Select Committee on Treasury Written Evidence

Memorandum from David Coleman, Professor of Demography at Oxford University


    "No gentleman who has sat any time in this House can be insensible of the utility of the law proposed; for seldom a session passes over but something happens in which it would be of singular advantage to the public and a great satisfaction to ourselves to have upon our table such authentic accounts as are proposed by this Bill to be laid yearly before parliament"

  Thos. Potter MP, proposing the bill to create a population register (An Act for Taking and Registering an Annual Account of the People . . . Geo III 1753).


  All aspects of population statistics in the United Kingdom are in an unsatisfactory state. Even the base population remains uncertain. Despite every effort, the last two censuses have turned out to be unsatisfactory. Even the 2001 census, designed to be infallible, has had to be revised twice and its incompatibilities with other sources patched up with statistical Polyfilla. With present systems the degree of error is unknowable but possibly large. Inappropriate questions are asked, and necessary ones ignored. Immigration flow statistics are estimated on small voluntary samples of intended immigration and emigration, of incomplete coverage and high sampling error. Immigrants' destinations around the country are based initially on their stated intentions on arrival, naturally subject to revision. With these systems we cannot know who is in the country, legally or illegally, when they arrived, where they are or if and when they left. The number of illegal immigrants is anyone's guess although the government has given an estimate of about half a million. Internal migration and local population estimates are based on obsolete and often wrong census counts, sample surveys inadequate for local authority use and indirect and partial estimates from changes in doctors' registrations. Current huge migration flows quickly render estimates out of date.

  While energetic attempts are made by ONS to rectify these acknowledged deficiencies, it is now clear that all these systems, never very effective, are now so unreliable that they have reached the end of the road of any effective radical improvement. The current system is beyond effective reform; investment in them has been inadequate. Only a comprehensive population register, possibly on the Scandinavian pattern, can restore accuracy and timeliness to population statistics at local and national level, and also tell us who has entered the country, where they are and when, or if, they leave it. Such a comprehensive register is not on offer: the "national identity register" of adults proposed for the identity cards is not the same thing

  We have given ourselves a pervasive and expensive welfare state without the means to evaluate the condition, the needs or even the numbers of the population whose welfare is to be safeguarded and whose entitlements and security are to be protected. That is not a good way to enter the 21st century.


  This note considers the current state of UK population statistics: their accuracy and their fitness or otherwise to serve public policy aims, what the aims should be in population-related matters. It makes some suggestions for short term improvements to existing statistical sources. But essentially it concludes that those systems (census, vital registration and surveys) are close to the limit of improvement and that a radical replacement is needed in the form of a population register.


  Few aspects of UK population statistics are in a completely satisfactory state, whether relating to the numbers and condition of the people, at national or local level, the volume and purpose of movement of foreigners into, around and out of the country and their current numbers and distribution, lawful and otherwise, the pattern of fertility or the projection of population or its components. Some are so poor as to be barely usable.

  In the interests of brevity, this submission will proceed directly to the case for a population register and some of the objections to it. It will be assumed that the controversies over the 1991 and 2001 censuses, the severe problems afflicting internal and international migration data, the consequent great uncertainty and disputes over local authority population size, are generally accepted as difficulties needing solution. The these problems and recent official responses to them are considered in some detail in an appendix to this note, which also comments on recent official responses and adds some other proposals for short-term improvement. For these that need no persuasion that "something must be done", all that can be ignored.


  Short-term improvements aside, this submission proposes that existing systems should be brought together and connected with, or replaced by, a compulsory continuous population register for all UK citizens and non-UK citizen residents incorporating a unique person-number (PN). Such a system could be on lines long familiar in some Scandinavian countries, in Belgium, Israel and others (NCHS 1980) and in a less developed form in Austria, Finland, France, Iceland, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and elsewhere (see Salt et al. 1994). A register would be a fuller development of some of the ideas put forward in the Integrated Population Statistics System (ONS 2003), most of the ambitious elements of which seem to have been dropped. However the first serious proposal for a modern register in the UK in recent times was made by Redfern (1990). The person-number would be assigned at birth to each child, or to each person naturalised or accepted for long-term residence, and would be unchangeable. It would be used as a unique identifier on all other records; NHS, DVLC, welfare payments and pensions and national insurance. A number of ways could be imagined of developing such a system (Birch 2007).

  In most countries registers are kept by each local authority (counties, in Sweden) and centralised electronically in the national statistical office, the central records being updated regularly, often weekly. Usually there is a separate register for aliens (non-citizens). In the UK case, given present problems, that would be one of the most valuable innovations. However in Belgium there is one National Register including all Belgians and resident foreigners, together with Belgians living abroad. An extract from the register relating to foreigners only (for whom additional information is kept) constitutes a National Register of Aliens and Residence Permits. In the Netherlands the 489 municipalities are responsible for maintaining local registers of Dutch citizens and (separately) non-Dutch citizens. There is no central register as such, but a "virtual" register whereby all the municipal registers are linked by a secure electronic postbox maintained by the Ministry of the Interior. That linkage enables national totals to be derived regularly (Salt et al 1994; Poulain et al 2006).

  Originally the registers were entirely local, in the case of Sweden dating from the 18th century. Centralisation only became possible in the 1960s with the development of electronic computers. Once that was possible, a huge advance was made in the maintenance of timely and accurate national demographic information for every kind of public policy need, also permitting considerable advances in epidemiological and demographic research.

  A person number (PN) is typically a ten-digit or longer number indicating the date of birth and sex of the individual, a unique individual number and a check digit or digits that ensure that the PN has not developed an error. Thus in Sweden the PN 450410-1488 indicates a woman born on 10 April 1945 with the individual number 148 and check digit 8. All administrative records relating to that individual would have to bear the PN.

  Even in the UK some elements of this system are already in place. There is already a universal person identifier. All births in the UK (and legal immigrants) have had a birth number assigned to them through the NHS system which tracks all their medical records and follows them as they move house around the country through the computerised NHS Central Register at Southport (Hornsey 1993). In the absence of much other data, it is one of the chief sources of information on internal migration, albeit an unsatisfactory one for obvious reasons. It is not, however, used outside the NHS. The Central Register can only give information on moves between the 100 (former) Health Authorities, and only when patients choose to (re)register. That can involve considerable delay.

  However, each such authority holds a register of patients with local GPs. That Patient Register includes the NHS number, sex, date of birth and postcode for each patient. With these, the Office for National Statistics can create a register for the whole of England and Wales. Linking records using the unique NHS number, persons who change their postcode from one year to another can be identified, enabling much more detailed, if still incomplete and untimely internal migration estimates to be made for small geographical areas (Chappell, Vickers and Evans 2000; ONS 2003). The National Insurance number is a near-universal number increasingly used as a general identifier for persons over age 16, for tax and other purposes, well beyond the scope of its original intended function.

