In the UK, the Office for National Statistics regularly

produces and publishes a wide range of the information about the United Kingdom that can be used for social and economic policy-making as well as painting a portrait of the country as its population evolves over time. (from Wikipedia article)

My question is whether the status of the ONS as an executive office of a non-ministerial department (reporting directly to Parliament) gives it the right to request (/demand) data (for example, for the production of a particular indicator that has been requested by Parliament), or advice, without paying for it.

As has been pointed out in the comments, the UK National Census may be one example of an ONS survey where a citizen does not have the right to refuse to answer. I am specifically interested in whether the ONS has the general right to insist on answers/demand other data (i.e. not tied to any specific named survey), without paying for them.

  • 2
    This looks like a legal question rather than a political one. Commented May 29, 2018 at 14:57
  • Fair enough, point taken. Do you consider that it would be better on Law stackexchange, or would they say that it is too specific to the UK?
    – OliP
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 15:08
  • @OliP I would try Law.SE
    – Machavity
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 15:39
  • @Machavity thanks, moderator flag raised with this request
    – OliP
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 15:52
  • I will migrate this question to Law.SE at the request of the author of the question.
    – Philipp
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 21:30

1 Answer 1


Of itself, no.

The power to compel answers would need to come from statute - either the statute that created the body or a statute relating to a particular data gathering effort.


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