Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, Director of Macroeconomics and National Accounts, to Lord Tebbit, dated June 2008.

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your Question on our assessment of the reliability of our estimate of the population of the United Kingdom. I am replying in her absence. (HL3904)

The accuracy of the United Kingdom (UK) mid-year population estimate is dependent on the quality of data available to measure components of population change (births, deaths and migration). International migration is the hardest component to measure.

Of the data sources used to estimate population estimates:

the Census provides a reliable base; estimates of the reliability of the latest Census have been published and are available here: www.statistics.;birth and death registrations are considered to accurately reflect numbers of events occurring in this country; andinternational migration is difficult to estimate, though good use is made of available sources, but estimates are subject to a margin of confidence (as is discussed below).

The principal source of international migration data is the International Passenger Survey (IPS). As with all surveys, the IPS is subject to sampling variability. Standard errors, a measure of how much a sample estimate differs from the true value because of random effects, can be calculated from IPS estimates.

All sources also have non-sampling errors, such as non-response and errors in the answers given by respondents to surveys. In common with all national statistics institutes that estimate population change from a census, the ONS does not currently provide a single error measure to summarise the sources of uncertainty in estimation.

Each time data become available from a new census, the ONS is able to review the accuracy of population

16 Jun 2008 : Column WA138

estimates made since the previous census by using the newly available information. The comparison that followed the census in 2001 highlighted the difficulty of estimating migration accurately.

It is considered that errors accumulated particularly in the latter half of the decade as the volume of migration flows increased in the late 1990s.

The need to improve migration and population estimates and provide more information on their accuracy has been recognised by the ONS for some time. In particular, the National Statistician commissioned an interdepartmental task force to look at how international migration estimates could be improved. It made recommendations in five broad areas to improve the compilation and presentation of international migration statistics, as follows:

improving the data available on numbers entering and leaving the United Kingdom;making effective use of new and existing administrative and survey data sources;improving local population estimates and projections used in allocating resources and developing services;improving the public reporting of population and migration statistics; andestablishing a wider range of timely indicators and analysis to inform the evidence base on migration and its impacts on policy and public services.

On 4 February 2008, the Minister for Local Government announced to the House that a cross-government programme would be put in place to improve population and migration statistics, driven by senior officials from central government and the Local Government Association, and led by the National Statistician. It will take forward the recommendations of the 2006 interdepartmental task force on migration statistics.

This is high priority work for the ONS and other government departments and is being progressed with due pace. Future progress will be reported through the improving migration and population statistics page on the website:

Some changes have already been put in place. For example, the sample size of the International Passenger Survey was increased to collect more information on the flows of emigrants and further changes have been made to the IPS to enhance the coverage of migrants as they enter or leave the UK. Improvements were also implemented in 2007 to the methodology used for distributing migrants to the local authority level in the mid-year population estimates.

Religious Freedom

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

16 Jun 2008 : Column WA139

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): All asylum applications are considered with great care on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the criteria set out in the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and 1967 Protocol by fully trained decision-makers, taking account of the latest country information and case law. Information about the situation of apostates is reflected in the country information that is made available to decision-makers by the UK Border Agency Country of Origin Information (COI) Service.

The COI Service provides accurate, objective, sourced and up-to-date information on asylum seekers' countries of origin.


Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The right to freedom of assembly and association is guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is for the national law of each member state to determine whether and to what extent it may give any additional collective action rights. This was reflected by the European Court of Justice in the Viking Line and Laval judgments: the right to take collective action (including the right to strike), as recognised in EU law, is to be protected, and may be restricted, in accordance with Community law and national law and practice.

16 Jun 2008 : Column WA140

Waste Management: Brofiscin Quarry

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): I am informed by the Environment Agency Wales that the Environment Agency has identified a remediation solution it would recommend for Brofiscin Quarry. This involves the treatment of polluted surface water and continued monitoring of surface and groundwater. An executive summary of the remediation options appraisal will soon be available on the Environment Agency's website. A CD of the full appraisal is available on request. I will place a hardcopy of the summary and the CD in the Library of the House.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: I am informed by the Environment Agency Wales that the Environment Agency has not yet formally concluded its “appropriate person” determination in respect of Brofiscin Quarry. It expects to do so shortly in compliance with the relevant legislation and statutory guidance. Encouraging voluntary remediation is an important objective of the contaminated land regime and the Environment Agency is currently exploring opportunities for such an approach.

Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page