An opportunity thrown away

  There are two previous examples of a compulsory registration in the UK, each accompanied by the issue of identity cards. Both were provoked by wartime emerge cy. The first (1915-1919), relating to the adult population only, was introduced amidst controversy about conscription in order to establish the number of men available to join the armed forces. That having been established (1,413,900) official and public interest in both card and register waned —there were no incentives for keeping or using it—and the system was put to sleep in 1919. A later proposal for a population register by the then Registrar-General, Sir Bernard Mallet (1929) was based upon much broader arguments, some demographic others related to the protection of individual entitlement. But it fell on deaf government ears. The next, much more successful emergency scheme arose from the establishment of the National Register in September 1939, which had been in preparation since 1938 in the anticipation of war. That involved both a register and a simple identity card containing a few basic details including the unique identity code (eg ASEO3 followed by the surname). That work, using 65,000 enumerators to distribute and collect 12 million household schedules, was followed by the issue of identity cards to all individuals (47 million), except sailors and servicemen, from the Central National Registration Office near Southport. All that was completed between 5 September and 29 1939 (Registrars-Generals, 1939). Information collected was modest: name and address, sex, date of birth, marital condition and occupation. The unique birth number associated with the Register became, with modification, the NHS number mentioned above. This system worked quite well, not the least because the 1930s Registrar-General Sylvanus Vivian built into it an incentive of what he called "parasitic vitality". Possession of the ID card was linked with entitlement to the then rationed food supplies: no ID card, no rations (Agar (no date)). National Registration continued after the war without much controversy except for the use of the cards by the police, and some concern about "function creep" and only ended in 1952 following a change of government (food rationing did not end until 1954).

An opportunity missed

  However, had far-sighted proposals made in parliament in 1753 come to fruition, Britain would have had a population registration system for the last two and a half centuries, which, if developed in the way that other similar schemes were in other countries, would have given us a far superior system for managing population, health and welfare data than we currently enjoy. The 18th century was a time of great population controversy. In the absence of a census or an understanding of the way in which the parish registers could usefully be analysed, there was great uncertainly between learned as well as ordinary people as to the size of the population, and whether it was increasing (as it was) or declining (Glass 1973). A number of remedies were proposed, of which Thomas Potter's was the most sensible. A annual local count of population, and a record of all marriages, births and deaths was to be taken on a secular, not a religious basis. The results would be centralized, providing annual local and national totals of population and vital events— a very suitable prototype for what is proposed here and similar to schemes initiated around the same time in Sweden and elsewhere. Despite some opposition on religious and libertarian grounds, the Bill passed in the Commons by 57-17. But in its Second Reading in the Lords, it was referred to a Committee of the Lords for a date outside the session. Accordingly it lapsed and was not revived in the next session. As a result England and Wales had to wait for a second-best system: until 1837 for the civil registration of vital events; a satisfactory census on modern lines (based on households) was not taken until 1841.

The new proposal

  Apart from the PN linking all administrative records, the major innovation would be to create a register of all residents including the PIN and listing basic individual data: name, address of principal residence; citizenship, date and place of birth, marital status, age and sex. Following overseas practice, the obvious location and responsibility for maintenance would be with the local authorities. But it could be run centrally like the proposed National Identity Register for the Identity Card. It would be linked through the PN to administrative datasets such as the NHS Central Register, the National Insurance register, local authority rating lists and, where persons were eligible, the register of electors. Or it could replace some of those, for example the last-named. The person-number would be the passport for access to education, to NHS services, to the welfare system and to pensions. The register would not need to be associated with an ID card but it would be more useful if it were.. But with an ID card it would also be more difficult to introduce, given the reservations about that proposal on civil liberties, cost and other grounds (Enterprise Privacy Group 2005). A separate register sub-register would be needed for non-naturalised foreigners, linked to e-borders and the Home Office, containing additional information concerning immigration status. Some countries with PN systems such as Sweden have two or three stages of PN related to immigration status, showing the entitlement of the bearer to limited or full welfare and health care rights. In order to provide timely and complete national data, the information on the local registers would need either to be submitted regularly to a central register or connected with all the others in a decentralised network similar to that operating in the Netherlands. For information, the kinds of data kept in the Belgian municipal registers are listed in Appendix 2.

  It should be noted that this register would be different from the National Identity Register proposed in conjunction with the Identity Card. The latter register would only exist to support the Identity Card, containing, it would seem, minimal information but capable of being linked to other administrative registers. Its multiple aims appear to be primarily to minimise crime, welfare and identity fraud, illegal immigration and the risk of terrorism. Accordingly only those aged over 16 would be included. It would have no demographic function and could not replace any existing demographic systems. The register proposed here is the basis a complete population system for public policy ends, which should be valuable in improving security, especially in respect of immigration, but is not created to that end. And it would not require an ID card. Some countries with population registers do not have ID cards. The Swedish ID card was only introduced in 2005 and is not compulsory. The ID cards in Austria, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden are likewise voluntary. Denmark, although maintaining a population register with a person number, has no ID card at all.

  The next section considers the advantages and notes some of the objections to national registration. A very useful and more complete review or these issues can be found elsewhere (Redfern 1990).


  Already, in order to survive at an ordinary standard of living in a welfare state such as the UK, entitlement to services depends on being listed in one register or document or another, at the moment each operating under a different system with a different form of identification.

  The PN would not of itself confer any additional privileges, but would facilitate access to them and ensure that only the person entitled to them could make use of them. It would not itself contain confidential information. But through linkage it would ensure identification of each individual without confusion, on all existing administrative databases (NHS, National Insurance, electoral register etc). In broad terms, it would ensure that the person was certified as being known to the British State and was entitled to some or all of its services.

  However parallel changes would be needed to tighten up the requirement to show entitlement to use local government and NHS services, which currently is very uneven or not required at all.

  The PN would require, to generate population statistics, the development of local authority address databases with more information than the PN (for example name, address, age, sex, marital status and citizenship), to which the PN would be linked.

  That would generate highly accurate national and local population data capable of being updated by linkage as frequently as necessary, providing true "one number" information.

  Its use would require residents to register on moving permanently to a new LA and de-register from the old one. That would only make more systematic the current system for recording responsibility for local taxation.

  Such regular national updates would replace the annual local and national mid-year population estimates obtained by rolling forward the data from the last census with subsequent births, deaths and migration.

