HC Deb 01 May 1952 vol 499 cc1644-5
21. Mr. F. Maclean

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many officials are employed in preparing the Census of Production for the current year.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The number engaged on work in connection with the census which is being taken this year is about 215.

Mr. Maclean

Does my right hon. Friend consider that the results achieved justify the trouble and expense involved on the part of everybody concerned? Could not the existing machinery perhaps be simplified?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think that a census of production serves a useful purpose, but, at the same time, I am far from saying that we have necessarily reached perfection in the matter. I am examining it to see how we can simplify and make it easier, both for us and industry, to answer the questions, and I hope, in consultation with industry, to be successful in that task.

Mr. John Profumo

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a great deal of information which is obtained on the census form is incorrect? How much credence can he therefore, place on the reliability of the information which he is getting from the census? Does he not consider that there is a strong case for abolishing the census altogether and having a totally different scheme which would be more reliable, less costly and less troublesome to the small trader?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The Question refers only to the number of people employed on the scheme, and at the moment it is 215. As I told my hon. Friend, I am considering whether we can further simplify this task.