19 JULY 1919, Page 13


(To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR.") SIR,—It is a matter of common knowledge to all who have had occasion to use official statistics, whether published or Depart- mental, that the national and Imperial equipment for obtaining and publishing statistical data is very imperfect in its scope and inadequate in its machinery. Further, the efforts made are Departmental, are under no common con- trolling or directing authority, and suffer very gravely from lack of co-ordination. There is no need to adduce proofs of these statements, nor to enumerate the various efforts, fruitless in the main, which have hitherto been made to remedy these defects.

The Council of the Royal Statistical Society have appointed a Special Committee to deal with the subject, in the belief that the time is now ripe for a new movement in the direction of reform, and that the consciousness of the existing defects is present to the minds of His Majesty's Ministers, Members of Parliament, and Civil Servants, as well as to others interested in statistics. It is proposed to petition His Majesty's Govern- ment to set up a Parliamentary Committee to examine the whole question of the collection and presentation of public statistics, and to report on means of improvement. It is believed that this method of procedure is more likely to be effective than the pressing of specific proposals on His Majesty's Ministers. The officers of the Local Government and other public bodies as well as of Scientific Societies are being invited to bring the matter at once before their Councils. Moreover, publicists, and others who are known to be interested, are being approached directly. We ask the courtesy of your columns to lend support to this movement, and we invite your readers to help with their influence and signa- tures. The Council will be glad if all who are disposed to sign such a petition would communicate with The Secretary, Official Statistics Committee, Royal Statistical Society. 9 Adelphi Terrace, W.C. 2. A copy of the petition will then in due course be sent to them for signature.—1 am, Sir, &c.,


Chairman, Official Statistics Committee.