  It would give much better information on local migration and local population change than the present system, which relies on a rather ramshackle combination of sources, principally changes in NHS registration.

  Because of their responsibilities for delivering education, LA housing, planning decisions and social services, local authorities are the most important consumers of population information and claimants on Treasury funding. At present many are badly served through the recent uncertainties of the census and the unprecedented pace of immigration, with which conventional local population statistics data sources cannot keep up.

  Naturalised immigrants, or those granted indefinite leave to remain, would acquire a PN on the same or similar basis as others. A separate register or sub-section would be required for shorter term immigrants (those given leave to enter for more than three months). The PN would be recorded on the departure and arrival of international migrants.

  By providing a secure basis for enumeration., the PN would ensure a much higher accuracy of population censuses, and would serve as a check on their accuracy, were any censuses to continue. Eventually, however, "censuses" would be entirely register-based, as in Sweden, and the sooner the better.

  By comparison with data held in each local authority, the PN would eliminate duplication and error from the electoral register, which is known to omit many individuals and to include many who are not entitled to be on it. At present, the electoral register relies too much on unsupported statements on the annual canvass forms by the household reference person and those who are in charge of institutions, and for various reasons is far from complete.

  A PN would be essential for the introduction of a compulsory, universal Identity Card (the only kind worth the effort of setting up) if it were decided to introduce it, although the card (which could be duplicated or faked, unlike the entries on the register), would require biometric data. Although an identity card requires a register, at least of a simple kind, a PN system does not require an identity card although the two tend to go together.

  The PN would minimise or eliminate fraudulent use or duplication of National Health numbers or National Insurance numbers (The PN might replace the simple NHS number). It would, for example, detect and reduce "health tourism" as long as its use was enforced by NHS management.

  The Population Register would record and establish each person's legal marital status. When a person's marital status changes because of marriage/remarriage or divorce, the new marital status cannot easily be linked into any existing database because the person's date of birth is not recorded either on the "marriage entry" made at the time of marriage or the divorce form (date of birth in conjunction with full name is the most common identifier used to link demographic and administrative records). Their absence prevents marriage and divorce events being linked into the ONS Longitudinal Study.

  Because a number of benefits (and pensions) are dependant on legal marital status, a database providing up-to-date information would be invaluable.

  "Living arrangements" are now diverse ie married and living together, married and living apart, co-residential cohabitation, living alone (without a partner)—and living apart together. These include some groups of individuals, some of them highly mobile or living in more than one household, who are especially prone to change households. That creates particular difficulties in making timely and accurate estimates of local population estimates. Accurate knowledge would also help to minimise benefit fraud by persons cohabiting or living apart together and sharing bills but claiming single parent status, and facilitate the collection of "rates".

  Furthermore, a Population Register containing the legal marital status of each member of the population would confirm the declared marital status when individuals marry. The Superintendent Registrar may require evidence of divorce but it seems in many instances takes the person's word. It would also help to minimise repeated "sham marriages" entered into to facilitate immigration.

  Many individuals have legitimate residency status in more than one place. A Population Register that recorded secondary residences in addition to the principal residence would facilitate alternative definitions of "population"—increasingly needed to reflect reality.

  In the medium and long term the financial benefits would be considerable. A census might no longer be needed and possibly eventually some other large databases. The Netherlands held its last census in 1971 and relies on the population registers and surveys. In Sweden, where the last census was held in 1990, all "censuses" starting with the 2005 census will be based entirely on population registers (Bruhn 2001).


  Clearly whatever the eventual savings, the initial costs of a Population Register and the linkage of person-numbers with all administrative data would be substantial.

  Recent public-sector IT problems—the NHS computerisation, the Registrars' computerisation, difficulties with on-line tax forms, have weakened confidence in the ability of UK Government agencies to complete major IT projects.

  Even more, public confidence in security is currently low following the way that HM Revenue and Customs, DVLA and other bodies have treated confidential data.

  But it should be noted that these problems did not arise from a lapse in security in the actual computer systems, but from undisciplined negligence in administrative procedures for transferring confidential data from one official body to another; involving physical, not electronic data. Progress will depend on the rebuilding of confidence in official competence to repair error and avoid it in future, through a more successful track record in IT related projects.

  However secure systems on a huge scale can be made to work. We take for granted that our credit card and PIN number would deliver money from ATMs or purchase goods in almost any country in the world in a few seconds, with several billion such transactions every year worldwide. In commercial systems there is and incentive for individuals to monitor the status of their account and generally cooperate with the requirements of the system. Public systems need an analogous incentive.

  Furthermore we already rely on several huge computerised national datasets (eg for National Insurance), which work well, do not give rise to privacy problems and some of which already give each of us a unique identifier. Taken together they are more than three-quarters of the way to a national register.

  Privacy issues are very important and provoke much opposition (Rose 1999, Watner and McElroy 2003). Even without a population register or PN, proposed systems raise problems. For example, the data to be collected through the current e-borders initiative would, at least in theory, enable the government and the security services to build up and possibly retain indefinitely all information on international movement by UK travellers; when, where to and for how long. Helpful to the security services, possibly alarming for the rest of us.

  We should remind ourselves, however, that systems similar to that proposed have been introduced successfully, and have worked well for decades, in a number of European countries that consider their arrrangements to be the highest manifestation of human rights and freedom, and which certainly show no signs of obvious oppression, or of breach of privacy scandals. However, foreign systems cannot be imported piecemeal—the UK may not yet be prepared for all the benevolent bureaucratic intrusions of Scandinavian state feminism. And the largest of the countries discussed here—the Netherlands—has 16 million people compared with the UK's 60 million.


  In the short run it is important to implement the improvements to the existing systems proposed by ONS, some of which are noted the Appendix 1. Other improvements are also suggested. But the systems on which these are based are obsolete and reaching the limit of improvement. Some, such as the IPS, were designed for other purposes and have been press-ganged into functions for which they were always ill-suited; with their inadequacy sharply revealed under modern pressures. Others, like the Census and mid-year estimates, may no longer be "fit for purpose".

  More generally, appropriate new systems for determining the number and condition of the people, especially in respect of local authority needs and knowledge of internal migration, have never been developed at all. With the continuous raft of legislation and policy initiatives being implemented, with considerable thought, time and expense going into their formulation, it is regrettable that they cannot be properly evaluated through lack of reliable basic population data. That is what the population register and the person number would provide. The investment—and political will to make that investment—has been lacking.

