§ Malcolm Bruce
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the cost to business of the statistical inquiries of businesses carried out by the Office for National Statistics in 2002; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Ruth Kelly
[holding answer 6 November 2003]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.
Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Malcolm Bruce, dated 17 November 2003:
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question concerning the cost to business of the statistical inquiries of businesses carried out by the Office for National Statistics in 2002. I am replying in his absence.(136798)
The overall compliance costs to business are controlled within limits agreed by Treasury Ministers and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Each year ONS produces a Compliance Plan to help monitor and control the load on businesses of its statistical surveys. It also includes information on initiatives to minimise the form-filling load, such as the use of efficient and fair sampling procedures.
Between 1994 and 1997 compliance costs showed a progressive decrease. However from 1998 onwards compliance costs have risen steadily, as a result of the need for high quality statistics to capture changes in the economy, such as the development of E-commerce and the increasingly important service sector.
The latest compliance plan has calculated the compliance cost to business of ONS surveys in 2002 at £28.9 million at 2002 prices, which was within the agreed limit. The figure is the same as 1995 in real terms.