HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc107-8W
Mr. Gordon Prentice

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to revise Government statistics to take account of recent research into human longevity. [56913]

Ruth Kelly

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Gordon Prentice, dated 20 May 2002 As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what steps are being taken to revise government statistics to take account of recent research into human longevity. (56913) The Office for National Statistics keeps abreast of international research into shifts in aging, and is able to increase the analytical understanding we have through publishing measures of healthy life expectancy. We are also a significant contributor to the major UK social research programme into influences on aging. Population projections for the United Kingdom and its constituent countries are prepared by the Government Actuary's Department at the request of the Registrars General of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The assumptions used for these are agreed in consultation with the statistical offices of the four constituent countries. A range of projections are then published, based on agreed variations in the assumptions made about mortality, fertility and migration. The Government Actuary's Department last year carried out a review of the methodology for projecting mortality in these projections as part of the National Statistics Quality Assurance review programme. The review report, published in December 2001 (available of the National Statistics website at www.statistics.gov.ukimethodsquality/quality—review/population) compares the performance of several methods of projecting future mortality and concludes that the method currently used outperformed the other methods assessed in terms of accuracy. However, several recommendations were made to improve the current methodology. The Government Actuary's Department will take the recommendations of the review and the findings of all relevant recent research into account when setting the assumptions for future population projections.