Government Departments are well aware of the need to obtain up-to-date information and already make extensive use of sampling methods for this purpose, but I am always ready to consider improvements.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that of the errors of the previous Government that of not knowing what was happening in the important field of exports and production last year was among the most grievous? Is my right hon. Friend further aware that sample statistics can materially assist here and enable the Government to make rather better predictions, and take rather better action, than were previously made?
I go along with my hon. Friend in certain of his comments. I think that the facts are fairly generally known. They did not seem to get through. Having said that, I agree with my hon. Friend that there are still very serious deficiencies in central Government statistics, particularly in relation to future export prospects and also, I think, in relation to production matters. There was very strong criticism by the Radcliffe Committee, which reported in 1959 on the adequacy of financial statistics. In all the years since then not enough has been done to improve the adequacy of financial statistics. Whether sampling will help in that case would be a rather difficult question to answer.
All the statistics that are at present available. It is certainly the case—this is one of the matters which is being gone into as a matter of urgency—that the figures for bank advances, which was the basis for the last decision about special deposits, were part of the field referred to by the Radcliffe Report as quite inadquate for modern purposes.