HC Deb 10 February 1978 vol 943 cc716-7W
Mr. Cant

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he has made any progress in securing the earlier publication of statistics relating to numbers employed.

Mr. Golding

Since my reply to my hon. Friend's Question on 8th March 1977 concerning the annual census of employment—[Vol. 927, c. 514–5]—I regret to say that industrial action by computer staff, and unforeseen difficulties in processing the full-scale census of employment taken in 1976, led to publication being delayed until last November—some 17 months after the reference date. However, at the same time, very considerable progress has been made in improving procedures to make greater use of computer processing. These changes are taking a little longer than previously envisaged, but they are now nearly complete. There will be some repercussions, from the problems with the 1976 census on the compilation of the results for 1977, but every effort is being made to limit the possible delays in publication.

Regarding future censuses, my Department's objective remains that indicated in my previous reply—namely, to improve by one or two months on the average time of a year taken to publish the results of the 1973, 1974 and 1975 censuses, and I hope to make progress towards this when the results of the 1978 census, to be taken in June, are published next year.