British paying heavily for polls

Aug. 9, 2008 at 1:30 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- British taxpayers are shelling out more than 1 million pounds a week, nearly $2 million, to determine what they think.

The government spent a total of 55 million pounds (about $100 million) in the past year on polls, focus groups and surveys, The Telegraph reports.

The two most expensive polls were done for the Department of Transportation. One aimed to find out what the public thinks of charging drivers per mile, at a cost of more than 500,000 pounds or $1 million, while the other surveyed attitudes on climate change at a cost of more than 400,000 pounds.

Ipsos-MORI, the government's favorite polling firm, has been paid 31 million pounds ($60 million) in the past two years, the report said.

Conservative members of Parliament discovered the expenditure through questioning Cabinet officials.

"Labor is obsessed with focus groups and the dark arts of spin," said Eric Pickles, the shadow local government secretary. "Local democracy is being driven into the ground, replaced with meaningless citizens' juries and opinion polls. Throwing millions at such pollsters will do nothing to address the growing sense of political disillusionment amongst the public."

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