  Thanks to their obsolescence, some of the fog of the 18th century population controversy is descending again on 21st century Britain to cloud our knowledge of our population and immigration. In the longer run it is essential to set aside demographic tinkering and ingenious but inadequate estimation and take the opportunity offered by modern IT to restore the opportunity lost in two centuries ago. Otherwise we will deserve once again the pity for our inadequate statistics recorded early in the 19th century by the distinguished Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet:


  "Lately at the [British Association] meetings at Cambridge . . . . . .. I heard from several distinguished persons that there was a general complain to the imperfection of elementary population documents in this country . . . It is indeed a subject of wonder to every intelligent stranger, that in a country so intelligent as England, with so many illustrious persons occupied in statistical enquiries, and where the state of the population is the constant subject of public interest, that the very basis on which all good legislation must be grounded had never been prepared; foreigners can hardly believe that such a state of things could exist in a country so wealthy, wise and great. (Adolphe Quetelet, cited in the Report of the Fourth Meeting of the British Association, London 1835, xxxix, in Glass (1973) p127.)


Agar, J. (no date) "Identity cards in Britain: past experience and policy implications." History and Policy. Policy Paper 33.pp. 13

An Act for Taking and Registering an Annual Account of the People and the Total Number of Marriages, Births and Deaths; and also the Total Number of Poor receiving alms from every Parish and Extraparochial Place in Great Britain. Geo III 1753. Hansard Parliamentary History of England XIV 1747-53) cols 1317 1365. In Glass 1973. pp 17-20.

Benton, P. and I. White (2003). "Looking Beyond the 2001 Census." Population Trends(113): 7-10.

Birch, D. (2007). "Making national identity cards work." Prospect (October 2007): 52-54.

Bowley, G. (2003). "The last census?" Prospect(92, November 2003).

Boyle, P. and D. Dorling (2004). "Editorial: the 2001 census: remarkable resource or bygone legacy of the `pencil and paper era'?" Area 36(2): 101- 110.

Bruhn, A. (2001). The 2005 population and Housing Census in Sweden will be totally register-based. Symposium on Global Review of 2000 Round of Population and Housing Censuses: Mid-decade Assessment and Future Prospects, New York, United Nations.

Chappell, R., L. Vickers, et al. (2000). "The use of patient registers to estimate migration." Population Trends(101): 19-24.

Diamond, I. (1993). Who and where are the missing million? British Society for Population Studies Annual Conference. Newcastle.

Diamond, I., O. Abbot, et al. (2003). "Key issues in the quality assurance of the one number census." Population Trends(113): 11-19.

Dumont, J.-C. and G. Lema-®tre (2005). Counting Immigrants and Expatriates in OECD countries: a new perspective. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers No. 25. Paris, OECD.

Duncan, C., R. Chappell, et al. (2002). "Rebasing the annual mid-year population estimates for England and Wales." Population Trends(109): 9-14.

Enterprise Privacy Group (2005). The Identity Project: an assessment of the UK Identity Card and its implications. London, London School of Economics Department of Information Systems.

Evans, H. Vickers, L. and E. Wright (2007) Using administrative data sources in the estimation of emigration. Population Trends 128, 33-40.

Fullerton, P. J. (2003). "A demographic statistics service for the 21st century." Population Trends(113): 32-39.

Glass, D. V. (1973). Numbering the People. Farnborough, Saxon House.

Glover, S., C. Gott, et al. (2001). Migration: an economic and social analysis. Home Office Research and Development Directorate Occasional Paper No 67. London, Home Office.

Home Office (2006). Control of Immigration Statistics United Kingdom 2005 Cm 6904. London, The Stationery Office.

Home Office (2007). Accession Monitoring Report May 2004—September 2007 A8 Countries. London, Home Office Border and Immigration Agency.

Hornsey, D. (1993). "The effect of computerisation of the NHS Central Register on internal migration statistics." Population Trends(74): 34-41.

Mallet, S. B. (1929). "Reform of Vital Statistics: outline of a system of national registration." Eugenics Review 21(87-94).

National Center for Health Statistics (1980). The Person-Number Systems of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Israel. Vital and Health Statistics. Data Evaluation and Methods Research, Series 2, Number 84.. Hyattsville, MD, National Center for Health Statistics.

ONS (no date) Implications of 2001 Census—why census shows fewer men.

ONS (2003). Impacts and Implications of the Revision to 2001 population Estimates. London, Office for National Statistics.

ONS (2003). Discussion paper: Proposals for an Integrated Population Statistics System. London, Office for National Statistics.

ONS (2003). "Report: Internal migration estimates for local and former health authorities in England and Wales 2002." Population Trends(113): 69-73.

ONS (2004). Results of 2001 census-based local authority studies. Press release 8 July 2004. London, ONS. pp. 4

ONS 2006 A One-Number Census: Census 2001 was the most accurate count of the UK population ever achieved.

ONS (2006). Report of the Inter-departmental Task Force into International Migration statistics. London, ONS.

ONS (2007). Improved Methods for Population Statistics Revisions in 2007. London, ONS.

ONS (2007). International Migration. Migrants entering or leaving the United Kingdom and England and Wales. Series MN No.32. London, Office for National Statistics.

Pereira, R. (2002). "The Census Coverage Survey—the key element of a one-number census." Population Trends (108): 16-31.

Poulain, M., N. Perrin, et al. (2006). Towards Harmonised European Statistics on European Migration (THESIM). Louvain la Neuve, Universitaires de Louvain Presses.

Redfern, P. (1990). "A Population Register or Identity Cards for 1992?." Public Administration 68(4): 505-515.

Redfern, P. (2004). "An alternative view of the 2001 census and future census taking." Journal of the Royal Statistical Society A 167(2): 209-228.

Redfern, P. (2007). Memorandum submitted by Philip Redfern. Written Evidence submitted to the Treasury sub-Committee Report on Preparations for the 2011 Census. House of Commons Treasury sub-Committee: Preparations for the 2011 Census. HC 326-i. London, The Stationery Office: 4.

Registrars-General England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. (1939). National Register: United Kingdom and Isle of Man. Statistics of Population on 29 September 1939 by Sex, age and marital condition. London, HMSO.

Rose, N. S. (1999). Powers of Freedom: reframing political thought. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Salt, J. (2007). International Migration and the United Kingdom. Report of the United Kingdom SOPMI Correspondent to the OECD 2006. London, Migration Research Unit, University College London.

Salt, J. (2007). International Migration Statistics: Surfeit or shortage? Royal Statistical Society Annual Conference. York, Migration Research Unit, University College London.

Salt, J., A. Singleton, et al. (1994). Europe's International Migrants. Data Sources, Patterns and Trends. London, HMSO.

Simpson, L. (2007). "Fixing the population: from census to population estimate." Environment and Planning A 39(5): 1045-1057.

