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Departmental Administrative Forms

Volume 981: debated on Wednesday 19 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he can yet make a statement on the outcome of the review of his Department's administrative forms.

I have placed in the Library a copy of the report by the consultants—Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. and the Economists Advisory Group Ltd.—who were appointed to undertake this review of the Department's administrative forms. The report is in two parts: a summary of the main findings and recommendations, with selected examples of forms redesigned by the consultants, and eight technical appendices each dealing separately with one of the areas of work reviewed and containing all the relative proposals for re-designed forms.The consultants concluded that 392 of the Department's administrative forms qualified for review and of these they undertook a detailed review of 171 (84 per cent. by volume of usage). The remainder were omitted because they were little used, they related to small specialised fields of activity, or they were already in the process of re-design.The consultant's main conclusions and recommendations were as follows:

  • (a) There is very little complaint (either from members of the public or from 42 bodies contacted of whom some represent small businesses) by users of the Department's administrative forms. In a sample poll directly related to a list of the Department's most widely used forms, 89 per cent of respondents said that they had no complaints.
  • (b) Nevertheless, there is scope for improving the design, lay-out and content of some of the Department's forms: and for abolishing others.
  • (c) There are recommendations for improving the control of forms design and lay-out.
  • I accept the broad recommendations which the consultants have made for improving the position further.

    My Department will bear these in mind when considering the issue or re-issue of its forms, taking into account the costs involved in redesign and the views of the major users.

    We shall endeavour to keep to a minimum the burden of paperwork—whether in length or complexity—which we impose on business.