§ Mr. Forman
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will set out the purposes and reasons for carrying out the inquiry into retail trading for 1976, including an estimate of the total cost to public funds.
§ Mr. Meacher
The purpose of the retailing inquiry to be held for 1976 in 1977 is to provide statistics needed by both Government and outside users. In particular, the Government need information on stocks, capital expenditure and sales of each type of commodity for use in compiling the national accounts and monitoring developments in the economy. Outside users are interested, for example, in sales of individual commodities, the relation of persons engaged to turnover by kinds of business, and in gross margins for different kinds of business. The information to be collected on credit will be used as a basis for monitoring changes in the pattern of credit trading arising from the Consumer Credit Act. The Business Statistics Office has estimated its costs in holding and processing the inquiry as approximately £400,000 at current costings.
§ Mr. Hall-Davis
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the total number of staff engaged upon the collection and analysis of data in connection with the "Inquiry into Retail Trading for 1976"; what will be the total cost of the inquiry; what is its purpose; and when the results will be published.
§ Mr. Meacher
Many of the staff working on this inquiry will not be employed exclusively on it; it is estimated that the collection and analysis of data will take on average about 25 staff for a two-year period excluding the time of operational staff involved in the computer processing of the results. The purpose and cost of the inquiry were given in my reply to the hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Forman) today. It is hoped that provisional results of the inquiry will be published by the end of 1977 with more890W complete final results published during 1978.