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14 Nov 2005

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated interest accrued to date on unpaid invoices for services provided by contractors during the 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic. [HL2008]

Lord Bach: None. Any invoices remaining unpaid are disputed legally, and the question of interest does not arise pending resolution of the fundamental disagreement as to the obligation to pay the principal sum.

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the outstanding amount still owed to contractors employed by the Government during the 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic; and whether such contractors will be entitled to claim interest under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. [HL2007]

Lord Bach: On the basis of the quantum, accounting, technical and legal advice received, there are no outstanding amounts owed to contractors engaged by the Government during the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak.

The Government are disputing payment in those cases where they believe on the basis of the professional advice that they have received that they were overcharged for goods, services and works during the foot and mouth disease outbreak. Invoices to the value of 5.1 million remain disputed and unpaid.

In all other cases, the department has paid businesses for the goods, services and works provided at its request in connection with the outbreak in 2001.

14 Nov 2005 : Column WA120

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many contractors employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs during the 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic have been taken to court; what were the results of any court proceedings; and what percentage of the total amount of contractors' invoices is involved in legal dispute proceedings. [HL2009]

Lord Bach: Five contractors engaged by the department during the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak have been taken to court. Three cases are the subject of High Court litigation. Two cases have been settled through alternative disputes resolution (ADR) mechanisms.

Just under 0.4 per cent. (5.1 million out of 1.288 billion) of the total amount of contractors' invoices is involved in legal dispute proceedings.