§ Mr. Boswell
[holding answer 16 July 1996]: During 1995 there were 96 statistical surveys to businesses conducted by MAFF and its agencies. Most of these were 264W fairly small and 38 had fewer than 100 addresses. A table setting out the surveys conducted and the number of businesses approached in 1995 will be placed in the Library of the House.
The Ministry has set targets to cut compliance cost of regular surveys to farmers in line with the recommendations of the deregulation task force. This will result in a reduction in compliance cost to farmers of some 35 per cent. in real terms in the four years up to 1998–99.
Notable achievements during 1995 included the introduction of sampling to the June census of agriculture and horticulture so that smaller farms need not be surveyed annually. Some 35,000 fewer forms were sent out in 1995. In addition, the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 was used to exempt small traders from having to make weekly returns under the Corn Returns Act of 1882, leading to a 40 per cent. reduction in compliance costs.