Photo of Nick Hurd

Nick Hurd (- Shadow Minister (Charities, Social Enterprise and Volunteering), Shadow Minister; Ruislip - Northwood, Conservative)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office

(1) what safeguards her Department has put in place to ensure that the US administration will not be able to access or monitor Census data stored or processed by Lockheed Martin;

(2) what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the 2011 Census adopts the principles of data minimisation recommended by the Thomas and Walport Review of data sharing;

(3) what access Government Departments and their agencies will have to non-anonymised personal data collected in the 2011 Census;

(4) with reference to the written ministerial statement of 21 October 2009, Official Report, columns 55-56WS, on the draft Census (England and Wales) Order 2009, what data sources are being used to populate the central address register; and what use will be made of the central register in (a) England and (b) Wales following the 2011 Census;

(5) with reference to the Explanatory Note to the draft Census (England and Wales) Order 2009, what data were taken into account in determining that the provisions of the Order would not have an impact on the private or voluntary sector.

Photo of Angela Smith

Angela Smith (Minister of State (Third Sector), Cabinet Office; Basildon, Labour)

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

Letter from Jil Matheson, dated December 2009:

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent questions regarding the 2011 Census. I have grouped together the responses to those questions where there are common themes.

i) What guarantees or agreements her Department has obtained from the US Administration that the US Administration will not be able to access or monitor Census data stored or processed by Lockheed Martin. 302487

ii) What steps the Minister's Department is taking to ensure that the 2011 Census adopts the Principles of Data Minimisation as recommended by the Thomas and Walport Review of data sharing. 302488

iii) What access Government departments and their agencies will have to non-anonymised personal data collected in the 2011 Census. 302485

iv) With reference to the Written Ministerial Statement of 21 October 2009, Official Report, columns 55-56WS, on the Draft Census (England and Wales) Order 2009, what data sources are being used to populate the central address register; and what use will be made of the central register in (a) England and (b) Wales following the 2011 Census. 302490

v) With reference to the Explanatory Note to the Draft Census (England and Wales) Order 2009, what data were taken into account in determining that the provisions of the order would not have an impact on the private or voluntary sector. (302268)

i) In its response to the Treasury Committee's 2008 report on its enquiry into Counting the population, the Government noted that it did not consider it necessary or appropriate to consult the US authorities on this issue.

ONS has put in place rigorous organisational and contractual arrangements for data capture and processing to ensure that personal Census data will remain secure and confidential. The measures in place include:

all Census data is owned by ONS and both Census employees and contractors working on the Census sign a declaration of confidentiality to guarantee their understanding and compliance with the law;

contractual arrangements with Lockheed Martin UK Ltd ensure that only sub-contractors registered and based in the UK and either UK or EU owned will have access to any personal Census data;

no Lockheed Martin staff (from either the US parent or UK company) will have access to any personal Census data; and

all data will be processed in the UK and remain in the UK.

Further details of the arrangements can be found on the National Statistics website at the following links:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/2011-census-project/commitment-to-confidentiality/index.html

http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/2011-census-project/census-data-security-measures/index.html

http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/2011-census-project/census-data-confidentiality-and-uk-law/index.html

As has become the practice for previous censuses an independent review of the security and confidentiality arrangements covering the collection and processing of census questionnaires will be carried out before the Census. (302487)

ii, iii) The measures that it has put in place to safeguard and maintain the confidentiality of personal census information (and which are set out in Chapter 6 of the Government's White Paper Helping to shape tomorrow) comply fully with the recommendations of the Data Sharing Review and, at the same time, the relevant legislation to protect such confidentiality.

All personal census information is protected generally from unlawful disclosure by the provision of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, and there is a long-standing policy, reaffirmed in the White Paper to make this available for public access only after 100 years.

No government departments or agencies will have access to non-anonymised census data. (302488 & 302485)

iv) ONS has agreed a national data sharing agreement with Local Government Information House (the National Land and Property Gazetteer supplier), the Royal Mail and Ordnance Survey as well as checking the resulting address list against Valuation Office Agency data.

ONS will cross-match the address lists received from the respective bodies and ask the address list suppliers and local authorities to help to resolve any mismatches and queries.

The data sharing agreement covers uses only for the 2011 Census. However, in developing the matching and verification processes, ONS has been mindful of the need to try to ensure that these processes could be reused in other circumstances. (302490)

v) No specific data were analysed in coming to the decision that the census would not impact on the private or voluntary sector. ONS explained the reasoning for this decision in section 10 of the Explanatory Memorandum, which states:

"The impact on business, charities or voluntary bodies of this legislation is considered to be minimal. This is because the purpose of the Census is not to collect business data, and the only impact on business will be asking persons in charge of commercial communal establishments, to make a return in respect of the establishment and of any residents or inmates residing within their premises, who are unable to make a return for themselves."

As no business or voluntary body is required to undertake any duty that ONS believes might prove either detrimental to their work, might significantly delay their normal day-to-day business or place any additional cost upon them, other than asking the manager of any commercial establishment to hand out and collect questionnaires to any usual residents and then complete a short questionnaire in respect of their establishment, ONS believes that the 2011 Census impact on the private or voluntary sector will be minimal.

ONS took advice from the Better Regulations Unit, now part of the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills on this matter. (302268)

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