Skip to main content

Migration: Statistics

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will take steps to improve her Department's information and data on (a) gross and net flows of immigration and (b) the geographical distribution of the immigrant population. (206846)

I have been asked to reply.

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 2 June 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what steps will be taken to improve information on the flows and the geographical distribution of international migration. (206846)

Much work has already been carried out to improve these statistics. The sample size of the International Passenger Survey was increased to collect more information on the flows of emigrants. Improvements to the methodology used for distributing migrants to the local authority level in the mid year population estimates were implemented (based principally on use of household and port survey sources in combination at regional level and IPS questions on length of stay). These changes were implemented in the mid-2006 population estimates issued in August 2007 and were used to revise previously published estimates for 2002 to 2005. They also fed into subsequent ONS population and labour market statistics (e.g. 2006-based National Population Projections, 2006-based Subnational Population Projections to be published in June 2008 and Labour Force survey reweightings issued in May 2008).

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.

A specific objective of the work programme relates to gaining better information on migrants as they enter or leave the country, and therefore making improvements to gross and net migration flows. This work includes:

improvements to port surveys to ensure they are more focussed on collecting migration information, cover more emigrant flows, and involve more of the ports that migrants typically arrive at or depart from,

a longer term aim of using data from the new e-borders programme (and other controlled migration systems) that will collect detailed administrative data on migrants.

The programme also includes research relating to improving the geographic distribution of migration within the UK, for example:

improving the statistical methodology of population estimation to take into account administrative sources that provide a more timely picture of the distribution of migrant populations than the 2001 Census,

developing methods for sharing key administrative data sources such as the Department for Work and Pensions data on benefits and the Department for Children, Schools and Families Schools Census data,

developing new and timely indicators of the impact of migration at the local level.

This is high priority work for the ONS and other government departments and is being progressed with due pace.