I am in the rather unusual position of speaking to my new clauses and in effect winding up the debate at the same time, but it is a challenge I relish.
There have been some very valuable contributions to the debate. I reiterate my admiration of the campaign on late payments led my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams). She has been a really doughty fighter on the issue, and there is no doubt that late payment is a key factor in holding back small business growth. Suppliers frequently report that it is one of the key hurdles that they face, alongside access to finance, because small businesses do not have the cash flow buffers of their large competitors.
The hon. Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer) has been forced to leave his place—he arrived in rather a rush and left in rather a rush. Let us hope he is properly dressed when he returns. He said, rather ungenerously, that I was in a lonely position as a Labour Member in having run a small business. However, we all know that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) was a small business owner, as were my hon. Friends the Members for Ochil and South Perthshire (Gordon Banks) and for Sefton Central (Bill Esterson) and many of my other colleagues. And so are several of Labour’s parliamentary candidates, who we hope will be joining us here in just a few months. Conservative Members often try to create the impression that they are the only ones who have ever been in business and that all Labour Members were previously engaged in social work, school teaching or whatever they think is not worthy.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Anna Soubry)
Nothing wrong with that.