§ Mr. Michael Marshall
asked the Secretar of State for Social Services upon what criteria and by whose authority inquiries are undertaken by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys for (a) long-term studies and (b) short-term studies.
§ Mr. Moyle
Surveys are undertaken by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys only after careful discussion with Departments. The technical matters discussed include the overall design of the survey, the availability of a satisfactory sampling frame covering the population to be approached, the practicability of framing suitable questions on the topic involved—including an assessment of their acceptability to informants—and the length of time it would take to complete the work. It has to be agreed that there is a satisfactory method of conducting the 491W survey and that the likely cost of the inquiry is not disproportionate to the purposes it will serve. The sponsoring Department will satisfy itself on some basic criteria, namely, that the data required cannot by any feasible method be obtained from existing sources and that the survey can be shown to lead to a more effective use of its resources or that the information to be obtained is essential for consideration of policy.
Authority for the survey is given in reply to a written request to the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys from the sponsoring Department. This letter accepts policy responsibility for the survey, acknowledges the cost and confirms that the Department has consulted its own finance division about the request. Within the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys a survey has to be authorised by the Deputy Director, acting on advice from the head of social survey division and from the finance officer. Above a certain sum Treasury authority has to be obtained. The total sum of money to be scent on surveys by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys is, of course, constrained by its Vote.
The criteria applied and the methods of seeking authority are the same for both long- and short-term studies.