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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 3:15 pm, 17th July 2019

I will come back to the hon. Gentleman after a discussion via the usual channels. We are talking about a hybrid order of a unique nature, some of which will be amendable and some not, but we will certainly make sure that that is discussed. I thank him for the constructive meeting that we had about his concerns relating to his constituency.

When it comes to Cornwall, I can understand why we had a religious story—not least because Cornwall is located next to God’s own county, Devonshire. We will have an opportunity to debate that further in secondary legislation, but the Government are guided by the ONS.

I turn to homelessness, which was one of the main issues raised during the debate. The ONS is working with stakeholders such as Homeless Link, Shelter and St Mungo’s to develop plans to allow those who are experiencing homelessness to take part in the census. That will include work around census day, because not everyone will necessarily be in a particular shelter on the evening of the census. It will also include engagement with those connected with the LGBT sector to make sure that the census is thorough and counts everyone in.

This is a very simple piece of legislation, which does not direct that any questions should be in the 2021 census; it merely sets out that questions on those two subjects should be answered on a voluntary basis. That will ensure that vital information on both issues is captured, but that no one is forced to disclose it if they do not wish to. I therefore urge colleagues to support the Bill, and I commend it to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.