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House of Commons Hansard
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Departmental Written Questions
29 March 2010
Volume 508
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To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what methodology his Department used to determine whether answers to questions in the formulation “if he will set out with statistical information related as directly as possible to the tabling hon. Member’s constituency the effects on that constituency of his Department’s policies since 1997” could be provided without incurring disproportionate cost; and if he will make a statement. [323858]

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[holding answer 23 March 2010]: The Department seeks to answer all parliamentary questions that do not incur disproportionate cost. The methodology used to determine whether answers to these questions could be provided without incurring disproportionate cost was the Department’s guidance on the “Calculation of the Disproportionate Cost threshold for answering PQs” which is based on the guidance published on the Cabinet Office’s website at:

www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/parliamentary-clerk-guide/chapter7.aspx

Officials in the Department have concluded that answering these questions in full would exceed the current disproportionate cost threshold of £800 as announced in Parliament by the Treasury on the 20 January 2010. These questions are very broad in scope covering all of the Department’s policies over a number of years. To identify the effects of all policies on an individual constituency, collate all of the data and carry out the necessary quality assurance would require a considerable amount of resource, far in excess of the threshold. The round robin guidance issued by the Treasury for these questions advised directing questioners to the Neighbourhood Statistics Service website. However, while the Department has placed considerable amounts of data on this website, it is not at constituency level. My officials, in line with Cabinet Office guidance, decided to answer the questions by providing the requested information which was readily available and provided readily available attainment data at constituency level and a link to the Department’s “In Your Area” website where the Department publishes further local level data including data at parliamentary constituency level. It would only be possible for the Department to provide additional information by exceeding the disproportionate cost threshold.