Smith, L. and A. Sharfman (2007). "Assessing the feasibility of making short-term migration estimates." Population Trends(127): 21-29.

Watner, C. and W. McElroy, Eds. (2003). National Identification Systems: Essays in Opposition, McFarland.

Woodbridge, J. (2005). Sizing the Illegal Immigrant Population in the UK. Home Office Online Report 29 / 05. London, Home Office.




  The UK has not has a satisfactory census since 1981. Censuses totals are compared with the annual population estimates for the same year derived from the updating of the previous census by the intervening total of birth and deaths and net migration. In theory the two totals should agree when the census total (usually April) is adjusted to fit the population estimate (usually mid-year). It is, however, a moot point to decide which of the two should be regarded as the benchmark, and neither will be exactly accurate. Both the censuses of 1991 and 2001 deviated considerably from the corresponding population estimate and, despite every effort, each has turned out to be in error, or at least remain controversial. In 1991 the estimates rolled forward from 1981 were preferred (erroneously) over the census. In 2001, the census was preferred (only partly erroneously) over the estimates rolled forwards from 1991.

  The census of 1991 generated a population (49,890,000 in England and Wales) over one million fewer than that expected from the 1991 population estimates updated from the 1981 census (51,105,000); the so-called "missing million". For various reasons, particularly its finding of an implausible low sex ratio of 94.1 males per 100 females, the census, not the estimates, was deemed to be in error, and various upward adjustments were made (Diamond 1993).

  In order to avoid the repetition of these problems and the difficulties caused, notably to local authorities, of a number of estimates of population for the same year, exceptional efforts were made to create a "one number" census for 2001. All the statistical expertise that money could buy was assembled to this end; no less than 50 statistical working papers were produced in preparation of the census methodology. That included an exceptionally large post -census enumeration survey, the Census Coverage Survey, of 320,000 households, using a sampling methodology separate from that of the census (Pereira 2002). That was intended to avoid the defects in the much smaller Census Validation Survey from 1991 (6,000 households) whose methodology followed that of the census and therefore tended to duplicate its errors, those missing in the census also being missed by the survey.

  Accordingly, not without reason, the 2001 census was deemed to be the most accurate ever held (Diamond et al. 2003, ONS 2006). Despite this confidence, it remains the case that the kind of households that are likely to escape or evade the census are also likely to escape or evade any surveys for the same reasons. No serious attempt has been made, or perhaps could be made, to consider the illegally resident population, for which 430,000 is an officially accepted estimate (Woodbridge 2005). Some of them might be caught by the census, others not. ONS (2006) has continued to insist upon the infallibility of the census, a view supported by some outside experts (Boyle and Dorling 2004). Its circumstances, however certainly invite scepticism: with postal delivery, with 30,000 fewer field staff than in 1991, among other factors, the actual response rate was only 94% of the expected number of households in the frame. The missing households and individuals and their characteristics had to be imputed from the CVS (response rate 91%) and other information. Once again the eventual "one number" for 2001, like that of 1991, was about one million persons fewer (the original discrepancy was 1.2 million) than that expected from the population estimates rolled forward from 1991. And like the original results of that survey, the sex ratio was surprisingly low, 94.8 males per 100 females, with a particular deficit of young males compared with the population estimates. Because of the faith placed in the reliability of the census, this time the intercensal estimates were deemed to be in error. For good reasons the registrations of births and of deaths are believed to be as complete as can be. By a process of elimination suspicion therefore fell on only other arithmetic components of the estimates, the migration statistics and the base population of the 1991 adjusted census totals. Migration statistics are the most fragile of all the three components of demographic change.

  In the UK they depend primarily on the voluntary International Passenger Survey (IPS) of international travellers. This generates annual estimates of gross immigrant inflow, gross emigrant outflow and the net migration that comprises the consequent annual increase or decrease of the UK population from migration. International migrants are considered to be those entering the UK intending to stay for at least 12 months, and those leaving the UK intending to be away for at least 12 months. That is the internationally accepted definition of an international migrant, as defined by the United Nations. The IPS gross and net totals must be adjusted for movement from the Irish Republic and for visitor switchers (those entering the UK allegedly for shorter periods than 12 months who change their minds) and migrant switchers (those leaving the UK for short periods who stay abroad longer than 12 months) and asylum seekers. The small samples of intended immigrants (2,965 interviews in 2005) and the even smaller sample of intended emigrants (781 in 2005) are then grossed up by the sample fraction to produce national-level estimates. Suspicion fell particularly on the emigration data, backed up by some evidence of over-staying by some young male UK citizens in Australia and other favoured destinations, provoking much irreverent media hilarity about hundreds of thousands of missing British males disporting themselves on Bondi beach (Bowley 2003).

  That conclusion, that emigration, mostly of UK males, had been under-estimated annually by about 350,000 over the decade, for which there was claimed to be some, albeit rather circumstantial supportive evidence from Australia and other destinations, the details of which remain unpublished. That in turn required the annual estimates of emigration and therefore net migration and mid-year populations for previous years to be adjusted downwards in proportion and the 1991 total to be adjusted downwards by 375,000, somewhat closer to its original total.

  These adjustments of the national totals required local authority totals to be revised downwards as well, in some areas much more than in others. That inevitably provoked protests from local authorities which saw the basis for rate support grant being cut at a time when their own population estimates, based on rates, school enrolment, electoral rolls and other evidence contradicted the downward revision imposed by ONS. Those protests and other uncertainties provoked further enquiry that began to make the "one number" census into a two -number census at least in some areas. Calculation of the 2002 mid-year population estimates (MYE) for England and Wales revealed the need to revise upwards the 2001 mid-year estimates which had been based on the census, by 193,000. That only amounted to 0.36% of the total but the great majority were males aged 20-50; those whom the census had found to be missing. In fact the census had missed 187,000 males. Their restoration to the 2001 MYE restored the sex-ratios to a more normal level except for the 20-24 and 35-39 age-group (ONS 2003). Further revisions in response to local authority protests restored a further 0.1% of the total (ONS 2004). Some of the LA complaints were vindicated: the 2001 population of Westminster, previously reduced by 25%, was raised by 10% and of Manchester by 7%—three years after the event. The gap between the one-year census and the original mid-year estimates was gradually being nibbled away. A gap of 290,000 (later reduced to 208,000) remained between the 1991-based estimates to 2001 and the 2001 census, however, which defied clear explanation.

  This deficit was assigned to a demographic innovation entitled "unattributed demographic change" which for a while was a regular element of population estimates, of 27,000 per year. It provoked some unkind satire in some quarters as a "new miracle ONS ingredient" for shrinking migration estimates, banishing awkward inconsistencies and keeping the 2001 census (nearly) infallible. This product was withdrawn from the market in 2004. These upward revisions in population estimates naturally required a re-revision of the migration estimates, partly restoring the former cuts. Population estimates for 1992-2001 took some time to stabilise.

