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Census

July 14, 2003

Question written on 14/07/2003

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is his policy to use the one-number census process to determine population in the future.

Answered by John Healey

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Mark Field, dated 14 July 2003As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking if it is policy to use the One Number Census process to determine population in the future. (124747)In the UK, the mid-year population estimates are based on an internationally accepted and widely employed demographic method. Using this method, estimates are produced by updating from a census base allowing for births, deaths and net migration. This basic method will continue to be employed in the future. However, we are continuing with research into improving our methods of estimating the components of population change between the censuses. The 2001 census showed we need to be much better at this. In particular the Office for National Statistics published on the 9th July a study looking at the future of population statistics; this is available on the National Statistics website at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/about/Methodology by theme/Dem Stat Ser 21ST Cen.aspFurther, a National Statistics Quality Review on International Migration Statistics is nearing completion and this will make recommendations on improving the accuracy of these statistics, which are the most difficult component of population change to measure accurately.A research programme, the Census Strategic Development Programme, has been established to co-ordinate the future development of the census. This programme will explore the modifications to a traditional census, taking account of the lessons from the 2001 census and harnessing modern technologies. Other potential options are being explored including: a rolling census, covering successive sections of the population; a sample census, only ever covering a percentage of the population; producing statistics from existing person-based data held by government for administrative purposes; or some combination of these. The first phase of this research will result in recommendations in late 2003.The One Number Census process added considerably to our knowledge of the quality of the census at a local authority level. However, in the future it will be possible to place even more emphasis on producing measures of quality. This will be a critical shift in determining future actions.