§ Mr. Cormack
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what was the cost of running the Business Statistics Office in 1976–77;721W
(2) how many people were employed in the Business Statistics Office on 1st January 1978;
(3) how many circulars were issued by the Business Statistics Office during 1976 and 1977; how many were returned; and if he is satisfied that the replies conveyed accurate and necessary information.
§ Mr. Les Huckfield
The cost of running the Business Statistics Office in the financial year 1976–77 was £6.8 million. The number of people employed in the office on 1st January 1978 was 1,044. Forms are issued by the Business Statistics Office in respect of a number of statistical inquiries ranging in frequency from monthly to once every four or five years. 546,000 forms were issued in 1976 and 472,000 in 1977. Response rates vary for different inquiries, some of which are voluntary, but overall 451,000 of the forms issued in 1976 and 390,000 of those issued in 1977 were returned.
All new inquiries conducted by the Business Statistics Office have to be approved by the Survey Control Unit of the Central Statistical Office and finally by Ministers. These controls are designed to ensure that all inquiries are necessary and that they provide sufficiently accurate information, but if the hon. Gentleman has any contrary evidence I hope he will contact me.