HC Deb 08 May 1952 vol 500 cc531-2
13. Mr. James H. Hoy

asked the President of the Board of Trade the occupations in his Department of the 72 persons dismissed from his Department since last November.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The decrease of 72 in the Board's staff is the difference between an intake of 371 and the departure of 443 staff in the period in question. An analysis of the work performed by the staff which left would have little significance, especially as in most grades, staff declared redundant are selected, in accordance with standing procedure, by shortness of service and not by reference to the work which they may be performing.

Mr. Hoy

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many messengers were included in the 72?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Not without notice.

19 and 20. Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what is the size of the staff at present employed in the Statistics Division of his Department;

(2) whether he will consider simplifying and reducing the questionnaire sent out by the Statistics Division of his Department.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The staff employed in this Division on 1st October, 1951, was 1,400. On 1st May, 1952, it had been reduced to 1,308, and I hope to reduce it by another 400 by the end of the present financial year. I can assure my hon. Friend that I am making every effort in consultation with industry to keep down our statistical requirements to the minimum compatible with meeting the essential needs of Government and industry. In particular, the Census forms are being reduced and simplified with the help of an advisory committee of industrialists. And I should add that the Census of Production for 1952 will be on a "sample" basis, that the majority of firms will not be required to make returns and the Census form will be very much simpler than ever before.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his answer will give immense satisfaction to industry?

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the collection of official statistics in this country is still greatly inferior to the collection of statistics in the U.S.A., and will he make quite sure that any economies that are made do not cripple the effective collection of figures by his Department?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I certainly do not intend to cripple the collection of statistics. I am anxious for them to be reduced to the minimum compatible with what we require, and that they should be as simple as possible.

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