HC Deb 10 December 1986 vol 107 cc221-3W
Mr. Meacher

asked the Paymaster General if he will list all the changes that have been made since 1979 in his Department in the presentation of statistical information; and what further changes are now planned.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Changes in the presentation and publication of statistical series produced by the Department of Employment have always been made from time to time, before and after 1979. These are in response to the requirements of Government and other users of statistical information, changes to the administrative system on which some series are based and the development of new statistical techniques. When such changes are made they are fully documented, usually in the Employment Gazette.

The main changes since 1979 are as follows. They have been grouped by subject matter: minor amendments to Employment Gazette tables and notes have been omitted. The overall effect of these changes has been to increase the amount and extend the range of statistical information given by my Department.

Price Indices There have been no changes in the presentation of information on the general index of retail prices and price indices for pensioner households since 1979. Following recommendations of the retail prices index advisory committee presented to the House in July 1986 (Cmnd. 9848) some technical changes will be made early next year. The reference base of the index will be changed to January 1987 and there will be some changes in the way the details of index are structured and presented. The publication of indices of movements in additional costs for people working in inner and outer London was discontinued in 1982.

Employment In April 1981 part-time female employees were separately identified in the quarterly estimates by industry. A service industry total—both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted was introduced in September 1982. In June 1983 the Department introduced an additional "supplementary" series of employment estimates, for very broad industry aggregates at national level only, which included an adjustment intended to compensate for the persistent undercounting which had been observed in the employment estimates. In July 1984, after data from the labour force survey had confirmed that the "supplementary" estimates were more accurate, the adjustments for under-counting were spread across industries and regions, and the Department ceased publishing estimates which did not include the adjustment. Employment estimates classified by the 1980 Standard Industrial Classification (replacing the 1968 classification) were first published in December 1983. Labour turnover figures were converted to the new industrial classification in February 1984 and the number of industries for which these estimates were available was reduced from 78 to 21. We will re-examine the industrial detail published regularly in Employment Gazette in the light of the results of the Census of Employment for 1984.

Unemployment Following the introduction of the computerised count of unemployment benefit claimants in 1982, a greater amount of information flows on and off the count has become available and been published regularly in the Employment Gazette. In September 1984, ward based figures for unemployed benefit claimants were introduced. This change enabled accurate figures to be produced for local authority districts, counties and parliamentary constituencies, as well as the revised travel-to-work areas. The former figures for jobcentre areas were discontinued. In July 1985, a consistent series of seasonally adjusted adult unemployment according to the current coverage was first introduced, allowing for previous discontinuities in the claimant count. In July 1986, new regional and national unemployment rates were introduced showing the numbers as a percentage of the whole working population including the self-employed and HM Forces. The previous narrower based rates, however, continue to be available for the purpose of comparison with rates for travel to work areas for which data on self-employrnent are not available.

Vacancies In October 1985 some revisions were made to the series of vacancies reported to jobcentres to bring the figures into line with those used by MSC for operational purposes. In addition, community programme vacancies were shown separately and excluded from the seasonally adjusted series.

Tourism In March 1980 the quarterly inquiry on catering turnover was discontinued. In April 1980 a new monthly series was indtroduced on visits to/from the United Kingdom by foreign and United Kingdom residents respectively, based on the international passenger survey. This replaced the discontinued quarterly series of "foreign arrivals in the United Kingdom" derived from Home Office information. In November 1984 a quarterly series of 'employment in tourism—related industries' was introduced. This was originally included in British Business but was transferred to the Employment Gazette in 1986.

Earning Seasonal adjustment of the average ernings index (new series) was introduced in Juoy 1980 and separate series for manufacturing and production were first published in October 1980, with the old series average earnings index being discontinued in February 1981. The index of underlying increases in average earnings was introduced in April 1981. The base date of the indices was changed to January 1980=100 in October 1983 at which time the industry classification was revised from SIC (1968) to SIC (1980). A service industries index was introduced in September 1986. As a result of a Rayner review a number of regular surveys on earnings were discontinued frm 1980. These included all but one of the April surveys on manual employees, in May 1980. Together with the January

CP project Year Numbers involved Estimated cost £
Home visiting November 1985-November 1986 1 supervisor; 12 participants 55,500
Home visiting November 1986-November 1987 2 supervisors; 26 participants 118,500
Gardening June 1986–28 November 1986 1 supervisor; 17 participants 34,000
Local history June 1986–29 May 1987 11 participants 43,000

The community programme is the only scheme administered by the Manpower Services Commission in which Greater Springburn Enterprises Ltd. has been involved.