Treasury Committee: Press Notice

Treasury Sub-Committee invites written evidence for new inquiry into Counting the Population

The Treasury Sub-Committee invites written evidence as part of its new inquiry into Counting the Population. The inquiry will examine the collection of statistics by the Office for National Statistics relating to the size, age, sex and distribution of people, the accuracy of such statistics and the role and value of such statistics.

The Sub-Committee will consider in particular:

(i) The uses of population estimates, the definition of the population and the impact of any inaccuracies or inadequacies in population estimates;

(ii) The role of the Census in the provision of population statistics and preparations for the 2011 Census in England and Wales;

(iii) The preparation and accuracy of the mid-year population estimates for England and Wales;

(iv) The role of survey and administrative data in compiling population statistics; and

(v) Cooperation between the ONS (and its successors) and stakeholders.

Suggested questions which written evidence might address in relation to each of these topics are given later in this press notice.

Written evidence should reach the Sub-Committee by 12 noon on Wednesday 28 November 2007. The Sub-Committee intends to publish the written evidence that it receives by this deadline prior to the commencement of oral evidence sessions very early in 2008, and therefore this deadline must be adhered to. Written evidence received after this date (other than supplementary evidence from those who have previously submitted evidence) is unlikely to be printed. Where appropriate, those submitting written evidence should prepare by reference to the topics set out above and after considering the suggested questions on each topic set out below, although those submitting evidence should feel free to include evidence on other matters within the scope of this inquiry.

1. Uses and definitions

• What are the uses of population estimates, and how far do current population estimates meet the needs associated with those uses? What are the effects of inaccuracies or inadequacies in such estimates?

• How appropriate is a definition of the population based on the usually resident population in the context of the needs of the users?

• How does the quality and range of population statistics in England and Wales compare with that available in Scotland, Northern Ireland and internationally?

2. The role of the Census

• How does the Census contribute to the creation of population statistics? Is the current frequency of Censuses appropriate and, if not, how frequent should Censuses be?

• What lessons have been learnt from the Test Census carried out on 13 May 2007? What methods should be employed for the distribution and completion of Census forms, including the use of the Internet?

• What steps should be taken to increase the rate of responses to the Census, particularly in hard-to-reach areas? How effective are plans to measure the extent of non-response to the 2011 Census?

• To what extent is there a trade-off between the length of the Census form and its role in providing population information? What questions should be included in the 2011 Census?

• To what extent should Census questions and statistical information be coordinated across the United Kingdom and how effective are plans to ensure such coordination?

• What forms should the outputs of the 2011 Census take, how and when should they be made available and how should they be integrated and coordinated with other information on population?

3. Mid-year population estimates

• How accurate and useful are the mid-year population estimates for England and Wales, including information available for local authorities and Strategic Health Authorities?

• How appropriate is the methodology by which mid-year population estimates are reached?

• What are the most appropriate ways to ensure a common level of accuracy in mid-year population estimates for different areas and what steps should be taken to improve the accuracy in areas where population is hard to measure?

• What is the right process for making revisions to mid-year population estimates so as to meet the needs of users?

4. The role of survey and administrative data

• What role can and should be played by survey data in the compilation of population statistics?

• What role can and should be played by data from General Practitioners and other health service data in the compilation of population statistics?

• What other data sources can and should be used in the compilation of population statistics?

5. Cooperation with stakeholders

• How effectively has the Office for National Statistics cooperated with stakeholders with an interest in and information relating to population statistics and how can cooperation be improved by the Statistics Board and by its Executive Office?

The deadline for  submissions is 12 noon 28 November 2007