Timeline

 

 

Key Events:

  • 1086: First census in England and Wales carried out by William the Conqueror and published in the Domesday Book
  • 1500s: Elizabeth I carried out an early census by asking bishops to count the number of families in their dioceses
  • 1600s: James I (James VI of Scotland) asked bishops to provide numbers of families in the diocese to gauge the population.
  • 1801: First regular population census for Great Britain held
  • 1836: The Births and Deaths Registration Act and the Marriage Act received Royal Assent, thereby establishing secular system for recording births, marriages and deaths.
  • 1837: General Register Office (GRO) for England and Wales established
  • 1855: General Register Office (Scotland) established
  • 1864: General Register Office (Ireland) established
  • 1939: National register created for entire population and identity cards issued
  • 1940: The Government Social Survey, which began as the Wartime Social Survey, created
  • 1941: The only decade in which a census was not held since 1801
  • 1941: Central Statistical Office (CSO) established
  • 1952: National Health Service Central Register formed from National Registration records
  • 1968: Claus Moser, now Lord Moser, established the Government Statistical Service
  • 1969: Business Statistics Office created
  • 1970: General Register Office and Government Social Survey merged to create the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS)
  • 1989: Business Statistics Office merged with the Central Statistical Office
  • 1996: Office for National Statistics formed by merging CSO, OPCS and the statistics division of the Department of Employment
  • 2000: Statistics Commission and ‘National Statistics’ established
  • 2005: Announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of his intention to legislate for independence in statistics
  • 2006: The Statistics and Registration Service Bill is introduced to Parliament.
  • 2007: The Statistics and Registration Service Act receives Royal Assent.
  • 2008: The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 comes into force on 1 April, when the UK Statistics Authority is established (Statistics Commission abolished)

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Key Surveys and Publications:

  • 1801: The first ‘Census of Population’ took place on 10 March 1801. This gave the total number of people in England and Wales as nine million.
  • 1839: The first classification of causes of death was devised by the Registrar General.
  • 1841: The first ‘modern’ ‘Census of Population for England and Wales’ was carried out by the Registrar General – so-called because it required each householder to provide a self-completed schedule recording the names and characteristics of every individual in the household. This system has remained more or less unaltered to the present day.
  • 1849: The first publication of the Registrar General’s ‘Quarterly Return’ which continued until 1975 when it was replaced by ‘Population Trends’.
  • 1851: Two innovations were introduced in the processing and presentation of the Census results – the classification of people by their occupation, and geographical disaggregation.
  • 1854: The first publication of the ‘Statistical Abstract of the United Kingdom’ – later to become the ‘Annual Abstract’, first published in 1948.
  • 1855: The first publication of the Board of Trade’s ‘Annual Statistics of Trade’.
  • 1886: The first ‘Census of Wages/Earnings’ took place.
  • 1907: The first ‘Census of Production’ took place.
  • 1911: The Registrar General’s ‘Social Classes’ was introduced as a means of analysing population statistics according to occupation/employment status groups. In addition, The UK adopted the ‘International Classification of Diseases’ (ICD).
  • 1914: The launch of the first ‘Cost of Living Index’.
  • 1928: The launch of the first ‘Index of Production’.
  • 1939: In September, as a wartime security measure, all citizens were allocated a national registration number from which the Registrars General created a comprehensive ‘National Register’ of the population of the United Kingdom. This later became their National Health Service number.
  • 1941: This year saw the first official estimate of the ‘National Income and Expenditure’ (relating to 1938 and 1940).
  • 1946: The first publication of the ‘Monthly Digest of Statistics’
  • 1947: The Statistics of Trade Act was passed providing government statisticians with the opportunity to collect more information from industry and acting as the spur to the further development of economic statistics.
  • 1948: The first ‘Census of Production’ to take place under the auspices of the Statistics of Trade Act.
  • 1950: The first ‘Census of Distribution’ was undertaken.
  • 1951: The concept of Socio-economic groups was introduced in the analysis of the Census results.
  • 1952: National Registration, introduced in 1939 as a wartime security measure, was abolished in February 1952. In the meantime, the identity numbers and the registers had been used to prepare the National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR). The latter is a register of NHS patients which is kept up-to-date from returns submitted by the local registrars of births and deaths and Family Practitioner Committees (FPCs).
  • 1952: The National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR) was formed from the National Registration records introduced in 1939.
  • 1952: Publication of the first ‘National Income and Expenditure Blue Book’.
  • 1952: First Family Expenditure Survey (FES).
  • 1953: The ‘Hospital In-patient Enquiry’ was first carried out.
  • 1953: Publication of the first ‘Economic Trends’.
  • 1957: Launch of the first continuous ‘Family Expenditure Survey’.
  • 1960: Publication of the first ‘Balance of Payments Pink Book’.
  • 1961: Launch of the ‘International Passenger Survey’.
  • 1962: Publication of the first ‘Financial Statistics’.
  • 1970: The newly established OPCS launched the first major continuous multi-purpose survey under the sponsorship of the CSO – the ‘General Household Survey’.
  • 1970: First publication by the CSO of the annual ‘Social Trends’ which drew heavily on material held by the OPCS.
  • 1971: The start of the ‘Longitudinal Study’ which linked a sample of individuals from census to census and to records kept in the registration system.
  • 1973: OPCS launched the ‘Labour Force Survey’ on a biennial basis – a harmonised and synchronised household survey carried out by all members of the European Community.
  • 1975: First issue of OPCS’s official journal ‘Population Trends’.
  • 1982: The first British Crime Survey – which measures the amount of crime by collecting information about respondents’ experiences – was carried out.
  • 1983: The ‘Labour Force Survey’ was expanded to become annual and continuous.
  • 1988: The National Travel Survey is established as a continuous survey, providing a databank of personal travel information for Great Britain.
  • 1992: The Retail Sales Inquiry was expanded and became compulsory.
  • 1995: The responsibility for employment statistics is transferred from the Department of Employment to the CSO.
  • 1996: The Consumer Price Index (CPI), an internationally comparable measure of inflation, was established.
  • 1999: ONS began publishing the Public Sector Finances release, following the introduction of the new Public Finances framework.
  • 2000: ONS produced health expectancy measures for the first time. 2001: The Expenditure and Food Survey was established, merging the Family and Expenditure, and National Food surveys.
  • 2002: ONS produced Neighbourhood Statistics (NeSS) for the first time.
  • 2008: ONS established the Integrated Household Survey (IHS), bringing together data from, the General Lifestyle Survey (previously the General Household Survey), the Living Costs and Food survey (previously the Expenditure and Food Survey) and the Annual Population Survey.
  • 2009: The first Migration Statistics Quarterly Review was published, bringing together statistics on migration produced by ONS, the Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions.
  • 2010: ONS began publishing Annual Employment figures drawn from the Business Register and Employment Survey, which replaced the Annual Business Inquiry and the Business Register Survey.
  • 2010: ONS launched a programme of work on measuring national well-being, including a national debate, which gathered views on what matters to people.
  • 2011: ONS announced that – as part of the Beyond2011 programme – it would examine options for producing population and small area socio-demographic statistics, which have traditionally been core outputs of the Census.
  • 2012: ONS published its first Annual Experimental Subjective Wellbeing Results.
  • 2012: The British Crime Survey became known as the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and responsibility for the publication of crime statistics was transferred to ONS.

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Key Appointments:

  • 1941: Harry Campion was appointed as Director of the CSO.
  • 1967: Professor Claus Moser was appointed Director of the CSO. A year later he also became the Head of the newly created Government Statistical Service (GSS).
  • 1978: John Boreham succeeded Claus Moser as Director of the CSO and Head of the GSS.
  • 1985: Jack Hibbert succeeded John Boreham.
  • 1992: Bill McLennan succeeded Jack Hibbert.
  • 1996: Tim Holt became the Director of the newly-created ONS and Head of the GSS.
  • 2000: Len Cook was appointed as the first National Statistician, Director of ONS and Head of the GSS.
  • 2005: Karen Dunnell became the first woman to hold the post of National Statistician, Director of the ONS and Head of the GSS.
  • 2007: Sir Michael Scholar was appointed as the founding Chair of the newly created Statistics Board, later named the UK Statistics Authority.
  • 2009: Jil Matheson was appointed National Statistician, succeeding Karen Dunnell.
  • 2009: Stephen Penneck was appointed as Director General of ONS.
  • 2012: Andrew Dilnot was appointed as Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, succeeding Sir Michael Scholar.
  • 2012: Glen Watson succeeded Stephen Penneck as Director General of ONS.
  • 2014: John Pullinger was appointed National Statistician, succeeding Jil Matheson

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