  Finally the 2001 census was criticised, from a more fundamental viewpoint, by Philip Redfern, former Deputy Director, OPCS (now ONS) (Redfern 2004). Demographic analysis was deployed, using sex-ratio evidence, to cast serious doubt on the correctness of the upward adjustments made to the 1991 census and showing that acceptance of the 2001 census results imply a highly unusual sex ratio among British emigrants abroad which is not supported by censuses in the receiving countries, Restoring "normality" would require the addition of 500,000 males to the British population in 2001 (Redfern 2007). That would certainly lay to rest the "unattributed demographic change" discussed above.


  These are generally held to be the most complete. Improvements could be made not so much in the recording of the total number of vital events but in the information that is collected. Major defects here are the lack of information directly relating to true (biological) birth order. That information, important for estimating completed family size and its distribution and the extent to which current period measures of fertility my be giving a misleadingly low picture of future birth rates, has to be estimated indirectly from surveys. With nearly half of all children born outside marriage, the 1938 Population (Statistics) Act needs to be revised to require parents to record all previous live-born children, not just those in the current marriage. There may also be a case for asking for nationality to be collected.

  For some time there has been pressure within ONS for information on ethnic origin of mother and father and / or child to be collected on birth registration. With the advent of questions on religion in the census and the LFS and other surveys, pressure to include that variable may also arise. That would undoubtedly be convenient for those (such as this author) who are interested in the demography of ethnic minorities and the projection of their populations. As it stands, it is argued elsewhere, on general grounds, that this should be resisted. The fundamental reason advanced here is that (although accepted in the census and LFS by the majority of respondents) it is an intrusion on privacy, requiring self-definition which some may be unwilling to make. In practical terms this difficulty will become more pronounced in future as an increasing number of parents have multiple ancestry and therefore an increasing number of babies have really complicated ancestry, a problem already emerging in the US census and which our won will follow as open questions on ethnicity and multiple answers become general. Furthermore the labelling of very young children with an ethnic or religious label at birth would categorise them in ways that they may wish later in life to change or reject. It would open the door to the further subdivision of the British population on ethnic tramlines, from birth onwards.

  Marriage and Divorce records need to be altered to include the dates of births of the (ex) partners. That would permit them to be linked with the ONS Longitudinal Study.


  Generally these are the most troublesome aspect of demographic data for various rather intractable reasons. Migration data are satisfactory in very few countries, Australia being one exception. The basic problems are well known, the very large scale of flows in each direction, of which only a small proportion are intended migrants, the uncertainty of duration of stay or absence, the relative ease in many countries of evasion of control and over-staying.UK sources measure both flow of migrants in and out of the country and the "stock" of immigrants living in the country. None is satisfactory.

  Flow data are given by the International Passenger Survey and the Home Office Control of Immigration Statistics.

  The manifold problems arising from the voluntary nature, incomplete coverage of ports and small sample size for the International Passenger Survey have been noted above. It does have the advantage, unusual in the developed world, of capturing a small sample of intended emigrants as well as immigrants, thereby permitting annual gross and net population change to be recorded according to the international definition of international migration. Furthermore the IPS apples to all intended migrants irrespective of citizenship, while the Home Office Control of Immigration Statistics data only refer, in any detail, to inflow only of non-EEA citizens only. The latter purport to be a complete description of all legal entries to the United Kingdom, with particular emphasis on acceptances of non-EU citizens according to a time limit (eg under work permit, or provisionally as spouses), or acceptances for settlement: spouses with entry clearance certificates or persons who entered earlier subject to a time limit now lifted.

  Difficulties with the International Passenger Survey include the following:

    Response is voluntary, although the response rate is quite high (83% in 2005).

    Only 90% of estimated flows are covered (although that is being improved)

    Data rest on stated intentions, not actual out-turn.

  Basic IPS data need to be supplemented with information from separate sources on movement from the Irish Republic, data from the Home Office on visitor switchers (persons given extended leave to remain which puts them into the "international migrant" category, migrant switchers, relating to those who stay abroad for longer than intended, and asylum seekers and dependants adjusted for those removed, or who leave, before 12 months. All that together generates "Total International Migration" (TIM) data.

  Those components are published, but not the details about how they are put together. ONS should do that, in the interests of transparent statistics and independent scrutiny.

  The small sample size precludes detailed analysis as to country of origin / destination or citizenship etc, purpose of journey, qualifications, or information relevant to legal status of entry of the kind obtained from Home Office statistics. Overall standard error is 3.7% on gross inflows, 4.8% on gross outflows and much larger when subdivided. A8 migration estimates, for example, were based on 78 interviews in 2005. In an attempt to keep standard error within acceptable limits, omnibus categories are lumped together such that they that they preclude effective analysis, other categories are to say the least uninformative. In 2005, of net migration of 185,000. 24,000 (13%) was recoded as "other" and 54,000 (29%) as "no reason stated", and a high proportion of countries of origin were tabulated as "other foreign" (for all details see ONS 2007 and Table 1 below).

"Other foreign" category in the 2005 ONS international migration statistics.
"Other foreign" immigrants (thousands) source
Gross inflow Net inflowtable no.
Citizenship14062 2.1
Country of last or next residence162 582.2
EU and other foreign country of 89 522.4
last or next residence
Country of birth147 842.5

Note: All tables except table 2.1 include all citizenships including UK.

Source: ONS (2007) International Migration Series MN No. 32. London, ONS.

  No distinction is made between fiancé(e)s or others moving in order to marry and those coming to join established spouses.

  Numbers of those entering and leaving for purposes of work have been surprisingly similar in many years until recently, suggesting a zero net gain for the workforce. That point is sharpened by the OECD finding that the UK is the only major OECD country to lose almost as many tertiary-educated person to emigration as it has gained from immigration (Dumont and. Lemaitre 2005). However without information on whether such emigrants are leaving from an employment in the UK to work abroad or not, it is impossible to tell what proportion are young foreigners who entered as students and are leaving to take up their first job in their country of origin.

  In the last few years, the number of countries for which data are returned has been diminished, and tabulated data (in thousands) are no longer presented to one decimal point but as integers.

  ONS staff can provide can provide on request special tabulations for some specified countries, necessarily amalgamated over several years, a service which is greatly appreciated. But in the nature of things along a few countries can be so analysed before sample size precludes any statistically respectable comment.

