HC Deb 11 January 1977 vol 923 cc1249-50
17. Mr. Durant

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many statisticians are employed by his Department; and what is the cost of employing them.

Mr. Deakins

My Department employs 37 statisticians, and the cost of employing them is estimated to be about £460,000 per year, including salaries, national insurance and all on costs such as superannuation, accommodation, typing and other services.

Mr. Durant

Are these the same statiticians who, in May 1976, forecast that the surplus on the National Insurance Fund would be £389 million and only seven months later forecast that it would be £932 million?

Mr. Deakins

The statisticians are merely collating information received in connection with the national insurance system generally. There are also statisticians who have to be employed, for example, by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, and also the Government Actuary himself, who is responsible for the report to Parliament to which the hon. Gentleman has referred.

Mr. Christopher Price

Does my hon. Friend remember that in the summer I asked the Department a question about mental health statistics and that it had to re-answer it a few weeks ago saying that it had got all the statistics wrong? Will he have another look at his statistical department, particularly as it relates to mental health figures, because it says that half the figures are unobtainable and the half that it gives in answers are all wrong.

Mr. Deakins

I must come to the defence of the statisticians in my Department. They are dependent on getting statistics from organisations in the National Health Service and local authority social service departments to provide the answers that my hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen want. If the basic information is wrong, the collating that goes on in my Department is also wrong.

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