Statistical Information

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th February 1972.

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Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe 12:00 am, 29th February 1972

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the statistical information available to his office: and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Yes, Sir. Statistical information is available as required either through the Central Statistical Office or direct from the appropriate Departments. Considerable improvements have been made in official statistics in recent years, and these are continuing.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

Is the Prime Minister aware that the disablement statistics that he refused to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) have now been made available by the Institute of Municipal Treasurers? Is it the Prime Minister's view that the I.M.T.'s figures are inaccurate? If so, would he say so now, if only because my hon. Friend will this afternoon be publishing the information which he and the House have been refused on this vitally important matter?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Yes. I will have a careful check made of the I.M.T.'s figures. I have explained to the House before—and certainly in the prolonged correspondence with the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley)—that these figures are not in any way comparable with each other because of the differences which exist between local authorities on registration. Some local authorities make funds available to the disabled whether or not they are registered. Others limit it to those who are registered. There are many resources which are made available whether or not disabled people are registered. Therefore, to provide a list in rank, as the Secretary of State and I were asked to do by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, is not justifiable; nor is it justifiable to pillory local authorities over statistics which are not soundly based. But my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has instituted a new statistical investigation so that we can endeavour to ascertain from local authorities the full basis of the help that they give to the disabled, and then it will be possible to make proper comparisons.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

On statistical information, would my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister say how he gets his guidance on television audiences, and where they are situate? Is he aware that at 6.12 p.m. last Sunday my colour television set was blacked out; that a large number of my constituents living in the neighbourhood were denied the privilege of seeing and listening to my right hon. Friend, and that great distress is caused by this poor statistical guidance? My right hon. Friend must really do better next time.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

That is a very ingenious supplementary question. If my hon. Friend had, after that power cut, switched on the alternative service at 10.15 p.m., he would have been able to see the programme, which I feel, personally, was better than that shown last night at 9.25 p.m., when no doubt his television was switched off.

Photo of Mr Lewis Carter-Jones Mr Lewis Carter-Jones , Eccles

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the questions he now refuses to answer were answered by his right hon. Friend to me 12 months ago? We have subsequently been told that these are misleading figures. I have never known misleading figures to have such a dramatic effect, because, as the right hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware, all the bad local authorities have done their best to improve their performance. Will he please now publish some more misleading figures for the sake of the disabled?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

It was as a result of the publication of the figures to which the hon. Member refers that it was fully appreciated how unfair many of these figures were. I think the hon. Member will accept that a great deal of the improvement which has taken place among local authorities is the result of the action taken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services and his Department, following the 1970 Act. But I repeat that my right hon. Friend has now instituted a fresh statistical survey in an endeavour to get fuller statistics which will be a proper basis for comparison