Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:06 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party 3:06 pm, 17th July 2019

I have been inspired to speak in the debate by the contribution of Steve Double. I agree with him about two things. The first is his strong support for the Bill; as I indicated in my two interventions on the Front-Bench spokesmen, I think they are right to bring in and strongly support the Bill. I also echo the praise from the hon. Member for St Austell and Newquay for the tremendous job of work that the Office for National Statistics and all its staff do. However, I share his frustration that, with one or two questions that have faced the ONS in preparing for the 2021 census, its temptation has been to see them as a little local difficulty and perhaps not to take them as seriously as it might. I recognise that concern.

At the beginning of his remarks, the hon. Gentleman retold the Christmas story in his own unique way—