HC Deb 12 December 1966 vol 738 cc6-7
5. Mrs. Knight

asked the Minister of Labour by what authority a member of his Statistics Department in a letter dated 19th July, 1966, threatened Mr. H. S. Cave, furnishing director of Edgbaston, with fines of £50 and £200.

Mr. Gunter

Mr. Cave was not threatened. His firm was asked to provide information about earnings and numbers employed on inquiry forms sent out under the Statistics of Trade Act, 1947, In a letter to my Department, Mr. Cave asked what penalties could be imposed for noncompliance and the reply gave him the information requested.

Mrs. Knight

Is the Minister aware that I have this letter, which is very definitely a threatening letter, and that I shall be glad to show it to him afterwards? Has the right hon. Gentleman any conception of the burdens which are heaped on small businesses by various Government Departments? Does he not realise that these two forms, which are obviously designed by a statistical sadist, incorporate about 100 questions and that I feel that my constituents ought not to be bludgeoned by threats into being an unpaid servant of his Department?

Mr. Gunter

I can only say that if the hon. Lady regards this letter, which I have read carefully—I have a copy of it with me, too—as a threat, she has never been seriously threatened in her life. Her constituent asked to be told what the penalties were, and that is what we told him. On the other part of the supplementary question, if my memory serves me aright on one of these so-called "diabolical" forms all that the gentleman had to do was to fill up three lines.

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