HC Deb 23 November 1949 vol 470 cc37-8W
Sir W. Smitfaers

asked the President of the Board of Trade what purpose is served by the Census of Production; and, in view of the fact that a thousand prosecutions are pending for failure to submit forms, and of the necessity for an export drive, if he will withdraw the order for making returns.

Mr. J. Edwards:

The Census of Production which is held under the Statistics of Trade Act, 1947, is designed to provide a general survey of the state of trade and business and to contribute to a satisfactory statistical service for industry. The Census of Production (1949) (Returns and Exempted Persons Order), 1948, to which the hon. Member presumably refers, prescribes the matters about which persons may be required to furnish returns for the Census of Production being taken this year. Most firms have completed the Census returns and to excuse the small minority who have failed to comply with their legal obligations would be neither practicable nor desirable; it would reduce the value of the Census and of the work done by those firms who have already completed their returns since the value of the Census depends on the completeness of the information collected.

The suggestion that 1,000 prosecutions are pending is not correct. For the purpose of making arrangements for proceedings, that number was regarded as a possible maximum, but outstanding returns are now being received and, if compliance is maintained, the number of possible prosecutions should be very greatly reduced. In fact the number of summonses issued so far is only about 30.