Credit Management Research Centre in March 2001 indicated a continued improvement in payment culture with larger firms exhibiting the most improved payment behaviour.