  Short-term migration (more than three months but less than 12) is not captured by current IPS procedures, although that is in hand. Short-term migration may now be an important component of additions to the population following the freedom of movement for citizens of A8 countries from May 2004. If half a million entered staying for six months and on departure were replaced by another half million who stayed for six months, the population would be increased by a constant half-million (though different people) although net migration according to INS would be zero. The circumstances of the A8 migration also make switching from short to long-term stay likely, as opinion polls indicate. The Accession Monitoring Report for September 2007 (Home Office 2007) states that a cumulative total of 715,000 approved applications have been made since May 2004, not including the self-employed. ONS estimates of net migration from the A8 countries is 60,000 per year for the last three years. That figure is implausibly low.

  All these problems are worse with respect to emigrant flows because of the smaller sample size, making it more difficult to analyse the recent upsurge in emigration.

  Except for some categories of visitor switchers, and those granted entry for family reasons, there is little useful connection or correlation with the data published by the Home Office Control of Immigration Statistics.

  Although IPS data are available for analysis, that dataset excludes the raw IPS or TIM migration data which can only be obtained conditionally by special request. No Excel files or tables are linked to the web versions of the annual MN International Migration volume (unlike the FM1 series on births).

Home Office Control of Immigration Statistics

  These notionally complete data on lawful entries to the UK apply to inward migration only and, in detail, to non-EEA citizens only except that, for the time being, data are also given in respect of citizens of A8 Accession states.

  While notionally "flow" data, almost all persons given leave to enter on a long-term basis have already been resident in the country for up to four years. Only a small, although growing proportion (6090 of 179,120 granted settlement in 2005) are accepted for settlement on arrival. It is not possible, at least with the data published, to reconstruct the numbers actually entering the country for particular purposes or other categories in any specified calendar year.

  The categories by which data are tabulated refer to the category of the Immigration Rules under which the person is admitted to the UK and citizenship. In respect of the latter they are fully detailed, unlike the IPS data.. They are not primarily demographic. As there are no Rules governing exit from the UK, no data are collected from departures although the overall count that was dropped in 1993 has been re-instated.

  Although the categories by which passengers are given leave to enter by purpose of journey are quite detailed, they do not enable some important elements of migration flows to be distinguished. For example in the total of persons granted settlement as a spouse in 2005 (45,970, 26% of all granted settlement in that year) those entering a year or two earlier as fiancé(e)s, mostly through arranged marriage, cannot be distinguished from established spouses joining their husbands or wives. It is therefore impossible to distinguish between family re-union migration and family formation migration. Until 1996 data were published (table 2.16, 2.17), which made it possible to determine the number of years between marriage, or arrival or settlement of spouse, or arrival the year of marriage, or settlement of spouse, and the year of acceptance for settlement for marriage from the Indian-sub-continent that those entering had been married, which permitted such an estimate. That has been discontinued, with no comparable data to replace it. Up to that year, the very large and growing preponderance were of very recently married couples: family formation migration was replacing family re-union migration in the family migration category, as it has in other countries such as the Netherlands, where data are superior in this regard.

  It is difficult to understand how 4565 persons in 2005 (2.5%) could be granted settlement as "category unknown" (Table 5.1) or how there could be 290,000 given leave to enter the UK in 2005 under the category "Others given leave to enter"—a much greater number than some of the categories for which detailed are given. Furthermore, when analysed further the 196,000 under this heading in 2004 are revealed numerically to be dominated by 105,000 "Other passengers given limited leave to enter" and 74,700 who were given leave to enter for "unknown" reasons (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 2004 14/05 table 1.2 and related Excel file). How can people be admitted under the Immigration Rules for "unknown" reasons?

  All non-EEA international travellers are required to fill in a Landing Card on arrival. Some material which would be very useful in understanding migration flows and helping comparability with IPS data, such as country of birth, is not even extracted from it, never mind tabulated.

  Independent analysis of this material though a suitably anonymised sample of records is not possible, although some Excel files can be obtained on request.

  Some other annual flow data are generated by various administrative processes; the issue of work permits, of national insurance numbers to overseas citizens, and more recently the data from the Worker's Registration Scheme mentioned above. Labour migration estimates from the national insurance numbers do not correspond to the number of work permits or IPS data on the number entering for work, but there are good reasons why this should be so (see Salt 2007).


  For obvious reasons no stock data are available for emigration, although some countries (eg Republic of Ireland) ask questions in sample surveys on intentions to emigrate. Censuses and immigration data of other countries are used for this. Among various administrative sources of data (driving licences, NHS data) only the information on pensions seems a likely contributor to the picture of emigration from the UK (Evans et al 2007). On immigration, a variety of sources give information on the number of persons born in specified countries in considerable detail; the decennial census, a number of surveys including the Labour Force and General Household Surveys and the forthcoming Integrated Household Survey. Some, including the census and the LFS, also ask questions on the residence 12 months earlier. Responses to that count as international migrants, but this is a measure of gross migration inflows, minus those who returned less than 12 months before the census or who had died. Unfortunately, in some ethnic minority populations, the number of persons not answering that particular question in the LFS is about the same as the number who recorded an address overseas twelve months ago given. That makes the data difficult to use as an indication of migration flows.


  Although the Home Office gives leave to enter the UK it has no general or central way of knowing where foreign citizens are living once they have entered the United Kingdom. Foreign citizens are obliged to register with the police locally (are they still?) but the Home office maintains no up to date address list, in fact no address list at all except for asylum claimants. As the Home Office appears to be unclear how many asylum seekers there are in the country by some hundreds of thousand or so, this system does not seem to be very efficient.


  Since the new immigration policy has increased immigration to unprecedented levels and substantially increased the size of the immigrant and foreign-citizen population. Accordingly there has been heightened increase in the characteristics of immigrant and foreign, as opposed to ethnic minority, populations in various areas of the national life: incomes, housing, workforce participation and employment, health, education and crime. The new policy has been justified primarily on the grounds of the beneficial effects of immigrant, as opposed to broader ethnic minority population, on the workforce. Some of the bases for these justifications, for example the calculations presented by Gott et al. (2002, p. 29) compare favourably the tax paid by immigrant (not the whole ethnic minority) populations with the welfare benefits and rebates that they receive. Those calculations employ relatively orthodox statistics reasonably available from public sources, in conjunction with demographic data on the size and age-structure of the populations concerned. Other costs and potential benefits, outside the tax and welfare accounts for which data are not so readily available, are not included or are explicitly excluded. For example the earlier paper explicitly assumed that costs per head of primary and secondary education, and share of expenditure on health services provision were equal, within each age-group, across all categories in the UK population as a whole. This is understandable given the difficulties of doing otherwise. The authors go on to acknowledge, however, that rates of utilisation may be different for public education and health and that providers might incur different costs for migrants.

