HC Deb 13 March 1911 vol 22 cc1848-50

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the time which had elapsed since the Census of Production (1907) was taken, if he could state when it was intended to take the next Census of Production?


The Board of Trade have this matter at present under consideration.


asked the President of the Board of Trade, with reference to the Census of Production (1907) if he was aware that the preface to the first preliminary Report bore date September, 1909, but that, although the first quarter of 1911 had nearly elapsed, the Reports were not yet complete; if he would say if any special staff had been or was detailed for the purpose of carrying out this work, or whether the officials of the Board of Trade had been, and were, expected to do it somehow in addition to their other important duties; and if he could say why a Report on the cotton trade could be ready by September, 1909, while a Report on the building trade had not yet been issued, four years after the date of the Census?


I have already informed my hon. Friend that although the Census of Production relates to the year 1907 the Act required that it should be taken in the year 1908. The greater part of the first eighteen months after the passing of the Act was occupied in the oragnisation of the Census Office, and in the consultation of special advisory committees, trade associations and private manufacturers regarding the drawing up of the schedules. The issue of these schedules, nearly 450,000 in number, was not completed till the end of 1908, and, as I stated in my reply on 27th February, a considerable time was occupied in getting in the schedules and in correspondence with manufacturers concerning the manner in which they should be filled up. A special staff, which at its maximum numbered about 200 persons, was engaged for the purpose of the Census, and every effort has been made to push forward the examination of the Returns with all speed consistent with the ensuring of accuracy. It was obviously impossible that all industries could be dealt with simultaneously, and this fact sufficiently explains why the Report on the building trade is still outstanding, although that on the cotton trade was issued in September, 1909. I may add that about 120,000 schedules were issued in the building trade alone, and that the tabulation of the figures is in an advanced stage.


Is it not a fact that many trades have found it impossible to fill these forms with any degree of accuracy?


We have received the greatest possible assistance from the various traders and manufacturers in the country. There have been very few cases indeed in which any objection has been made to the Return, and we have tried to meet them as far as possible. We have had to put our compulsory powers into force in very few cases indeed.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture if, in order to repair the omission of agriculture from the Census of Production Act, the Board of Agriculture conducted a voluntary agricultural census of production in the year 1907; if so, what success was achieved in obtaining returns from farmers and others; and when it was expected that a Report on the Census would be presented to Parliament?

Mr. GULLAND (Lord of the Treasury, for Sir E. Strachey)

Agriculture was not included among the industries referred to in the Schedule to the Census of Production Act, mainly because a considerable amount of statistical information as to agricultural production is obtained annually by the Board. Certain further information was obtained in the Agricultural Returns collected in June, 1908, and a number of special inquiries have since been made. A large amount of information relating to agricultural production has been obtained, and it is hoped that the results will be available at an early date.