Mr. Waddington: There are currently 128 officials in my Department engaged mainly in the census of employment. In addition, an estimated 140 man years of work will be carried out by temporarily recruited staff. Improvements to the census operation planned or already implemented have reduced the proposed annual budget for this work from £3 million to £2 million in the current year and to £1 million from 1984. The overall cost of the 1981 census is estmated at about £4½ million.
Mr. Heddle asked the Secretary of State for Employment to which individuals, companies or other organisations the "Census of Employment Return: 14 September 1981" has been distributed; and what is the purpose of the return.
Mr. Waddington: Census forms are sent to all employers on the register, which consists of names and
addresses recorded by the Inland Revenue as holding payas-you-earn tax records for employees. The purpose of censuses of employment is to provide detailed and comprehensive information not available from other sources about employment and its industrial distribution at national, regional and local levels, for us particularly in relation to national and local government policies. It also provides a check and basis for the monthly and quarterly employment series. The 1981 census updates information previously collected in respect of 1978 and will enable account to be taken of the significant changes in the structure of employment that have occurred over the last three years.
Mr. Heddle asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether his Department will study the returns from the "Census of Employment Return: 14 September 1981" which are sent to his Department in completed form later than 23 October.
Mr. Waddington: Yes; 23 October is the date by which firms are asked to return forms if possible but late returns are also included in the compilation of the results which are normally based on over 99 per cent. response.
Mr. Heddle asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received from the CBI, the Association of Small Businesses, chambers of commerce and other organisations concerning the usefulness and purpose of the "Census of Employment Return: 14 September 1981."
Mr. Waddington: No representations have been received. Support for the census henceforth to be taken normally triennially rather than annually has been expressed by the CBI.
Mr. Heddle asked the Secretary of State for Employment when was the last occasion on which his Department had conducted a census of employment; what was the estimated cost of the exercise; what were its conclusions; and what proportion of the census of employment forms was returned to his Department.
Mr. Waddington: The last census of employment was taken in June 1978. Overlap of work on the 1977 census with that on the 1978 census meant that the cost of each was not separately identified. The annual cost of the census operation at that time was running at approximately £4½ million at 1981 prices; current and future censuses will cost very much less following the introduction of improved operational methods.
The results were published in the February and March 1981 issues of the Employment Gazette.
Over 99 per cent. of the census forms issued were completed and returned.