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Baroness Amos: A new Department for International Development Institutional Strategy Paper for the European Community, prepared in consultation with the European Commission, other member states and civil society, has been approved. The paper sets out a number of objectives for the department's work with the EC over the next three to four years. These focus on four key impact areas: EC external assistance programmes which contribute effectively to the achievement of the International Development Targets; trade and other EC policies that help developing countries benefit from the global economy; integration of environmental issues for sustainable poverty reduction; and effective EC responses to crises, conflict and humanitarian disasters.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Estimates for the net position of France and Italy in 2006 are based on the Financial Perspective ceilings and the new system of Own Resources agreed at the Berlin European Council in March 1999, assuming an enlargement of six new member states, and reflect the impact of the UK abatement and the method by which it will be funded by other member states under the new system agreed at Berlin.
As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Question on the cost of general surveys of the population other than a census carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) (HL1820).
The cost of ongoing general surveys of households or individuals commissioned by the ONS and other government departments is approximately £28.5 million per year. This does not include the many other ad hoc surveys commissioned by government.
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Question on the cost of and the main subjects covered by the General Household Survey, as well as its main additions and major deletions (HL1821).
Since 1971, the General Household Survey has included questions on population and fertility, family and household information, housing, health, employment and education. Since 2000, smoking and drinking have also been included every year.
Apart from the aforementioned subjects, which are included on a continuous basis, other topics that have been covered periodically include informal carers, elderly people, childcare, contraception, sports participation, burglary and social capital. Prior to 2000, smoking and drinking were covered every two years.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Barnett formula is used to determine spending allocations for the devolved administrations. It is not used to determine spending allocations within England. There are no current plans to change the formula. Information on identifiable total managed expenditure by country and region is published in Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses.
What cross-checks are carried out to identify the accuracy or otherwise of the census; and[HL1846]
What trials of the census questionnaire were carried out prior to its general use; and[HL1847]
What would be the approximate cost of a sample census based on a sample of 1:10,000 carried out (a) a random survey by telephone and (b) household questionnaire; and[HL1848]
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a full census as compared with a sample survey of the population; and[HL1849]
What plans they have to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the 2001 census after its completion.[HL1850]
On other topics, while it may be the case that some individual particulars of personal information that are collected in the Census may be available from a number of disparate administrative sources, the value of the Census lies in the fact that only in the Census are the many different particulars recorded in combination with each other in order to measure inter-relationships between variables. Furthermore the Census is the only source of data which can provide such statistical information on a uniform basis about the country as a whole and about individual small areas and sub-groups of the population at a common reference point in time.
It is the Census information on basic demographic characteristics that provides the benchmark for population estimates, social surveys and many public and private information sources about government. Thus the Census remains a unique source of information for resource allocation and a wide range of other purposes within central and local government, business, academia, communities and elsewhere. Checks
Field checks are made at the time of the collection of the Census returns to ensure that acceptable forms are returned. Subsequent coverage checks are made to assess the extent and nature of any under-enumeration and to provide information by which the census counts themselves may be improved. In addition, aggregated census counts at particular geographic area levels are compared with other sources of statistical data for evaluation purposes. Trials of census questions
The questions on the 2001 Census form were subjected to an extensive programme of cognitive research and small- and large-scale public testing. This included two major census tests in 1997 and 1999 in a sample of areas, selected to reflect a cross-section of various population sub groups. The 1999 test served, in fact, as a rehearsal for the Census itself.
Questions are only included in the Census where a clear need has been identified that cannot be met elsewhere and a successful business case has been made. There must also be clear evidence that they are publicly acceptable and would not adversely effect the response to the Census as a whole, and that such questions would elicit responses which would provide information sufficiently accurate to meet users' requirements. More details of this process can be found in the 2001 Census White Paper (Cm 4253). Cost of alternatives
I am not readily able to provide cost estimates of a sample census on the bases that you have suggested, nor would any such comparison with the costs of a full census be meaningful since a small sample would not facilitate comparable outputs. It would be the case,
The advantages of a full statutory census are that the data collected are comprehensive, authoritative, interrelated, consistent across different areas, and relate to a common timeframe and represent value for money.
The disadvantages might be perceived to be that it involves a relatively rigid process, that the balance between continuity and relevance is often a difficult one, that it is a very large investment, and that the results may not be immediately available. Post-census evaluation
There are plans to conduct a post-census evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of the exercise in the light of the need to make recommendations on the viability of alternative means of collecting comparable information in the future, as well as on the form that any future census might take.
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