To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to improve the business registers used for the collection of economic statistics.
Following the specific recommendation of the Armstrong/Rees review of DTI statistics in 1989 and the completion of a successful pilot study in 1991, a new interdepartmental business register is to be developed by the Central Statistical Office and the Department of Employment. This project is an integral part of the programme of measures designed to bring about improvements in economic statistics.The new register will be more comprehensive in coverage and designed to eliminate the differences between the existing separate registers of the two Departments. Its use will lead to improvements in the quality of data obtained from businesses which form the basis of a wide range of economic statistics series. Most of these series should benefit, especially those concerned with employment and productivity estimates. In addition there will be indirect benefits to the national accounts, focusing on the output measure of gross domestic product.The development cost of the project is expected to be £4.3 million and the new integrated register should come into use in 1993 for Northern Ireland inquiries and in 1994 for Great Britain inquiries.