  In fact they are known not to be equal, although the statistics are more patchy or hard to get at. Were those to be routinely available, a more balanced analysis would be possible of costs and benefits in respect of this highly significant policy. Statistics on immigrant and even more foreign citizen populations in all the areas above are either not collected or are sparse. Instead, UK statistics in these areas have developed along a different route; with the prime focus on ethnic affiliation, irrespective of birthplace and nationality. Ethnic categorisation seems to have taken priority partly for ideological reasons, from a distaste of the category "immigrant"; to promote the notion of equal entitlement or special measures irrespective of immigration status or nationality. In respect of the contentious issue of NHS utilisation, no statistics of any kind appear to be available whether referring to ethnic origin, birthplace or nationality. Doctors argue that it is not their job to collect such data, and some might object to doing so as being unprofessional. But that duty could quite properly devolve on NHS management, where there is hardly a shortage of personnel.


  Since the early 2000s, probably spurred by the problems encountered by even the best -laid plans for the 2001 census, the ONS has begun a programme to improve statistics on population and migration. No doubt the details will be presented in a submission from the ONS submission and need not be repeated here. These included ambitious proposals for an Integrated Population Statistics System (ONS 2003). That was intended to link census, survey and administrative data at individual level to produce, after the 2011 census, a population statistics database covering all England and Wales to be continuously updated from a variety of sources and to be related, in manner unspecified, to any population register of which it would appear to be a precursor. That would then be the source of all future population statistics. At the same time there were quality reviews of birth and migration statistics and, more recently, the creation of demographic oversight bodies that introduced (2007) a revisions policy for demographic statistics. Further steps were taken in response to glaring inadequacies revealed about data on migration and migrants and their effects upon population, some of them noted above. These included setting up the National Statistics Centre for Demography and a superior review committee.

  Following an inter-departmental task force reported on migration (ONS 2006), renewed interest was shown in "administrative" resources of demographic data such as pensions information, NHS information and driving licence data from DVLA. These cover a much higher proportion of the population than does any survey). A rolling programme of improvements to population statistics has been set out by the Improving Migration and Population Statistics (IMPS) initiative October 2006 and its 2007 update.

  ONS are thus doing their professional best to improve the tools which they have at their disposal.

  Migration statistics are to be improved by:

    1.  Increase of the IPS Emigration sample from 800 or so.

    2.  IPS survey cover to be increased in some ports of entry and extended to others for the first time.

    3.  Steps to measure short-term migration. That has become much more demographically important following the free access to the UK labour market of the A8 countries since May 2004. In recognition of the potentially powerful effects of continuous short-term migration of a duration that does not show up on the IPS radar (ie less than 12 months), new approaches are being developed to measure it (Smith and Scharfman 2007).

    4.  using "administrative" sources to estimate migration and its effects: Work permit data, Workers Registration Scheme, NHS records and National Insurance numbers (NiNo)

    5.  Questions in LFS on previous residence 12 months ago. At present this question is only asked in the Q1 version of this quarterly survey. Henceforth it will be asked in all quarters' surveys, quadrupling the sample size.

    6.  The Home Office is developing its "e-borders" initiative to record electronically the passport details of everyone entering and leaving the UK. But it is not due to become operational for another six years.

    7.  Various improvement are proposed for the 2011 census, including restoring the question on nationality, dropped since 1961.

  The most important innovation is the proposal for e-borders- electronic processing of all arrivals and departures from the UK. But e-borders will take a long time—on stream by 2013. The specification yet vague- it is still out to tender, little has been made public. It is not clear, for example, whether individual records of entries will be linked with the same individuals exit records.

  While UK citizens will have biometric passports to be scanned; what to do with others may depend on passport type. The entry cards currently used will be dropped. Those coming from the EEA may not be asked purpose of journey. The collection of data on departures seems to be down to the carrier.

  Work permit and the statistics that they generate will be on the introduction of the Points System. It is not clear where information on labour migration will replace it.


  Some problems are likely to remain insoluble. Because there are three Registrars-General (for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) population data abut the UK is always available later, and less abundant, than that referring to England and Wales or the other areas. The level of analysis and detail of publication for England and Wales is superior to that in the other areas. Given the current fashion for devolution, this failure to provide uniform and timely data for the whole country may get worse.

  A question on emigration intentions, and on children ever-born, should be asked in each quarterly issue of the LFS (each has a sample size of 60,000) and of the Integrated Household Survey (formerly Continuous Population Survey) which may amalgamate the LFS, GHS and other surveys from 2008.

  The migration element of the IPS has always suffered from being a minor component of a Board of Trade survey primarily concerned with balance of payments, tourism and the like. In view of the importance of international migration, the migration element in the IPS should be prioritized to ensure more rapid publication, or separated completely from original Board of Trade enquiry. The sample size relating to migration, in and out, should be greatly increased. Unfortunately a really large (expensive) increase would be needed to reduce the standard error substantially and permit more detailed tabulation.

  As far as possible Home office Control of Immigration Statistics and ONS data should be harmonised, with as many categories in common as possible. That would require more detailed tabulation in each, and the common used of grouped categories (the useful combination "New Commonwealth" countries, widely employed in the IPS, was dropped in the CIS data after 1996.

  All population statistics—including Home Office data—should be brought under the supervision of the Statistics Commission.

  A clear distinction should be made in both data sets between family re-union and family formation migration (relevant data dropped 1997)

  IPS and HO data should be available in machine readable form as anonymised records for individual tabulation

  The IPS immigration questions could be made compulsory on non—UK citizen immigrants.

  Attempts should be made to expand of "Other or unknown" categories in all migration data, and publication / tabulation of IPS data is needed on a more refined basis especially in terms of country of origin / birth / and purpose of journey. Larger sample size would be essential, and closer linkage with Home Office data on inflows.



  A unique person number is given to all individuals at birth and on immigration

  For Belgian Citizens the following data are available:

    Name and Surname


    Date and place of birth

    Address of residence

    Person number


    Composition of household

    Place and date of death

  For non-citizens the following further details are required

    Immigration Service number


    Refugee status

    Country and place of origin

    Limits on duration of stay

    Type number and validity period of work permit

    Date of recognition as refugee

    Right of return to country of origin

    Visa information

  Type of inscription on voting list (ie whether entitled to vote in EU or local elections)

  Source: Poulain, M., N. Perrin, et al. (2006). Towards Harmonised European Statistics on European Migration (THESIM). Louvain la Neuve, Universitaires de Louvain Presses.

December 2007

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 15 January 2008